Third-term power grab for Barack Obama? Why not?!
Addressing the African Union this week, the US Commander-in-Chief, jumping into costume as a champion of democracy, somberly acknowledged that “democratic progress is… at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end.” Then, in the very next line, he delivered the audience - still happily clapping the initial statement - a sucker punch by adding: “I do not understand this.”
As is usually the case when super-powerful people utter crazy, disturbing things, the audience responded with nothing more objectionable than confused, nervous laughter.
Perhaps most of us can agree that there is something at the very least strange, at worst, sinister, about a two-term president - and especially one who has never shown much respect for the sacred Constitution – cracking jokes over his desire to hold onto the reins of power for a third consecutive term.
Although the Democratic leader backpedalled on his remark, explaining that “under our Constitution, I cannot run again [chuckle, chuckle],” the last seven years of Obama’s reign of terror only invites the obvious question, “Why not?” Why shouldn’t Barack Obama - who has methodically droned foreign countries without the consent of Congress, spied on the American people without the consent of Congress, and militarized our local police forces with both the machinery and tactics of the US military without the consent of Congress - not go ahead and take the next logical step and make a historic power grab, Julius Caesar style?
We had a dream
Does anybody still remember how enthralled the world was at the prospect of an American leader coming to power who genuinely seemed intent on defending the interests of the downtrodden people, who had just been dragged through eight long years of George W. Bush’s war presidency?
To put the situation into its correct perspective, here is Drew Weston, professor of psychology at Emory University, describing the dark, desperate mood that had descended upon the nation around the time Obama was being sworn into office in January 2008.
“When Barack Obama rose to the lectern on Inauguration Day, the nation was in tatters. Americans were scared and angry. The economy was spinning in reverse. Three-quarters of a million people lost their jobs that month. Many had lost their homes, and with them the only nest eggs they had. Even the usually impervious upper middle class had seen a decade of stagnant or declining investment, with the stock market dropping in value with no end in sight. Hope was as scarce as credit.”
Weston provided various reasons as to why America’s first black leader failed to resolve the country’s most pressing issues, including his lack of solid political experience prior to being lifted into the presidency, a reluctance to take a firm stand against the “villains” who knowingly wrecked the global economy out of pure greed, and an unrealistic belief that conciliation with the take-no-prisoner Republicans was somehow an option.
Although I agree with Weston’s general argument that Obama’s presidency has been a dismal failure, the Democratic leader can’t be blamed for failing to do something that he never tried to do in the first place. If an Olympian athlete, for example, refuses to hurl the javelin when it’s his turn, we cannot say he failed. He simply declined to do what was expected of him, thus forfeiting his legacy, I would imagine, to the wrath of future historians (although considering that even George W. Bush is getting a decent press these days, Obama will probably come out smelling like roses).
In any case, what Obama has succeeded at doing as President is at complete odds with what he promised the American people: The guilty bankers are still roaming Wall Street like a pack of wolves with even more wealth than before the 2008 financial crash; the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where over 100 prisoners - many of them innocent of the charges against them - is still open for business; a full frontal assault on the civil and constitutional rights of the American people; the egregious attack of sovereign states, namely Libya, without the consent of Congress.
Judging by the above ‘achievements’ it would be very difficult to distinguish between an Obama and a Bush (much like it will be nearly impossible to distinguish between the 2016 presidential candidates, most likely to be Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush). Indeed, through much of his two terms in office Obama has behaved more like a neoconservative than a Liberal. This should come as no surprise given that Washington has been practically hijacked by the military industrial lobby, which depends on the harvesting of war plunder for its survival.
Having landed his job on Pennsylvania Avenue on the promise of ending his predecessor’s warmongering, Obama behaved no better when he ordered US military intervention in Libya without getting approval from Congress.
Here is how Obama told the US people that they would be getting knee-deep in the domestic disorder of yet another foreign country: “President Barack Obama hosted 18 senior lawmakers at the White House… to "consult" with them about the new plan to intervene in Libya, exactly 90 minutes before Obama announced that plan to the world and one day after his administration successfully pushed for authorization of military force at the United Nations,” as Foreign Policy magazine explained.
No public debate, no public discussion, no public democracy. No different at all from the Bush years. And just like that, Libya, formerly Africa’s most advanced country that had provided its citizens with a first-class medical and education system (thanks to its late leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was murdered like a dog on the street by a NATO-backed mob) joined Afghanistan and Iraq as the latest sovereign state to collapse under America’s diabolical ‘planting the seeds of democracy’ experiment.
Totally ignoring his empty promise of ‘Hope & Change,’ Obama gave the banking class a gentle slap on the wrist and sent them back to Wall Street to collect their yearly Christmas bonuses. Not a single financier responsible for shattering millions of American dreams spent a single day in a prison cell.
And while America was asleep on the couch, casually ignoring the undemocratic developments taking place with shocking regularity around the world, it didn’t notice that the menacing machine was returning home to settle other accounts.
Obama crosses the Rubicon
So, was it all just coincidence that at the very same time the Obama administration was giving Wall Street a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, and the rabble of the Occupy Wall Street movement was gaining a head of steam, the Defense Department was dispatching millions of dollars’ worth of military equipment to local police forces around the country? In fact, as Newsweek reported, “America has been quietly arming its police for battle since the early 1990s.”
Although the excuse for turning local police forces into veritable armies was to battle against the drug lords from South America, recent events around the country, where the police are resorting to military-style techniques when dealing with the very citizens they are meant to protect, has exposed the lie.
Is it any wonder that an increasing number of unarmed suspects – many of them young and black - are being killed at the hands of these paramilitary outfits?
Essentially what has happened – intentionally or otherwise – is that the US government has found an ingenious way of skirting Posse Comitatus, an act that was signed in 1878 that is designed to limit the powers of the federal government in using the military to act as domestic law enforcement. Now that US police have many of the toys available to the US military, the Obama administration has found yet another way to ignore the law of the land.
Meanwhile, multiple government agencies have been on a bullet-buying spree.
As Infowars reported in April: “The Department of Homeland Security is set to purchase over 62 million rounds of ammo typically used in AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, just weeks after the ATF was forced to back down on a ban on M855 bullets.”
Finally, in what must certainly rank as a conspiracy theorist’s worst nightmare, the US military has just kicked off 'Jade Helm 15', a domestic military exercise that brings together over 1,000 members from the nation’s elite forces, including Green Berets, Special Ops from the Navy and Marines, and SEALS. The operation, which will take place across seven southwestern states, will give America's toughest soldiers an opportunity to practice “unconventional warfare.”
"They're going to set up cells of people and test how well they're able to move around without getting too noticed in the community," Roy Boyd, chief deputy with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, told the Houston Chronicle. "They're testing their abilities to basically blend in with the local environment and not stand out and blow their cover."
But the mystery surrounding Jade Helm 15, which takes as its motto, “Master the Human Domain,” promises to grow even more because the media – which has rode shotgun with the US military in the dangerous sands of Iraq and Afghanistan – will not be invited to report on these domestic military exercises (!).
“All requests from the media for interviews and coverage of US Army Special Operations Command personnel, organizations and events are assessed for feasibility and granted when and where possible,” Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, a spokesman for Army Special Operations Command, Lastoria said in a statement given to The Washington Post. “We are dedicated to communicating with the public, while balancing that against the application of operations security and other factors.”
There was a strict rule in Roman times that said that no military commnader was permitted to enter the territory of the republic in the company of armed soldiers. There were some very good and obvious reasons for such a law. Thus, when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in defiance of Rome and Pompey, he uttered the famous words, “The die has been cast.”
Given the rather curious circumstances of the American people with regards to their increasingly imperial presidency, and the issues that it is creating for safeguarding civil liberties, not to mention the Constituion itself, it may be the right time to ask whether the proverbial die has been cast for them as well.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Robert Bridge is the author of the book, "Midnight in the American Empire," which documents the dangerous consequences of excessive corporate power in a democracy.