Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama transition points to more war and repression

President-elect Barack Obama owes his victory, both in the Democratic primaries and the general election, in large part to the overwhelming hostility of the American people to the years of military aggression, torture, extraordinary rendition, domestic spying and all of the other crimes that will constitute the indelible legacy of the Bush administration.

Thanks to his carefully calibrated criticisms of these policies, as well as his indictment of his principal Democratic opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton, for her October 2002 vote authorizing the US invasion of Iraq, Obama’s “change you can believe in” was perceived by many, both in the US and abroad, as a promise that his election would signal an end to militarism and attacks on democratic rights.

As the transition to the new administration unfolds, however, belief in Obama’s promise of change can be sustained only to the extent that one fails to examine the political record of those who are involved in this process.

For the most part, the Obama-Biden transition team is staffed by veterans of the Clinton administration, associated with the US wars in the Balkans and the policy of regime change in Iraq that set the stage for the war that followed under the Bush presidency.

Symbolic of this relationship is Obama’s decision to send Clinton’s former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, to this weekend’s Group of 20 meeting in Washington as his personal emissary. Confronted in a 1996 interview on the CBS News program “60 Minutes” with the fact that US sanctions against Iraq had led to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children, Albright replied, “It’s a hard choice, but the price, we, think, is worth it.” She subsequently became a key architect of the US-backed dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the subsequent war against Serbia, which was marked by the widespread bombing of civilian targets. Such is Obama’s face to the world.
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