The Changing Facade of US Imperialism

Barrack Hussein Obama stoops – well, only a little bit – to conquer. His carefully prepared and brilliantly presented speech at the Islamic University of Cairo contained quotations from the Quran, rich references to Islam’s contribution to civilisation and his own personal connection to the faith – all geared to get Muslims around the world to accept US aggression in Afghanistan and Pakistan in return for lavish promises of benevolent policy changes elsewhere.

Eloquent rhetoric apart, Obama renewed his criticism of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the commitment to withdraw all troops from that country; showed a willingness to talk to the Iranian government without preconditions; and most important, dwelt extensively and forcefully on the Israel-Palestine imbroglio. He called on Arabs and Israelis not to “point fingers” at each other or to “see this conflict only from one side or the other” while remaining conveniently silent about the third side, that of the United States. He did reiterate a "two-state" solution (which has been the formal US position since a long time back) but did not utter a word about putting an end to US indulgence towards Israel. He opposed continued building of new settlements by Israel, not the "continued" existence of existing ones, which comprise half a million– and growing – illegal Jewish settlers. He decried regime change a la Iraq, but continues to practice it in Afghanistan, invoking women’s rights to gain support from secular Arabs and others. In his first 100 days, Obama has in fact managed to create two million Pakistani refugees; it took Israel 60 years to create 3.5 million Palestinian refugees.

Inconsistencies notwithstanding, Obama’s address has generally been well-received in the Arab world. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesperson said the speech contained “a message that Israel should understand well”. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said Mr. Obama’s words reflected a “tangible change,” despite containing “many contradictions”. True to its colours, Israel has reportedly planned a balancing act: to take down 22 unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank while pressing ahead with so-called "natural growth" construction in the settlements. Iran on its part insisted that the US President should match his words with concrete action.

Indeed, here lies the crux of the matter. This is something that cannot be left to the good wishes of an individual; it has to be achieved through struggle. And the present juncture is especially suitable for that, as we can see from several other developments.

A day before Obama delivered his celebrated speech in Cairo, the Organization of American States (OAS) unanimously scrapped the US-sponsored 1962 resolution expelling Cuba from the organisation. This represented an important victory for the growing anti-imperialist resistance by the people of Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean and a defeat for US policy in the region. Similarly the Cairo speech signifies a partial retreat from the failed policy of arrogant, absolute confrontationism of the George W. Bush era and a frantic attempt to overcome extreme international isolation. Connecting the dots, the bigger picture that we get is a continuation of US imperialist policy in a "soft power" mode that is counterbalanced by further intensification of aggression in the "Af-Pak" front.

This is the time -- when the enemy is tactically on the defensive and is trying to recoup its strength for a future offensive -- that the people of Palestine, of the Middle East, of the world at large must unite as one and intensify the struggle to compel the US President to carry out his promises and also to accede to what he has not promised, like immediately ending the interventions, armed or otherwise, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and other countries around the globe.

Liberation Archive