by Zafar Bangash (Reflections, Crescent International Vol. 37, No. 5, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1429)
The great political circus otherwise known as the US presidential election campaign is an expensive affair. It will cost nearly $1 billion—no mean sum in a country with 45 million people without health insurance and another 40 million living in absolute poverty, even if it boasts the largest economy in the world. If people are free to choose, why are presidential contenders spending such huge sums to convince them? Certainly, there is ample information available to make an informed choice. The year-long primaries, televised debates and endless commentaries on television, radio and in the newspapers should be enough to enable even the most ignorant and naive to decide.
This year's race had another novelty: for the first time in US history, a woman—Hillary Clinton—was seeking the Democratic Party's nomination that finally went to an African-American—Barack Obama—another first. On the surface, these may appear groundbreaking events, but it would be prudent to look deeper. Despite his glib rhetoric about changing Washingtonpolitics, it is simplistic to assume that Obama would have got the nomination without backing from the US corporate establishment. One can go further: unless the zionist lobby approves a candidate, his or her chances of success are limited.
Although Obama has mesmerized millions of Americans, especially younger ones, with his rhetoric and promise to curtail the influence of special interest groups, he failed in his very first test. On June 4, appearing before the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the zionist lobby group that claims to speak on behalf of all American Jews but represents only the fascist wing of it, Obama pledged complete subservience to Israel. He said he would defend Israel and strengthen US-Israeli ties. He even declared that Jerusalem would remain the "undivided" capital of the zionist state. While pledging to protect Israel he threatened to bomb Pakistan.
If some Muslims believe that Obama would be different, let them note his strong denunciation of those who have accused him of being a Muslim, saying it was "offensive" and a "smear". His staff even prevented hijab-clad Muslimahs from appearing with him in a photo. Instead of defending the beleaguered American Muslims as part of the American society like any other religious group, he called this part of a “virulent campaign” to undermine his support within the Jewish community (Haaretz, January 28, 2008). Obama has stated that he believes in Israelas a “Jewish”, rather than a democratic or law-abiding state. Regardless of one's religion, a person is entitled to equal treatment in every society except in the zionist utopia. He has denounced Louis Farakkhan and his own pastor, Dr Jeremiah Wright, in order to appease the zionists and white supremacists. One does not have to agree with either to assert that they have the right to their opinions, however toxic, if America claims to be a free society.
His pronouncements about Hamas are even more problematic. He does not accept the Palestinians' right of return and opposes talks with Hamas as long as it refuses to recognize Israel. Obviously Obama believes that the zionists' theft of Palestinian land, and their ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, is justified. The campaign of dispossession continues, but Obama is only concerned about the security of apartheid Israel, not about the rights or lives of the Palestinians who are daily being murdered with US-supplied weapons. Surely Obama cannot be ignorant of the 750 zionist checkpoints in the West Bank, the daily beatings and humiliations of the Palestinians and the prison-like conditions in Ghazzah that have resulted in mass starvation. On what basis does Obama grant the zionists a license to kill while denying the Palestinians any right to self-defence? He is equally hostile to Iran, supporting the illegal sanctions imposed through the UN, despite Tehran's adherence to its NPT obligations. He did not vote for the Iraq war, but he is cagey about how soon he will withdraw US troops from there. He is also silent about the permanent military bases the Bush regime wishes to establish and maintain in Iraq.
Muslims must be wary of the rhetoric of US politicians. During the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush famously said that the US must not act arrogantly, because people worldwide would hate it. Muslims in the millions flocked to vote for the man who has turned out to be the most anti-Muslim president in US history. All those Muslims who campaigned for Bush should look now to the millions killed and maimed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Palestine in Bush's wars against Muslims.
American politicians are not elected to serve the interests of the people who elect them, or to do what is right or just. The entire system is a fraud by which people are led to believe that they have a say in who rules them, a fraud that fools enough of the people enough of the time. This illusion is maintained and re-enacted every four years so that the masses can be deluded into thinking that they have a free choice. In reality, regardless of who is elected to the White House in November, there will be little change in US policy. The endless cycle of wars that is a systemic need of the US establishment will continue no matter who occupies the White House. Only when the US suffers a military defeat comparable to that suffered by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan should Muslim dare to hope for change.