I assume that readers already sense, or can see if they do a little research, that Hillary Clinton is a pro-war, pro-imperialism, pro-Zionist candidate of the corporations, just like Bush, only more "multilateral." But what about Barack Obama? Does he represent "change" and "hope?" Should the working class and progressives vote for him? Looking at his recent statements and record, I think the answer is no.
Obama is slightly better than the other candidates, having opposed the attack on Iraq, saying that Iraq was weak and contained, preferring UN inspections to war, and recognizing that occupation would be risky, inflammatory, and good for al Qaida. Wanting to continue inspections was a better position than being for immediate war, but weapons inspections did not save Iraqi civilians from the sanctions in the 90's and Iraq's banned weapons had been destroyed after the first Iraq War. Obama spoke at an anti-war rally in Chicago in October 2002 as an Illinois state senator. In his Blueprint for Change (online at www.barackobama.com), Obama says he opposed the Iraq War in campaigning in 2003-2004. But once elected it took a year before he spoke on the War on the Senate floor, for phased reduction of the occupation force, and in June 2006 he voted against Russ Feingold and John Kerry's proposal for a timetable for withdrawal. That year he also supported Joe Lieberman and other bellicose Democrats against more critical Democrats. After Obama set up a presidential exploratory committee and after the Iraq Study Group had recommended setting a date for withdrawal, Obama proposed setting a withdrawal date (initially March 2008), and in spring 2007 he became willing to oppose war funding.
In September he proposed a plan to end the Iraq War, withdrawing 1 to 2 combat brigades per month and removing all combat brigades over 16 months. But he has also said that he cannot guarantee that he would withdraw all soldiers by 2013. In the July-August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs (FA, online at www.pierretristam.com/Bobst/07/wf070607a.htm) magazine, Obama wrote that, while only a political solution would bring peace, "This redeployment could be temporarily suspended if the Iraqi government meets the security, political, and economic benchmarks to which it has committed." He says he would use UN mediation to bring Iraqi groups to a political agreement, engage in an "aggressive diplomatic effort" to create a consensus among Iraq's neighbors, and begin an international effort to help Iraq's internal and external refugees, pledging to give at least $2 billion dollars. His Blueprint does not specifically say that small amount (compared to the hundreds of billions spent destroying Iraq) would be used to rebuild. Obama pledges not to build permanent military bases, but "He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base in Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda." Al Qaida is already in Iraq, thanks to the occupation, so it sounds like Obama would continue the occupation, though it has been demonstrated that the Iraqis can defeat al Qaida themselves when it is in their interest.
Obama is not for recognizing Iraq's sovereignty and ending the criminal occupation of Iraq as quickly as possible, and it does not sound like he would support extensive rebuilding of what we destroyed. In FA he wrote: "Iraq was a diversion from the fight against the terrorists who struck us on 9/11, and incompetent prosecution of the war by America's civilian leaders compounded the strategic blunder of choosing to wage it in the first place." Like most other Democratic leaders critical of the War and occupation (and his patron, John Kerry, who first gave Obama national prominence), he does not say he is against this war of aggression because it is criminal, only that it is a "diversion" and is being defeated (by the patriotic Iraqi Resistance). If the occupation had been successful, most Democrats would still be on the bipartisan jingoistic bandwagon. He writes further that "we cannot impose a military solution on a civil war between Sunni and Shiite factions," which may be true, but he assumes the violence in Iraq is a sectarian civil war and presumably that the USA did not foment divisions in the first instance, that being one reason the US cannot stop it.
He is apparently not for accountability for the War and other recent crimes. Unlike many others in the Senate, he voted for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice being appointed Secretary of State. He opposes impeachment, saying "I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breeches, and intentional breeches of the president's authority" (http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/28/america/NA-POL-US-Obama-No-Impeachment.php), which would seem to exactly fit the charges against Bush and Cheney. In his Blueprint he mentions using diplomacy to "ensure that China plays by international rules," the usual imperialist double standard, since he excuses Bush's crimes and advocates Bush policies as you can see below.
Obama did vote against the pro-war Kyl-Lieberman amendment, and authored a bill (S.J. Res. 23) underlining that Congress has not authorized a war on Iran, but he still stated in FA that "The world must work to stop Iran's uranium-enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is far too dangerous to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy" and in his Blueprint accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, supporting "militias inside Iraq and terror across the region," threatening Israel, and denying the Holocaust. It is not proven that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and it has a right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to develop peaceful nuclear technology, such as uranium enrichment. What Obama calls "terror" is in many cases legitimate armed struggle for the liberation of Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine from foreign occupiers. He says in FA that "Our diplomacy should aim to raise the cost for Iran of continuing its nuclear program by applying tougher sanctions and increasing pressure from its key trading partners." Are these more sanctions along the lines of the blockade of Cuba and the UN sanctions on Iraq that are estimated to have killed around 1 million, most of them children, and brutalized the survivors, through malnutrition, lack of education, and bombing and the constant threat of war? One of his stated diplomatic hopes is to "better secure Israel" by "isolat[ing] Iran" and "moderat[ing]" Syria (part of which is occupied by Israel, the Golan Heights).
PALESTINE & ISRAEL
When he ran for Congress in 2000 he actually criticized Clinton for his uncritical support of Israel's policies and incorrectly called the conflict a "cycle of violence," rather than a struggle against occupation. More recently Obama claims in FA that "Our starting point must always be a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy." He also has said "we should never seek to dictate what is best for the Israelis and their security interests," which might be true, since Israel is a sovereign state, but Obama advocates "fully funding military assistance," and Israel should not be allowed to do whatever it wants with American foreign aid.
He writes that "We must help the Israelis identify and strengthen those partners who are truly committed to peace, while isolating those who seek conflict and instability," or in other words, we need to support collaborators in the Middle East like the Palestinian Authority and Jordan against those who will only accept a just peace. After all, US and Israeli collaborators like Turkey do not cause "conflict and instability" (such as by bombing and invading northern Iraq) only opponents of US policy do. He also thinks that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert is "more than willing to negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will result in two states living side by side in peace and security," even though Olmert's government continues to engage in provocative attacks, build settlements on stolen land, and refuses to release political prisoners to encourage Palestinian reciprocity. Obama actually decries that "The new UN Human Rights Council has passed eight resolutions condemning Israel -- but not a single resolution condemning the genocide in Darfur or human rights abuses in Zimbabwe" (in FA, and Obama did his part by sponsoring S.Con.Res.25 last March condemning actions by Zimbabwe, which the Senate passed but the House tabled).
During Israel's attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, Obama (along with Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, and John McCain) co-sponsored Bill Frist's disgusting Senate Resolution 534 (online at thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:s.res.00534: ) and Obama accuses the Hezbollah national liberation movement of using civilians as shields, for which Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both been unable to find evidence. Obama's evidence is from a pro-war Israeli think tank led by a former head of the Mossad intelligence agency.
Stephen Zunes, Middle East editor for Foreign Policy In Focus (see www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/4886), even says Obama's words on the Middle East are "what some might view as a degree of anti-Arab racism." Obama thinks the threats in the Middle East are "a strengthened Iran, a chaotic Iraq, the resurgence of al Qaeda, the reinvigoration of Hamas and Hezbollah" (from FA). Iran is not attacking its neighbors and is not a global imperialist like our country, we are the ones who destroyed Iraq, and Obama obviously considers resistance to occupation to be chaos, and Hamas and Hezbollah are trying to liberate their countries. In terms of foreign policy, these two groups are more progressive than Obama, since they act as nationalists who want to free their people, even if they are Islamists. Al Qaida could be a threat, but the Democrats don't like to mention that its formation was encouraged by the US, and was set in motion by the Carter Administration's actions in Afghanistan.
AFGHANISTAN & PAKISTAN
Obama advocates violating Pakistan's sovereignty and attacking its citizens, which could have severe consequences for the region. In a speech August 1st, 2007 he said "It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qa'eda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will." This is extrajudicial murder, which no sovereign state would allow without permission, even if the victims turn out to be criminals. The US has a history of not acting in many cases when it had a chance to kill al Qaida leaders, and this selectivity is odd, when the government otherwise has no qualms about murdering its opponents and causing collateral damage, and even allowed known al Qaida terrorists to freely enter this country. I don't think we should advocate executing people just because the government alleges that they are criminals, but that is already US policy, and it is suspicious how it has worked out, so I don't see why we should think Obama will execute more alleged terrorists than Bill Clinton and Bush.
Obama would withdraw soldiers from Iraq only to send them to "the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan." This is the same "battlefield" where the US nurtured al Qaida and the Taliban and let them escape after the 2001 occupation of Afghanistan, in part because the country is a good route for pipelines from Central Asia. The government continues to aid the dictatorial Pakistani government, at least parts of which support bin Laden and the Taliban. Obama must believe we are in a "War on Terror" and not a war for oil and power, because he says in FA that Afghanistan and Pakistan are "the central front in our war against al Qaeda." Maybe Obama considers Pakistan a military target. He thinks peace between India and Pakistan will reduce Pakistan's support for the Taliban, but I doubt that, when Pakistan borders Afghanistan and has long had designs on Afghanistan. He says "There must be no safe haven for those who plot to kill Americans," which is just a chauvinist phrase, and hypocritical, since the US is a safe haven for people plotting to kill Cubans and many other nationalities.
Another jingoistic phrase is that we need to create a coalition "to stay on the offense everywhere from Djibouti to Kandahar." He agrees with Senator Richard Lugar that NATO's problems in Afghanistan represent "the growing discrepancy between NATO's expanding missions and its lagging capabilities" and not increasing European independence from the USA after the Cold War. Obama's solution is to demand more soldiers and money from other NATO members.