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5,491. On 13 January, George W Bush presented ‘presidential freedom medals’, said to be America’s highest recognition of devotion to freedom and peace. Among the recipients were Tony Blair, the epic liar who, with Bush, bears responsibility for the physical, social and cultural destruction of an entire nation; John Howard, the former prime minister of Australia and minor American vassal who led the most openly racist government in his country’s modern era; and Alvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia, whose government, according the latest study of that murderous state, is ‘responsible for than 90% of all cases of torture’.
As satire was made redundant when Henry Kissinger and Rupert Murdoch were honoured for their contributions to the betterment of humanity, Bush’s ceremony was, at least, telling of a system of which he and his freshly-minted successor are products. Although more spectacular in its choreographed histrionics, Barack Obama’s inauguration carried the same Orwellian message of inverted truth: of ruthlessness of criminal power, if not unending war. (Freedom & Bush & Henry Kissinger & Colombia & New World Order & War & Obama & Blair) John Pilger, Come on Down for Your Freedom Medals, article New Statesman, see also website
50,292. It is more than 100 days since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The ‘Obama brand’ has been named ‘Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008’, easily beating Apple computers. David Fenton of MoveOn.org describes Obama’s election campaign as ‘an institutionalised mass-level automated technological community organising that has never existed before and is a very, very powerful force’. Deploying the internet and a slogan plagiarised from the Latino union organiser César Chávez – ‘Sí, se puede!’ or ‘Yes, we can’ – the mass-level automated technological community marketed its brand to victory in a country desperate to be rid of George W Bush.
No-one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush’s wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush’s warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King’s legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous ‘Change you can believe in’, it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. ‘We will be the most powerful’, he often declared.
Perhaps the Obama brand’s most effective advertising was supplied free of charge by those journalists who, as courtiers of a rapacious system, promote shining knights. They depoliticised him, spinning his platitudinous speeches as ‘adroit literary creations, rich, like those Doric columns, with allusion ...’ (Charlotte Higgins in The Guardian). The San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote: ‘Many spiritually advanced people I know ... identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who ... can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet’ ...
Much of the American establishment loathed Bush and Cheney for exposing, and threatening, the onward march of America’s ‘grand design’, as Henry Kissinger, war criminal and now Obama adviser, calls it. In advertising terms, Bush was a ‘brand collapse’ whereas Obama, with his toothpaste advertisement smile and righteous clichés, is a godsend. At a stroke, he has seen off serious domestic dissent to war, and he brings tears to the eyes, from Washington to Whitehall. He is the BBC’s man, and CNN’s man, and Murdoch’s man, and Wall Street’s man, and the CIA’s man. The Madmen did well. (Advertising & Propaganda & Obama & United States of Amerca & US Empire) John Pilger, Obama’s 100 Days – The Mad Men Did Well, article New Statesman
83,458. Obama’s is the myth that is America’s last taboo. His most consistent theme was never change - it was power. ‘The United States,’ he said, ‘leads the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good … We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people.’ And there is this remarkable statement: ‘At moments of great peril in the past century our leaders ensured that America, by deed and by example, led and lifted the world, that we stood and fought for the freedom sought by billions of people beyond their borders.’ At the National Archives on May 21, he said: ‘From Europe to the Pacific, we’ve been the nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law.’ (Obama & US Empire) John Pilger, lecture Socialism Chicago 2009, viz website: ‘Power, Illusion & America’s Last Taboo’
28,986. Barack Obama is the embodiment of this ‘ism’. Since Obama was elected, leading liberals have talked about America returning to its true status as a ‘nation of moral ideals’ – the words of Paul Krugman in the New York Times. In the San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote that ‘spiritually advanced people regard the new president as ‘a Lightworker’ ... who can help usher in a new way of being on the planet’.
Tell that to an Afghan child whose family has been blown away by Obama’s bombs, or a Pakistani child whose family are among the 700 civilians killed by Obama’s drones. Or tell it to a child in the carnage of Gaza caused by American smart weapons which, disclosed Seymour Hersh, were re-supplied to Israel for use in the slaughter ‘only after the Obama team let it be known it would not object’. The man who stayed silent on Gaza is the man who now condemns Iran.
Since 1945, ‘by deed and by example’, the United States has overthrown fifty governments, including democracies, and crushed some 30 liberation movements, and supported tyrannies and set up torture chambers from Egypt to Guatemala. Countless men, women and children have been bombed to death. Bombing is apple pie. And yet here is the 44th President of the United States, having stacked his government with warmongers and corporate fraudsters and polluters from the Bush and Clinton eras, teasing us while promising more of the same.
Within three days of his inauguration, Obama was ordering the death of people in faraway countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan. And yet the peace movement it seems is prepared to look the other way and believe that the cool Obama will restore, as Krugman wrote, The nation of moral ideals. (United States of America & US Foreign Relations & US Empire & Class & Obama) ibid.
28,987. The clever young man who recently made it to the White House is a very fine hypnotist, partly because it is indeed extraordinary to see an African American at the pinnacle of power in the land of slavery. However, this is the twenty-first century, and Race together with Gender and even Class can be very seductive tools of propaganda. For what is so often overlooked and what matters I believe above all is the class one serves. (United States of America & US Foreign Relations & US Empire & Class & Obama) ibid.
33,071. Obama lied that America had gone to Iraq to bring freedom to that country. He announced that the troops were coming home. This was another deception. (Iraq & United States of America & Lies & Obama) ibid.
36,685. The invisible government that Bernays had in mind brought together all media – PR, the press, broadcasting, advertising. And their power of branding and image-making, in other words disinformation. And I suppose I’d like to talk today about this invisible government’s most recent achievement: the rise of Barack Obama and the silencing of much of the left. (Secret Government & Obama) ibid.
99,018. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate, Oceania, whose language of war inverted lies that ‘passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past’.’
Barack Obama is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two speeches at the close of the decade, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner affirmed that peace was no longer peace, but rather a permanent war that ‘extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan’ to ‘disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies’. He called this ‘global security’ and invited our gratitude. To the people of Afghanistan, which the US has invaded and occupied, he said wittily: ‘We have no interest in occupying your country.’
In Oceania, truth and lies are indivisible. According to Obama, the American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was authorised by the United Nations Security Council. There was no UN authority. He said that ‘the world’ supported the invasion in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks. In truth, all but three of 37 countries surveyed by Gallup expressed overwhelming opposition. He said that America invaded Afghanistan ‘only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden’. In 2001, the Taliban tried three times to hand over Bin Laden for trial, Pakistan’s military regime reported, and they were ignored.
Even Obama’s mystification of the 9/11 attacks as justification for his war is false. More than two months before the twin towers were attacked, the former Pakistani diplomat Niaz Naik was told by the Bush administration that a US military assault would take place by mid-October. The Taliban regime in Kabul, which the Clinton administration had secretly supported, was no longer regarded as ‘stable’ enough to ensure US control over oil and gas pipelines to the Caspian Sea. It had to go.
Obama’s most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a ‘safe haven’ for al-Qaeda’s attacks on the west. His own national security adviser, James Jones, said in October that there were ‘fewer than 100’ al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence, 90 per cent of the Taliban are hardly Taliban at all, but ‘a tribal localised insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power’. The war is a fraud. Only the terminally gormless remain true to the Obama brand of ‘world peace’.
Beneath the surface, however, there is serious purpose. Under the disturbing General Stanley McChrystal, who gained distinction for his assassination squads in Iraq, the occupation of Afghanistan is a model for those ‘disorderly regions’ of the world still beyond Oceania's reach. This is known as Coin (counterinsurgency), and draws together the military, aid organisations, psychologists, anthropologists, the media and public relations hirelings. Covered in jargon about winning hearts and minds, it aims to incite civil war: Tajiks and Uzbeks against Pashtuns.
The Americans did this in Iraq and destroyed a multi-ethnic society. They built walls between communities which had once intermarried, ethnically cleansing the Sunnis and driving millions out of the country. Embedded media reported this as ‘peace’; American academics bought by Washington and ‘security experts’ briefed by the Pentagon appeared on the BBC to spread the good news. As in 1984, the opposite was true.
Something similar is planned for Afghanistan. People are to be forced into ‘target areas’ controlled by warlords, bankrolled by the CIA and the opium trade. That these warlords are barbaric is irrelevant. ‘We can live with that,’ a Clinton-era diplomat once said of the return of oppressive sharia law in a ‘stable’, Taliban-run Afghanistan. Favoured western relief agencies, engineers and agricultural specialists will attend to the ‘humanitarian crisis’ and so ‘secure’ the subjugated tribal lands.