The American people are disappointed over US Pres. Obama’s performance. The magic of his rhetoric is failing amid the worsening poverty and the essentially unchanged policies.
By BENJIE OLIVEROS
US President Barack Obama brought hope to the American people amid the deep economic crisis confronting what is supposedly the biggest and strongest nation in the world. He ran under the banner of change. And the American people propelled him to power in an unprecendented manner, in a mass movement of sorts where volunteers turned out en masse to raise funds and take on campaign tasks.
Obama’s rehetoric electrified the nation and gave hope to a people beng battered by the crisis and being scarred once again by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that only those in power had a passion for. Former US president George W. Bush’s claim of promoting democracy was belied by the stiff resistance being waged by the Afghan and Iraqi people. Thus, when Obama promised change, the people responded.
However, halfway through his term, US Pres. Obama’s Democratic Party was badly beaten by the Republicans during the recent midterm elections, thereby losing control of the House of Representatives and almost losing its majority position in the Senate. The same thing happened to former US president Bush during the 2006 midterm elections before the Republicans lost the 2008 presidential elections. But that happened when the approval ratings of Bush was at its lowest.
Clearly, the American people are disappointed over US Pres. Obama’s performance. The magic of his rhetoric is failing amid the worsening poverty and the essentially unchanged policies.
US Pres. Obama criticized the former Bush administration’s economic policies, which resulted in the crisis, but apart from castigating the executives of financial investment houses and banks and imposing a ceiling on their salaries and perks, the Obama administration pursued the very same economic policies. Obama criticized the previous administration for not taking care of the needs of the American people, but apart from his flagship health care reform, which did not make a dent on the lives of millions of jobless Americans, his administration has done nothing to reverse the privatization of social services.
The US poverty rate increased from 13.2 percent in 2008 to 14.3 percent in 2009, affecting 43.6 million Americans. Twenty one percent of American children are living below the poverty line, the highest in 20 years. The 14.3 percent poverty rate is the highest since 1994. It is one of the highest percentage increase in a year, with the highest occuring in 1980 when the poverty rate jumped by 1.3 percent to 13 percent. Nearly one out of four Americans are unemployed. Even state employees were not spared from massive layoffs. Forty percent of those employed are in the service sector, where salaries are much lower. Sixty one percent of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, an increase from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
On the other hand, corporate profits for the first quarter of 2010 increased by 20 percent to a 100 percent. Exxon Mobil, for example, experienced a 100 percent increase in profits. This is a result not of a recovering economy – as mainstream economists are now talking of a double dip recession – but by shedding millions of jobs while increasing the output of the employed, forcing workers to accept lower wages while paying a bigger share of health care and pension benefits, gobbling up medium and small enterprises, getting tax breaks, interest-free loans and bail-out funds. The number of millionaires in the United States rose by16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009. The richest 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of the national income.
The Obama administration’s foreign policy remains unchanged, minus the bellicose rhetoric that Bush was fond of. The US substantially reduced its troops in Iraq to 50,000 but its forces in Afghanistan have reached 94,000. The US, upon orders from Pres. Obama, plans to increase its troops in Afghanistan to 98.000 by the end of the year. The Obama administration has not closed the infamous Guantanamo prison and has been effectively blocking investigations on torture committed by US troops on suspected ‘terrorists’. It has refused to call for an end to the Gaza siege by Israel, continues to impose sanctions on Iran, and lends a deaf ear to the demands of the international community to lift the economic blockade on Cuba,
Worse, the Obama administration deployed more Special Forces units to more countries, from 60 to 75 countries, to expand its covert wars. Among countries where Special Forces units are deployed, as mentioned by a June 4, 2010 article by Jeremy Schall published in The Nation, are Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Yemen, Pakistan (including in Balochistan) and the Philippines.
What would these Special Forces units be doing? A quote from Schall’s article reads, “While some of the special forces missions are centered around training of allied forces, often that line is blurred. In some cases, ‘training’ is used as a cover for unilateral, direct action. ‘It’s often done under the auspices of training so that they can go anywhere. It’s brilliant. It is essentially what we did in the 60s,’ says a special forces source. ‘Remember the ‘training mission’ in Vietnam? That’s how it morphs.'”
Other indications of an unchanged foreign policy are the awarding of a $120 million contract to private military contractor Blackwater in Afghanistan, the lifting of the ban on military aid to the Indonesian Special Forces unit Kopassus, which was involved in numeorus human rights violations in the late 1990s, and the authority given to the Central Intelligence Agency to expand its drone attacks in Pakistan. In the Philippines, it appears that US troops are merely shifting the focus of its operations from Basilan to the Cotabato provinces.
Should the Obama administration be surprised for the beating it got during the midterm elections? It should not. The only sad thing is, Americans appear to have no other choice but to bring the Republicans back in power. It is not a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. it is a choice between two roads to hell. (Bulatlat.com)