There are by necessity, two different Barack Obamas… an almost dual personality disorder-like entity. The domestic president, is the one full of the vigour for change, presenting an agenda that will, even against their foolish opposition, better the American people.
The other Barack Obama, the Mr Hyde personality, resides in his foreign policy. Here, he is not about change, but for maintaining the foolish, even dangerous American-led status quo where everything and everyone in the world must revolve around the United States.
But perhaps there is only one Barack Obama, an almost useless figurehead of a president who does what is allowed to him. In this, his fiddling with Americana is acceptable. Perhaps because Americans are too far gone for change, or because they are too useless to matter about.
Foreign policy is a different story. It’s the lifeblood of America. It is what keeps America going… controlling everything for the sole benefit of USA! USA!
Many years ago, science fiction writers (I regard them as prophets) posited the idea that many multinational leaders wished a world where nation states were redundant and corporation states as in, ‘the united states of Apple, and Great Sainsbury’ or such, would rule. Governance being too important to put in the hands of politicians.
In such a world, most individual countries wouldn’t matter, only the health and wealth of the corporations. Farfetched? Maybe. But the thought comes to me when I see Obama trying for effective change in his local agenda but zilch in his foreign equivalent.
Let’s look at four recent news stories, all on the same day.
“Myanmar sentences Suu Kyi to house arrest”, “Thais reject Us request for extradition of Russian arms smuggler”, “South America concerned about US military in Colombia”, and “Illinois man faces 6 months in jail for yawning”.
Three of the 4 stories have deal with the concept we call ‘justice’.
Myanmar is one of those countries on the western world’s shit-list. Oftentimes, western politicians and journalists, disrespectfully referred to it by its old name, Burma. Once a colonial outpost of Britain, it is now led by a military dictatorship not particularly friendly to western governments, who as is par for the course, wants Myanmar to take up the mantle of ‘democracy’.
The west rallies around Aung San Suu Kyi regarding her as a ‘democracy leader’ (she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize), but she has been under house arrest for some time, one of the terms being that she has no outside contacts with foreign elements.
On May 3, an American man allegedly made an uninvited visit to Suu Kyi’s house, triggering the violation of conditions of her arrest, especially since she allowed the man to stay for several days. This led to the eventual lengthening of house arrest for Suu Kyi.
As to be expected, western voices rose up in angry denunciations of the sentencing as politically motivated, with president Obama terming her conviction as a violation of ‘the universal principle of human rights’, adding that she should be released immediately.
In the UN Security Council, ex-colonial powers Britain and France, and wannabe colonial power the United States, demanded release of ALL political prisoners. The European Union said that judges involved in the sentencing of Suu Kyi would now have ‘…their overseas assets frozen and travel to the EU banned’.
So much for the back story.
When America protests such type of arrests and imprisonment of political or non-political figures, I’m always reminded of several things. The first always is the fact that with 5% of the world’s population, America has 25% of the world’s prison population.
It also reminds me of the fate of a Boca Raton medical doctor I know, who was arrested in a federal sting operation and convicted in a NY courtroom of terrorism charges, then sentenced to 20 years in prison.
All that Rafiq Sabir was found guilty and sentenced on, was that he swore allegiance to al Qaida. He was not found to have killed anyone, blow up anything or plotting to do either.
Is Sabir and others like him, victims of sting (terrorist) operations also not political prisoners?
You see, I know Sabir. I was down in the Miami Art District with him and his wife (a Jamaican nurse), the week before his arrest, and at his family home a few weeks before. He has never in my presence, in any way, shape or form, legitimized or supported Osama bin Laden or al Qaida. He always condemned them for 9/11.
He loved his family, particularly his two sons. He was a quiet man who quoted the Koran and I never heard him suggest violence against anyone. Could I be wrong about him? Of course, though I think I’m a fairly good judge of character.
But his case is not unique. He is one of many people who end up in jail simply because they mouth off opposition on the US government, and fit a particular stereotype.
So I view such protestations by Obama and his western colleagues as a bit of twisted irony.
At the same time that this little charade was taking and still is taking place, a Thai court rejected a US request for extradition of an alleged Russian arms dealer. In a sting operation (yes another one), Viktor Bout was arrested after US agents posed as weapons buyers for the Revolutionary Armed Forcers (FARC) which operates in Colombia.
The Thai judge ruled against extradition because while Washington classifies FARC as a terrorist organization, Thailand does not, and thus he considered Bout a political prisoner.
The Americans are angry even to the point of claiming that the Thai legal system is corrupted and that Russia bought off judges. For more, see http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090811/ap_on_re_as/as_thailand_us_arms_dealer
And as the stomach continues to turn, South American states are deeply concerned about the planned increase of US forces in Colombia based on this country’s long history of intervention and meddling.
Meantime, the US isn’t moving too fast to undermine the rogue regime in Honduras which has, by coup, removed the legitimately elected president Manuel Zelaya. It is felt all over the South American political landscape, that the US’s slow movement is simply to run out the clock on Zelaya (who they don’t like), as the rogue regime intends to call early elections with Zelaya in exile abroad.
Justice on the home front also isn’t too pretty, and the reason why America is the runaway leader in the prisoners per capita’ league is clearly underscored in a recent judicial decision in Illinois.
There a man, a black man, was jailed on contempt of court charges. His original sentence, six months. His crime, yawning loudly in court. Yes, that sound we make when we are sleepy.
The man, Clifton Williams was freed after serving 21 days.
Quoting directly from the Chicago Tribune, “As Williams stood before the bench in shackles on Thursday, the judge gave him a short lecture. He told Williams he wasn’t in custody for simply yawning but for making a sound “that was offensive to the court.”
Please note, ‘in shackles’ (what a danger to civil society). Also please note that Williams like Henry Louis Gates, was a victim of a subjective opinion by a lawmaker as to what constituted a crime.