Needed – A Left Antiwar Opposition To Obama
By Webster Tarpley
Seven months into the new administration, it is clear that Obama is on his way to failure and worse, potentially dragging a whole range of progressive causes down to defeat. For so many disappointed activists, the honeymoon is over and the thrill is gone, and what remains is a trail of broken promises and betrayals. The question is no longer how to save Obama, but how to defend causes that were here long before Obama arrived, and will be here long after he is gone. In 1979, it was evident to Sen. Ted Kennedy that Jimmy Carter was wrecking the Democratic Party and had to be opposed. Kennedy fell short of the nomination, but his valiant campaign undoubtedly did much to keep the Democratic opposition alive during the long nightmare of Reagan-Bush. Today, a timely primary challenge to Obama by a candidate without Kennedy’s baggage might capture the nomination and avoid the new nightmare of a Mitt Romney presidency. In the short run, we need a revival of the peace movement on the Afghanistan issue.
AFGHAN-PAKISTAN WAR ESCALATES TOWARD A DECADE OF SLAUGHTER
During July, 41 US soldiers, 34 NATO troops, and thousands of civilians died in Afghanistan and Pakistan, meaning that this war is already as bad as Iraq, and deteriorating faster. Obama’s hand-picked commander is Gen. McChrystal, who, in a macabre mockery of Obama’s election promises, was implicated in torture in Iraq. (New York Times, May 31, 2009) Obama is escalating the Afghan war way beyond Bush, but behind the scenes McChrystal is already demanding a doubling of US troop strength. Official Washington knows that Obama has signed off on ten years of war in effect, an endless commitment: “As the Obama administration expands U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, military experts are warning that the United States is taking on security and political commitments that will last at least a decade and a cost that will probably eclipse that of the Iraq war.” (Walter Pincus, Washington Post, August 9, 2009) At this stage in the Iraq war, there were mass demonstrations against Bush, which he ignored. Today, it would be much harder for Obama to ignore similar actions, but the peace movement leaders are AWOL, silent, nowhere to be found. For the rest of us, naked aggression by Obama is still aggression. We must mount mass demonstrations in 2009 against the Afghan war before Iran, Pakistan, and even China or Russia become embroiled. We are sick and tired of foreign wars and we want all US troops brought home from the Iraq and Afghan war zones, immediately. We also want Joe Biden to shut his big mouth and stop making trouble with the Russians in Georgia, Ukraine, and Poland, since the stakes here could include nuclear war.
HEALTH CARE: THE PUBLIC OPTION BETRAYED
Big Pharma and Big Insurance are the biggest supporters of Obama’s health care plans. Obama has promised Big Pharma that there will be no attempt to buy cheap prescription drugs in Canada, and no effort by Medicare to get outrageous drug prices down all for $150 million of television support for Obama. We need to remember that AIG, the biggest insurance conglomerate, is bankrupt, and has sucked $180 billion out of the Treasury. The Hartford, another big insurer, has taken $3.5 billion from the Treasury. MetLife just announced a loss of $1.5 billion in one quarter, all due to derivatives. Obama’s health care plan is basically a bailout for bankrupt insurers, engineered by forcing the entire US population to buy medical insurance from for-profit, deregulated, unsueable private insurers! It will be Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts monstrosity on a larger scale. Medicare and Medicaid will also be looted for the sake of private firms, threatening the lives and health of the American people. Obama has already jettisoned not just single payer, but any public option or government plan as well. Baucus, Conrad, Durbin, and other key Democratic senators have already declared the public option dead on arrival. This is no speculation; Obama’s scenario is already in the papers: “‘I would put up a bold front of wanting a public option and at the end of the day would say, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Enzi, in the name of unity and Republican support, I will give it up if you climb on board,’ said Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution, referring to two key GOP senators.” (Washington Post, Aug. 7, 2009) Get the picture?
WALL STREET DOMINATION
Under Obama’s bailout, Wall Street’s credit line from the Treasury, the Fed, and the FDIC has reached about $24 trillion, according to Treasury official Barofsky. Compare this to the mere $300 billion of benefits for working families plus infrastructure contained in the stimulus. This means that, under Obama, the zombie bankers and hedge fund hyenas are beating the American people by a score of 80 to 1. The entire auto industry is being destroyed with the help of Obama. The UAW has been busted. Education Secretary Duncan is busting the American Federation of Teachers using the weapon of “merit pay.” Obama has betrayed labor on the card check needed to level the playing field for union organizers. Obama let the mortgage cramdown be defeated without listing a finger. Nothing has been done to stop foreclosures. Our government has become a giant hedge fund. We want Geithner, Summers, and Bernanke fired. We want the bailout clawed back from the bankers and used to take care of state budget deficits, starting with California, with no cuts in vital services. We want real regulation of financial markets, starting with derivatives. We want a Tobin tax on Wall Street speculators. There is no Obama recovery: the rise of the stock market over the last few months is not prosperity, but more likely the beginning of hyperinflation meaning the descent of the US economy into chaos, like Germany in 1923. The economic picture will continue to deteriorate, making Obama weaker and weaker.
OBAMA = CARTER + LBJ + NIXON
Carter was an economic disaster, but at least there were no wars. The last time a Democratic president tried to wage a useless, endless war was Lyndon B. Johnson in Vietnam. LBJ was destroyed, even though he had real progressive credentials. Nixon had enemies’ lists, preventive detention, and spies everywhere. Obama has state secrets, indefinite detention, renditions, and signing statements. Obama combines the worst of three failed presidencies. It is hard to see how he could be re-elected. If we let the right wingers monopolize the opposition and do all the fighting, they will take over. In political battles, if you’re not in it, you can’t win it. The only way to build support for a genuine New Deal alternative is to get out there and fight for it. Already, GOP control of one or perhaps both houses of Congress in 2010 may be unavoidable. What can be accomplished in 2009-2010 is to field some anti-administration Democratic, Green, and independent candidates who can bring New Deal policies to public attention, and maybe capture some seats. That can set the stage for an insurgent primary challenge to Obama in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other states in 2011-12 like Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy against LBJ in 1968.
OBAMA USES LEFT COVER STRIP IT AWAY
By now, it should be apparent how Obama operates. The policies are not that different from Bush-Cheney, but they are carried out under left cover a smokescreen of vaguely progressive rhetoric which turns out to be a tissue of lies. The Republicans and assorted right-wing extremists eagerly attack Obama’s left-cover slogans, seldom the reality of his policies. The Republicans do not attack Obama as a warmonger and a Wall Street puppet, since this points to the essence of the GOP. Instead, they prefer fantastic distortions about socialism and catering to trade unions. Obama for his part welcomes attacks from ogres like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Gingrich, since he knows he looks good in comparison. Some leftists think that the way to influence Obama is to be nice to him. Nothing could be more misguided. Since Obama depends on his left-cover camouflage to cloak his sellouts, the first step is to strip off the left cover. When this has been tried, as for example by the LGTB community, Obama has immediately offered some concessions as a shuck (some benefits for same sex federal employees). If the peace movement were to come back from the dead and demonstrate in force against Obama’s war policies, there is every reason to expect that Obama’s war policy could be impacted.
NEEDED: ANTI-WAR ACTION NOW, 2010 CANDIDATES, AND A 2012 PRIMARY CHALLENGE
The American people are hungry for a real New Deal alternative, the only kind that can deliver real economic recovery, full employment, and lasting prosperity. They are sick of war. A political alternative that is populist, protectionist, producerist, pro-labor, anti-Wall Street, anti-imperialist, and anti-war could score an astounding success. Obama has been tested and found tragically wanting. It is time to cut our losses and build for the future. Obama is not good enough and the GOP is a disaster. The American people deserve something better: a third choice, a New Deal alternative. We must see to it that they get it.
ANTI-WAR COALITION FOR TRUTH ACTINDEPENDENT.ORG