This is the third story in the Best of Consortium News series as we look back at our first 25 years throughout our jubilee year.
This is a facsimile of how the article originally appeared on Consortium News.
President Obama, who has boasted of ordering military strikes on seven countries, chastised Russia and China for not abiding by the rules of international behavior, a breathtaking example of hypocrisy or self-deceit, writes Joe Lauria.
By Joe Lauria
There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as U.S. President Barack Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a “return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution.”
These ancient rules included the “belief that power is a zero-sum game; that might makes right; that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones; that the rights of individuals don’t matter; and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force.”
The silence in the chamber came because everything Obama ascribed to others perfectly describes U.S. behavior from the end of the Second World War until today.
Since 1945, the U.S. has participated in dozens of documented invasions and overthrows of sovereign governments that resisted U.S. hegemony, the strongest nation imposing its will militarily on the weak. Among the best known are the 1953 and 1954 coups in Iran and Guatemala, and the invasions of Vietnam and Iraq. There were other democracies overthrown to install monarchies or dictatorships, such as Mobutu in Congo in 1961, Suharto in Indonesia in 1965 and Pinochet in Chile in 1973.
There was a setback to the American militarists with the loss in Vietnam, but a decade later Ronald Reagan was back at it, starting with a small invasion of Grenada. George H.W. Bush pounded Panama in 1989 and then devastated Iraqi forces in 1991 with an air and ground campaign, leading to his declaration that “we’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.” Thirty years after the defeat in Vietnam, his son, George W. Bush, staged a full-scale 2003 invasion of Iraq, unleashing utter chaos that’s led to the most fearsome terrorist power in history.
Yet Obama on Monday was blaming Russia and China for the mess Washington has created, saying, “We see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.” Obama cited Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea and “further aggression” in Eastern Ukraine.
He didn’t mention the documented U.S. orchestrated coup against a democratically-elected president in Kiev, which eastern Ukrainians have resisted. Russia has helped them but the U.S. with all its fancy surveillance that can find out almost any detail of your private life has yet to come up with a scrap of evidence of a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine.
At heart is either Obama’s willful ignorance of Ukraine, a clumsy attempt at disinformation, or as Vladimir Putin suggested in his U.N. speech a half hour later, a big measure of self-deception.
Obama said Ukrainians favor the West. That may be true of most western Ukrainians but not the whole country. Then, he said the U.S. has “few economic interests” in Ukraine. That’s woefully ignorant or a blatant lie. Monsanto has a big interest. Then there’s Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and a John Kerry family friend joining the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, just after the coup.
And the country’s finance minister is an American, Natalie Jaresko, who was given Ukrainian citizenship on the day she began the job. Why put an American government official in charge of the treasury of a foreign country?
Despite Russia’s “aggression,” Obama said he did not want a new Cold War, just U.S. bases encircling Russia, and China. In the South China Sea, the “U.S. makes no territorial claims,” Obama said, and only has an altruistic interest in protecting freedom of navigation and resolving disputes peacefully and not by “the law of force.” Yet, when the International Court of Justice ruled the U.S. mining of Nicaraguan harbors in the 1980s was illegal, the U.S. just ignored it.
On Syria, Obama (and his junior partners in Europe) insist that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office, as though that would make ISIS lay down its arms. “Realism requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild,” the President said.
Obama’s position presupposes that the war would end as soon as a new Syrian leader calls off the fight. Instead ISIS is fighting not only to topple Assad, but to take Damascus from whoever may take Assad’s place. They want the capital. It doesn’t matter who is in charge.
Putin argues that Assad’s military is the most effective ground force (along with the Kurds) against the monstrous group and that all nations who want ISIS defeated should work with Assad. “Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of parties willing to stand firm against those who, just like the Nazis, sow evil and hatred of humankind,” Putin said.
While this is the most practical approach, it would be politically difficult for Western leaders, after three years of calling for Assad’s ouster, to reverse course. Instead the West blames Russian “ambition” in its military build-up in Syria rather than seeing it as a move to help Syria defeat this scourge that came about partly by the West playing around with terrorists who turned into a Frankenstein monster.
“The Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere,” Putin told the Assembly. “It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.” He added that it was irresponsible “to manipulate extremist groups and use them to achieve your political goals, hoping that later you’ll find a way to get rid of them or somehow eliminate them.”
Russia warned from three years ago that this could happen. “I’m urged to ask those who created this situation: do you at least realize now what you’ve done?” Putin asked. “But I’m afraid that this question will remain unanswered, because they have never abandoned their policy, which is based on arrogance, exceptionalism and impunity.”
Though Obama told the U.N. that he could essentially blow up the whole world if he wanted to, he’s decided to be a nice guy and seek diplomacy over confrontation with Russia and China. “I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known,” he boasted to the quiet hall, “and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.”
“I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion,” Obama said. “We cannot look backwards.” Obama might try looking into a mirror instead.
Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached at[email protected] and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.
Please Donate to CNs’ 25th Anniversary Spring Fund Drive
Presidential Obama, constitutional law professor and Noble Prize holder, was the greater of the two evils. He used his intelligence, his charm and universal support to profit from us all and paved the path to the Trump presidency.
What a legacy. What a shame.
Joe Lauria . . . scathing attack on Obama we all should remember for the coming years with that his of Donald j Trump`s years in office.
One can basically sum up this article as a piece of garbage as well as a `sleazy ,slimy and personal` attack on President Barack Obama.
Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and protecting fantasies regarding Obama’s presidency being a good one.
One wonders at the idea that it should be himself as well whom he fooled. It is easier to believe with tyrants who are less adept, who do not manage to change so nimbly.
I knew a psychiatrist who said that once a person cannot feel, he or she can do anything. I suppose that at such a point, he or she can deny anything as well.
I can’t take the irony:
‘On Friday, Yahoo News reported that it had obtained a tape of a web talk between the former president and members of the Obama Alumni Association.
“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed – about the justice department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama reportedly said.“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic – not just institutional norms – but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.”
The rule of law was dead and buried during Obama’s 8 years. He ordered a drone assassination against an American teenager with no criminal history and charged with no crime, let every fraudulent criminal banker on Wall St off after the financial crisis, even Angelo Mozilo, but Obama is worried that letting Flynn off (after it was revealed he was deliberately and maliciously set up with a perjury trap) is a threat to the rule of law? I mean back up for a second, is not a politically motivated perjury trap and railroading of a top political appointee set by partisans from the outgoing administration a threat to the rule of law? Dear god.
This was always the worst thing about Obama, the stunning discontinuity between words and actions; a man who’s smooth talking could make even the most heinously hypocritical, cynical, and imperialist statements sound like good sense.
So much for “hopey changy”, and Biden is running on his legacy.
Excellent summary of a man who updates the prize for bait and switch from LBJ’s “Not sending Amurican(sic) boys to do what Asian boys ought to do for themselves” in the 1964 campaign against super hawk Goldwater.
We can see why he didn’t want to prosecute Bush/Cheney; he continued their legacy and his speech before the UN sounds like he is channeling those two war criminals. He’s joined their exclusive club.
Just goes to show what the elite universities are for. Besides catering to the already upper class they take a few from the lower echelons (like Bill Clinton and Obama) on scholarships and teach them to be part of the master class. Obama is thoroughly Harvard Law on the inside; just as Slick Willy was Yale Law. Those Democrats are so good at suckering the masses.
“Those Democrats are so good at suckering the masses.” That’s one way to look at it but from my POV, Democrats are very willing to be suckered and gladly play the game every four-years. And remember, to be a good Dem one must NEVER criticize their party or any of its bought and paid for shills. (I detest the Republican Party by the way)
Makes me sick that I bought into all of the Obama BS when he is just another gun-for-hire by the big money interests of this country. And, Biden? Well, he is just no choice at all is he? This country is a JOKE!
Re-posting an entirely appropos comment from someone named “Dove” from January 2016 from another forum:
Obama failed to properly implement the healthcare plan that was to be his legacy and he failed to fully wind down the wars he promised to. He also failed to reign in gun control (although some might see that as a good thing).
But on the plus side he: furthered the destabilisation of Syria, funded, developed and trained new rebel armies in the middle east; held record arms sales to the people that need them the most- the middle eastern dictators; helped rid Egypt of that pesky democracy thing and put the military back in charge; came-saw-killed in Libya; rattled the sabre at China with ‘the pivot’; managed to finally pry Ukraine away from Russia; helped start a new war in Yemen after the natives ousted their previous dictator; killed Bin Laden but lost his body; ensured economic recovery by letting everyone escape prosecution; kept Gitmo open for people cleared for release but still held; pioneered the new drone technology; took domestic spying to a new level; Cuba; Iran; the list goes on.
Obama was just another American President. He might as well have been a republican because it doesn’t matter. This record is indistinguishable from Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan or Clinton. Only the rhetoric changes and that will truly be his legacy. Barak Obama was, with help of more than a few great writers, one of the best set-piece, prepared, formal speech makers in half a century. Even though “No, he didn’t”, “Yes, we can”
“Makes me sick that I bought into all of the Obama BS when he is just another gun-for-hire by the big money interests of this country. And, Biden? Well, he is just no choice at all is he? This country is a JOKE!” a comment from above.
Your comment adds fuel to the fires of truth. The United States of America is the biggest, most threatening obstacle to peace in the history of the world.
Look up Warren Weinstein…kidnapped by Al-Queda while he was working in an AID-related project in Pakistan, and he along with an Italian hostage were killed by the Obama folks bombing the AQ hideout without bothering to find out who might be there. They had to admit it several months later as AQ was getting ready to make it public…but did that stop the daily killing? No…
The only thing that created the false image of Obama was the fact that he was a black man. So many of us used that to fall for this false prophet in order to try and make restitution for hundreds of years of our racist history. Obama is nothing but another American politician in sheep’s clothing whom we for some reason keep trusting. Screw ’em all.
It wasn’t just himself he deceived, the man was a fraud from the get-go. But he looked so sharp in his fancy suits, so presidential as he ordered the deaths of uncounted foreigners, and no few Americans as well.
A happy stroll down Memory Hole Lane.
Manufactured monsters and Hitler-like Bad Guys.
The U$ public will lap it up like Pavlov’s dogs.
All bipartisan pablum.
Yum, yum, yum.
Such shiny objects of distraction must be launched with regularity that the U$ public may not notice that they are being shafted.
The big red, white, and blue “Screw You” (the people) Job.
Is it true that more than half of U$ politicians are millionaires?
Is it true that, during a pandemic, the wealthy are being “bailed out”, to the tune of trillion$ just like they were twelve years ago, while “the people” are getting the tricolor shaft, even as the “choice”, this election season is either “more of the same” Trumpism, or “nothing will change” Bidenism?
While the media and academia appear to notice nothing at all, as civil society is torn totally asunder to facilitate an even more vicious economic precarity for the many, as the laughable health insurance system fails even more spectacularly as tens of millions lose their “employment” connected “coverage”, and Nancy Pelosi urges Donald Trump to “open the exchanges” so the newly impoverished can “buy” health “insurance” in the face of a virus that may well kill hundreds of thousands of U$ citizens?
Will the Memory Blackhole be BIG enough to swallow all this and more?
Will the United States of Amnesia still continue to be followed (bowed down to) mindlessly, by other nations, as it drunkenly and violently threatens to sanction or militarily anihilate any nation that does not genuflect or kowtow to its demands?
It may very well be that learned helplessness will prevail in the Homeland, that the pretense of democracy will continue to be embraced in another sham “election” of “lesser” evils, that half of the nation’s working classes and their families will accept being unemployed, homeless, and hungry.
It may happen that those “working from home” will not notice (or care) what is happening to other human beings until, that is, the destruction comes for them.
Of course, then it will be too late.
For then, there will be no one to care what happens to them.
Still, there remain many who believe that all the “shit” started with Trump.
They, somehow, failed to note Forever War and the rise, over the past forty-odd years, of neoliberalism and austerity, and they failed to heed George Carlin’s clear message that, “It’s a big club, and you and I aren’t in it. It’s the one they use to hit your over the head with, and now they’re coming after your Social Security”.
Remember Obama’s “Grand Bargain”, the one he tried to entice the Republicans to join, the one that proposed cutting Social Security?
Remember when Bill Clinton got rid of Glass Steagall and what the banks did next?
Remember how Obama “bailed out” the banks and screwed (polite uphemism) “the people”?
That ole Memory Hole sure swallows up a whole universe of stuff.
It is just sheer coincidence that the educational system, in the U$, does not model or encourage the development of critical thinking, of course.
Those capable of critical thinking usually notice when they are getting shafted and, usually, do not forget.
They even talk to others capable of critical thinking and discuss what might be done to actually change things.
The really clever “players”, the ones who successfully “game” the deliberately corrupted system, instead, come up with catchy slogans and grandly promise “hope” and “change”.
Then they screw the people.
And, layer on, have their wives blame “folks” for not voting for “more” of “nothing will change”.
While revered academics insist that the shafted must simply “suck it up” and dutifully vote for “lesser evils” because “this election”/shafting, “is the most important, ever!”
Then, everything is forgotten as the fog of holey memory descends.
And we all get to do it again.
Well, until everything collapses.
That is when Hell freezes over (as a result of nuclear winter – and it must be pointed out the Obama earmarked a trillion to “upgrade” the nuclear arsenal that Trumps wonders why “we can’t use?)
Or, when the planet melts and refuses to sustain human existence any longer (because greedy idiots screwed far more than merely their fellow beings).
Or, we could simply allow the pandemic to engender economic Armageddon, let many millions starve, and go full dystopian. The rich plan to leave the planet anyway, so it is no skin off their entitled rumps, they imagine.
It ain’t just the Memory Hole, we humans have also, apparently, lost the capacity to imagine anything BUT more of the same lame shit or anything beyond nothing will change.
Everything will change.
(Unless WE change, we ain’t gonna be here to notice.)
Brilliant. The article makes short work of reminding us what a dishonest and immoral actor president Obama was (and is.) And the truth in your words here is a testament to how we have all been brainwashed by a self-serving, psychopathic and immoral corporate, political and media class. Now the criminals are so desperate to maintain control over us as to cast 33 million (and counting) of us out of their jobs, and to stand in the way of democracy actually working its will through a primary. We are now a third world country, where elite agendas have never been more apparent. Buckle up, critical thinkers, and educate your neighbors. We’re losing a war that most of us don’t even know we’re in.
A good synopsis of what we have to look forward to. It’s a horror movie, playing in slow motion, right before our eyes! Our neighbors are all sitting inside their houses being comforted by Netflix.
Or are they? Is there a limit to what people will tolerate?
Excellent comment DW Bartoo. ” . . . there remain many who believe that all the “shit” started with Trump.” Nearly all of the people I know. Your comment would be invisible to them and they hate me for even trying to show it to them. We’re rather screwed.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
And then there is Khadaffi: “we came, we saw, he died” cackle cackle
That sorry disgrace for a human being, Hillary will rot in hell for those callous words.
Yes, good piece, vividly recalling what a nasty piece of work Obama was.
It’s remarkable to me that so many look back at him with nostalgia.
In part it was his boyish smile and baritone voice. In part it was a kind of credability he got for being the first black president.
I was taken in by him during his campaign. A guy who sometimes wore sandals and briefly eschewed a dorky American flag pin on his lapel.
I even started a small site with some extraordinary photos of him I’d discover here or there.
But it didn’t take long. And I took down the site.
He bombed people somewhere every single day of his eight years.
He overthrew the Qaddafi government in Libya, leaving behind chaos which remains to this day. Qaddafi’s was a government that took care of his people with free education and good water and healthcare. He also kept Libya out of wars.
His “sin” of course was not toeing the line of American imperial policy.
Obama approved the ugly coup in Ukraine which still to this day causes all kinds of unnecessary grief in the world.
He supported the ugly secret war against Syria, a pretend civil war using fake-jihadi mercenaries, a war that has killed almost three-quarters of a million people. He even had Hillary Clinton running weapons and mercenaries from the smoldering ruins of Libya in a secret effort to see them introduced into Syria.
Indeed at one point he talked about “red lines” in Syria. What he meant was that a staged attacked with chemical weapons would allow him to create a no-fly zone over Syria so he could bombe the crap out of the country, like they did in Libya. Only Putin’s exceptional statesmanship saved the day.
Hillary was even involved in a project to smuggle small quantities of the dead Gadhafi’s poison gas stocks to Syria to “supply the red line.” Just truly creepy murderous stuff.
He made minimal progress in restoring the horrors America left behind in Iraq. Years after the Hitler-like “Shock and Awe” of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, millions of Iraqis had no electricity and no decent water. The most advanced Arab country was a shambles.
He maintained America’s needless hostilities with Iran, distinguishing himself that one time with the nuclear weapons agreement.
He supported many other bloody adventures, as in Somalia.
He never did anything of real consequence to help the Palestinians see some justice.
Later he spoke of making the pivot to Asia, which was code for intense new hostilities against China and its interests….
Once he lightly “joked” in a meeting, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this killing stuff!”
I don’t think he did one thing to earn that Nobel Peace Prize.
Couldn’t agree more. Obama is one of the smoothest talking devils we have ever had as president, and that is saying something. That we will have to observe him regularly again, campaigning for Weekend at Biden’s, turns my stomach.
Reading this article and the comments makes me realize that the hate runs deep and I am not alone. Thanks everyone for telling it like it truly is for this failing and soon to thankfully collapse empire.