United States

Backwards with Obama

By Margaret Kimberley

The world is better off when an American president is obtuse, vulgar, uninformed and openly offensive. When such a person is in the white house, humanity has the common sense to be fearful. When a man resembling Alfred E. Newman spouts nonsense about “evil doers” and boasts, “You’re either with us or against us” all but the most foolish know they should be very wary. Now that an American president talks nice, quotes the Koran when speaking to Muslim audiences, and claims to want to engage the world, he is able to do much, much worse than his predecessor ever dreamed.

For eight years many Americans and the rest of the world waited with baited breath for the day that Bush would leave Washington, DC as a private citizen. Quite rightly, crowds serenaded him, singing “Hey, hey, hey, good-bye.” The happiness with which he was dispatched was justifiable, but the joy expressed at the coming of Obama was not.

Barack Obama has a unique ability to get the rest of the world to move backwards, even as he is praised for embracing a new vision of world unity and multilateralism.

The Durban II conference on racism was effectively rendered pointless by the machinations of the Obama administration. Not only did the United States refuse to attend, but it worked behind the scenes to make certain that countries, which were signatories to the Durban I document, were also absent. That betrayal of the world community was followed up by another American led betrayal of the international community.

While other nations signed treaties pledging to reduce carbon emissions the United States did not. The Kyoto protocol, like Durban I, was never adopted by the United States. George W. Bush was blamed for this intransigence but in fact his successor has set the bar even lower.

The European Union had been solidly behind the Kyoto Protocol and never wavered from its pledge to lower carbon emissions. As the Copenhagen climate change conference is about to convene in December, the EU has suddenly decided to scrap Kyoto and makes no promise about future emissions reductions.

The Obama administration is to blame for this backpedaling. While the U.S. has increased its rate of emissions by 27 percent since 1990, European nations reduced theirs by two percent. That number is not impressive but it is a reduction nonetheless. As in the case of the Durban II conference, even countries who previously had previously pledged to do the right thing, are now being forced to scrap Kyoto altogether, and they make it plain that American intransigence is to blame. The American negotiator put the matter simply, “We are not going to be in the Kyoto protocol.” If the U.S. scuttling of the agreement wasn’t in the news, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee was to blame. They praised Obama for addressing climate change as one of the reasons they foolishly awarded him their prize. “Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting.” To bad they weren’t reading the paper that week.

George W. Bush must be seething with jealousy. He could not have succeeded as Obama did in getting French president Sarkozy and U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown to join him in publicly lying about Iran and threatening to attack that nation. It seems now that there are many world leaders happy to be poodles to an American president, as long as he isn’t too rough around the edges.

The countries that we are told to respect as being more advanced don’t have the courage of their convictions. While Sarkozy and Brown join Obama in telling lies about Iran, Russia stands up to Hillary Clinton and informs her that in no uncertain terms will they join in imposing sanctions on that nation. Russia is not a democracy by any standard, but ironically their opposition to America’s empire may make them more useful to the world community than the wimpy democracies who allow themselves to be pushed around by the United States.

Despite the soaring rhetoric and foolish recognition from peace prize committees, the world is still living with a dangerous bully that must be placated. The United States is still not to be trusted. Not only does it consistently act against the interests of the rest of the world, but it forces other nations to behave equally badly.

Americans must never again make the mistake of dismissing a dumb president. Dumb presidents are feared and kept at bay. Smart ones are welcomed into the hen house, even though they are actually foxes.

Margaret Kimberley is Black Agenda Report editor and senior columnist. Her Freedom Rider column appears weekly in the BAR., October 19, 2009