States and eventually become part of the mainstream
discourse.” Heer, a student of political culture, was describing a “very
well coordinated” mechanism put into operation by former now-jailed media
baron, Conrad Black, observing that “Black has been wounded by his own
financial shenanigans, but the international network he created is still
I have no idea whether this network
is really still extant but the practice described is very much at play
in the mounting attacks on Presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Heer made his observation a few weeks
ago after false reports made their way from our northern neighbor that
Obama had privately told Canadian officials not to take his public criticism
of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seriously. The tale
is thought to have cost the Illinois senator in the
primary in Ohio where the trade
pact is anything but popular.
Shortly after the NAFTA flap, Obama’s
foreign policy advisor left the campaign following a controversy that
arose after she called his opponent Senator Hillary Clinton “a monster”
in off-the-cuff, off the record remarks to a Scottish journalist. Of course,
one incident – or even two - doesn’t establish a pattern but the foreign
media attacks on Obama have been going on for some time and there are
numerous slurs and absurd allegations floating out there in cyberspace
drawn from newspapers from a number of countries.
A harsh and racially condescending
attack appeared in a leading German magazine last year as the campaign
was barely underway. An idiotic commentary appeared in a British magazine,
authored by what the Observer newspaper termed “Britain’s
most influential black figure,” accusing Obama of “ruthless cynicism.”
A scurrilous attack on the candidate’s wife appeared in a widely read
English-language Asian publication. The same charges made their way last
week onto the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal by way
of a member of the paper’s editorial board who complains that Michelle
Obama, “has left little doubt about her views of American society, and
its people,” noting that “these views have received relatively scant coverage”
and suggesting that as First Lady she would be hounded by “foreign reporters
who have attentively covered the campaign and who have questions to ask.”
A coordinated attack? Of course. But
Surely much of the recent attacks on
the Illinois senator have their origins in the Clinton
campaign, especially the hardly subtle efforts to inject race into the
picture. However, I would suggest that there are other forces involved
as well. Hillary may be desperately throwing “the kitchen sink” at Barack
but others have started lobbing the garbage can.
There can be little doubt that there
are people high in the U.S. political establishment – including some in
the Democratic party - that have adopted an anyone-but-Obama stance. They
include some of the same personalities Heer describes as facilitating
Conrad Black’s network. They had to have been cheered and encouraged by
candidate Clinton’s repeated suggestion that only she and Republican contender
John McCain have the necessary credentials to lead the nation. And this
has even stirred suggestion that having failed to secure the nomination, Clinton would be well placed to make a rerun in
the event of the Republicans hanging on to the White House.
Meanwhile, the political right has,
over the past couple of weeks, stepped up its campaign against Obama.
Last week, the internet service of Human Events offered its readers
a “special report” titled, “Barack Obama Exposed.” “From his radical stance
on abortion to his prominence in the corruption scandals that has been
virtually ignored by the mainstream media,
Barack Obama is
not fit to be Senator - not to mention the next President of the United
States,” it said. “Obama has declared his presidential
intentions, but it is up to well-informed and energetic conservatives
like you to spare our nation from the scourge of a far-left
President Barack H. Obama.”
At this point we have to ask: why these
assaults, coming as it as they do from numerous sources, on Obama?
“Two seemingly disconnected events
have created a suddenly dangerous turn regarding the future of U.S.
wars in the Middle East,” wrote Robert Perry in consortiumnews.com Mar.14.
“One was the abrupt resignation of the person who has been the biggest
obstacle to a U.S.
military strike against Iran,
Admiral William Fallon, the chief of Central Command which oversees U.S. military operations
in the volatile region.
“The second is the ugly direction that
the Democratic presidential competition has taken, with Hillary Clinton’s
campaign intensifying its harsh rhetoric against Barack Obama, reducing
the likelihood that he can win the presidency – and thus raising the odds
that the next president will be either John McCain or Sen. Clinton, both
hawks on Iran.
“Throughout the campaign, Clinton has mocked Obama as inexperienced for his desire to engage in
presidential-level diplomacy with Iran and other adversarial states,” wrote Perry.
“And she recently judged him as unqualified to serve as Commander in Chief,
while declaring that both she and Sen. McCain have crossed that ‘threshold’.”
(Obama’s position drew support last
week from none other than former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who
told Bloomberg News he would negotiate with Teheran. "If
is a nation and wants to be respected as a nation we will and must find
a way to coexist with it,” he said. “If Iran wanted a settlement to be reached, we would
have an obligation on our part to come up with a reasonable position.
I do not believe that regime change can be an objective of our foreign
“The cumulative effect of Clinton’s
attacks on Obama’s qualifications – combined with her campaign’s efforts
to turn many white voters against him as the ‘black candidate’– has buoyed
Republican hopes for November,” wrote Perry.
“If followed to its logical – yet crazed
– conclusion, the madness also might be leading the United States into the ever deepening abyss of
Middle East wars,” says Perry. “After all, both McCain and Clinton were
staunch supporters of the Iraq War, now at its fifth anniversary with
no end in sight.
“McCain remains an Iraq War advocate,
even he says if the U.S. occupation must last a century or more. Clinton
only reversed herself on the war as she prepared to run for the Democratic
nomination, realigning herself with the anti-war views of most Democrats,
but she refused to admit that her 2002 war-authorization vote was a mistake.
“Both McCain and Clinton also favor
a hard line toward Iran.”
Perry, author of a new book, “Neck
Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush,”
says intelligence sources have told him that President Bush and Vice President
Dick Cheney were eyeing possible air strikes against Iranian targets in
2007 before they encountered Fallon’s stiff opposition. These same sources
have discounted the threat of an imminent attack on Iran; however, one of them suggested that Fallon
opted out partly because the White House wanted to update a provisional
“More likely, the sources say, the
issue of how to deal with Iran will pass to the next president,” writes
Perry. “In that regard, McCain and Clinton promise more tough talk and
belligerence, while Obama vows to speak directly with Iran’s leaders over
how to reduce tensions.
“Yet, the combined events of the past
several days – the sudden ouster of the chief military opponent of an
expanded war in the Middle East and the apparent decline in the political
fortunes of the most dovish candidate – suggest that the Bush-Cheney belligerent
strategies may well outlast their terms of office.”
The neo-conservatives who brought us
the war in Iraq,
now in its sixth year, through fear and lies, have regrouped around the
McCain campaign. But, their loyalties are not necessarily to one political
party. And they are turning up the heat on Obama. One of them, William
Kristol (who says McCain occasionally calls him for foreign policy advice)
used his New York Times column Monday to accuse Obama of having
“a dash of deceit,” and went on to wonder out loud: “Might the country
be better off with the cynicism of the Clintons than the conceit of Obama.”
And, they can be ruthless, these neo-cons.
Last Saturday, the “Prince of Darkness” Richard Perle, one of the chief
architects of the Iraq war, observed the anniversary of the carnage by
placing responsibility for it’s duration and expense on Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, former Defense Secretary Colin Powell and former CIA
Director George Tenet. Most of them did not support George W. when he
first sought the Republican nomination eight year ago; they were in McCain’s
camp. Because, according to James Mann in the “Rise of the Vulcans – The
History of Bush’s War Cabinet,” McCain championed the Clinton Administration’s
armed dismemberment of Yugoslavia.
Oh, what a tangled web these people weave.
As this is being written both Vice-President
Cheney and McCain are jaunting around the Middle
East. As if that weren’t scary enough, neoconservative hawk Senator Joseph
Lieberman is in McCain’s entourage. They are up to no good and it’s assumed
that Cheney’s trip is related primarily to Iran.
How this might relate to the domestic
scene was perhaps best summarized by an AFP headline: “McCain eyes
statesman's image, Obama under fire.”
Candidate Obama can sometimes say misleading
– and sometime silly things. Last Saturday in trying to deal with the
country’s economic crisis he sought to trace responsibility to the U.S.
China trade deficit. Charging Beijing with unfairly keeping its momentary
exchange rate low to gain a competitive edge against the U.S. is ludicrous
when one considers this is exactly what the U.S. is doing via-a-vis the European Union. The origins of the crisis here at
home didn’t originate abroad but lie in ruinous policies cooked up in
Washington and on Wall Street. We can’t expect
Obama to acknowledge that much of its stems from the working of contemporary
capitalism (he probably doesn’t even think so) but I find his refusal
to deal forthrightly and decisively with the economic pain and insecurity
plaguing the land baffling.
Being nice is nice. Solving problems
by getting Wall Street and Main Street in the same room is a fine idea. But speaking out clearly
and resolutely in the interest of working people (and ending the war)
is a better one and the only one that will get Obama elected. It ain’t
over till its over. He’s seen the kitchen sink; now watch out for the
Board member Carl Bloice is a writer in San
Francisco, a member of the National Coordinating Committee of
the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and formerly
worked for a healthcare union. Click
here to contact Mr. Bloice.