Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Imperial Presidency




...let's not forget reality. Barack Obama did not win an election to be president of Goodwill Industries, or the YMCA, or the Ford Foundation. He may be remarkable in many ways, but he is also president of the United States which means that he is head honcho for the globe's single great garrison state which now, to a significant extent, lives off war and the preparations for future war.

So writes Tom Engelhardt over at TomDispatch.com. You would think this would go without saying, that the election of Barack Obama while an achievement does not dismantle the American Empire. But at times, it seems that as long as the guy crossing the Rubicon is a charming, charasmatic and good-natured person, many lose sight of this perspective.



Certainly those who hold the reins of power now aren't some neoconservative cabal with dreams of a Pax Americana. Yet neither are they willing to confront America's imperial ambitions. In fact, most Americans seem to believe in the notion of an "exceptional America"--that is fated, or destined, to run the world. Either that, or the rest of the world is supposed to work the way we want them to.

Sure you can elect who you want in your foreign country, but if we don't like him or her, we will levy sanctions, frame them as global pariahs and support (openly or covertly) their opposition.

Sure you're free to trade your own resources, but make sure we get it at a price that's beneficial to us--not your own people. And if you don't, democratically elected or not, you may get on our bad side.

It's wrong to kill innocent men and women to achieve your objectives--unless its one of our drones or airstrikes, which is just collateral damage.

And yeah, we have a right to spend more on military might than the rest of the world combined, with bases ringing the globe, but that's because the other people with far less weaponry is the real "threat."

That's the America Barack Obama inherited. Like the "one ring" the imperial presidency is filled with power and potential; but it's yet to be seen whether anyone can wield it for good rather than for ill.

Tom Engelhardt's full article here.

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