"Effective Evil" or Progressives’ Best Hope? What to Make of Obama's Presidency
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AMY GOODMAN: President Barack Obama giving his acceptance address, talking about foreign policy. Glen, your response?
GLEN FORD: He’s not the peace president; he is the war president and recognized as such. That’s why his war-making prowess has such a high profile in his re-election campaign. At one point, President Obama was simultaneously drone-bombing five countries. Those were Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And he has succeeded in redefining war. These are historical accomplishments of the worst kind. He’s redefined war, and he did this with Libya, after bombing this country for seven months, certainly inflicting tens of thousands of deaths, although the United States doesn’t acknowledge how many people were killed. After seven months of bombing Libya, President Obama tells the U.S. Congress that this doesn’t come under the War Powers Act, because it wasn’t a war at all. And it wasn’t a war at all because, as far as we know, no Americans were killed. And this is a redefinition of war. This is truly historic, a redefinition of war. It is not a war, as far as Obama’s doctrine is concerned, unless Americans are killed. So you can slaughter as many people in the world as you want to, as long as Americans’ casualties are kept at low or no. Then it’s not a war, and it’s not even the Congress’s business what you do. So, this is definitely a war president.
And I do not understand why people who are peace-minded, like the good doctor, are not up in arms, why folk who oppose Republican wars cannot seem to bring themselves to oppose Democratic wars. But as a result of their failure to oppose these wars and the expansion of the definition or the alteration of the definition of wars, these will continue. And that lies on people like Dr. Dyson’s head.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, let me speak of that crown that you’ve laid on my head, or wreath or a crown of thorns. The reality is, is that U.S.A.'s use of torture has been rejected under Obama. Secret prisons from the CIA have been rejected. There's no question that Glen Ford’s stinging indictment of American foreign policy has to be taken into consideration, and, absolutely right, some of the contradictions of those of us on the left who have not spoken against the drones or not spoken out against the practice of redefining what war is or what casualties are. I have no interest in defending that.
But what’s interesting is that, again, a left foreign policy looks like what? The death of Osama bin Laden and the murderous—the end of a murderous regime of Muammar Gaddafi? I mean, the reality is, is that what do—what can we expect from the left in terms of dealing with the geopolitical realities of an international foreign policy that has to not only take into consideration indigenous forms of democracy that are being facilitated by people who ask for American intervention and who want the protection and the safeguard of a certain American presence, on the one hand, and then opening up avenues and borders of resistance through social media, where the Arab Spring obviously was not inviting American empire to rest squarely upon its neck, but asking for American energy to hoist its own democratic energies? Again, a left foreign policy has to take that into consideration.
And so, I would ask the good brother for the question, what does the American, the black American left do? Do you encourage people to vote? And do you encourage them to vote for Obama versus Romney? Or do you encourage a kind of apathy that throws your hand up and says, "We can’t do anything about American foreign policy. The liberal internationalism that Obama is practicing is hardly distinguishable from what preceded him with the interventionist politics, the pre—the prevention, if you will, of—the pre-intervention of a George W. Bush"? Is there no difference? I don’t hear Glen Ford articulating for actual voters on the ground, what will you do November 6? What do you encourage them to do?