by Editor (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 12, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1433)
State of the Union addresses by US presidents are occasions for chest thumping and blowing the American trumpet. Barack Obama tried to do just that on January 24 but he did it against the backdrop of a crippled economy and his own approval ratings hovering at 45.9%. That the approval rating of the Republican controlled Congress is even lower — at 13.3% — will offer him little consolation.
As expected, Obama tried to hide behind platitudes: “proud to salute the colors,” America’s “finest” in uniform and “that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.” Where and by whom? For people everywhere, America conjures up images of Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay torture chambers. These are hardly symbols of respect. He also claimed that for “the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.”
This is only partly true. Americans have been driven out of Iraq but some of their mercenaries linger on contributing to the mayhem that is occurring in Iraq, a country left in ruins. He also tried to claim credit for the murder of Osama bin Laden. When the president of a country claiming superpower status revels in the murder of an ailing, almost incapacitated man who had ceased to be relevant, it reflects the depths of depravity to which the US has fallen. Obama told other lies as well: Iran is “isolated.” It isn’t — the US is. Consider the latest round of sanctions the US tried to impose on Iran.
China, Russia, Japan, India and Turkey all told the US to go fly a kite, some more bluntly than others. Even Italy and Spain spurned Washington. But Obama’s real message was about the state of the economy and the high unemployment facing Americans. Thieving executives also came in for a tongue lashing. Obama’s address stood in sharp contrast with earlier ones when American presidents acted as if they were masters of the world. They lectured others on how to behave or that America will come with guns blazing to deliver democracy.
In the past, American presidents also claimed they would bail out failing countries and feed the hungry. Today, it is America that needs bailing out and handouts from the Chinese.Obama admitted that “the house of cards collapsed” in 2008. “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money. Regulators had looked the other way…” The result was millions of Americans lost their homes and jobs. While Obama claimed three million new jobs were created in the last 22 months, these are not enough to reverse the trend.
It will take decades before Americans get back to where they were in 2007, if at all, since most jobs have gone overseas. He said: “It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.”Perhaps the most revealing statement Obama made was: “I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products.” This is what America and its allies in Europe have been doing for centuries: invading other countries, occupying them and stealing their resources.
But with the humiliation suffered by the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq, this may no longer be possible. Even as he talked about a “return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility” Obama admitted that the political system was hostage to moneyed classes, calling it “the corrosive influence of money in politics.” He urged Congress to ban “insider trading” by its members. Nearly 50% of congress members are millionaires; the rest are in the pockets of millionaires. By emphasizing that America’s commitment to Israel was “iron-clad”, he admitted who really controls America: Israeli interests peddled into Congress by an agnostic, Jewish financial and business class.Obama’s State of the Union address could be summed up in a single sentence: it was about jobs, including his own, and the economy. The rest was all pablum for the masses.