'Peace president’ Obama takes parting shot at Russia in UN finale
Barack Hussein Obama, who sailed into the White House on wings of hope and glory eight brief years ago, bagging a Nobel Peace Prize less than a year in office without negotiating a single peace deal, leaves behind a smoldering, rubble-strewn legacy more befitting of a neoconservative warlord than a supposed Democratic progressive.
So instead of using his last speech before the UN General Assembly to politely return the blood-stained Nobel trophy, Obama spent his waning moments in the global spotlight uttering teleprompted tales of Russia aggression.
“We see Russia attempting to recover lost glory through force,” the US leader said without a hint of irony. “If Russia continues to interfere in the affairs of its neighbors, it may… fuel nationalist fervor for a time, but over time it’s also going to diminish its stature.”
Judging by the uncomfortable fidgeting that followed the remark, the audience may have been expecting some kind of a punch line. It never came. That’s probably because it was already delivered a week earlier in an article in The Washington Post, which described how the US military spent its Labor Day weekend (hint: not relaxing).
“While Americans savored the last moments of summer this Labor Day weekend, the U.S. military was busy overseas as warplanes conducted strikes in six countries in a flurry of attacks,” the paper reported with patriotic overtones.
Here’s a breathtaking glimpse at Washington’s six-nation weekend tour: “In Iraq and Syria, between Saturday and Monday, the United States conducted about 45 strikes against Islamic State targets. On the other side of the Mediterranean, in the Libyan city of Sirte, U.S. forces also hit fighters with the militant group. On Sunday in Yemen, a U.S. drone strike killed six suspected members of al-Qaeda… The following day, just across the Gulf of Aden in Somalia, the Pentagon targeted al-Shabab, another group aligned with al-Qaeda. The military also conducted several counterterrorism strikes over the weekend in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and the Islamic State are on the offensive.”
Now that's some wild weekend, the results of which were barely mentioned in the mainstream media.
One day before Obama’s UN speech, however, the American blitzkrieg hit a snag as the US military bombed a Syrian Army post near the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, where government forces have been putting up a gallant fight against Islamic State terrorists since last year. The US ‘mistake’ (BREAKING! The Russian Defense Ministry says a US coalition drone was in the vicinity of the convoy at the time of the attack) cost 62 Syrian soldiers their lives, as well as endangering a fragile US-Russian brokered ceasefire.
Russia called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting following the attack, but was chastised by US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, for “grandstanding”. Power, appearing at the UN noticeably frazzled, told Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin that the Russian demand for the emergency meeting was a rude “stunt.”
In a nod to the Machiavellian maxim that commands “might is right,” nobody, it seems, has the right to lecture the arrogant American superpower on its increasingly irresponsible behavior.
Cost of empire
All of Washington’s empty talk about Russia trying to “restore empire” is cheap rhetorical camouflage to conceal an empire that is already up and running, covering the entire planet with all the tenacity of kudzu. We are talking about the American Empire, of course, which makes the Roman Empire look like a Mediterranean book club.
According to a just-released study by the Watson Institute, as of August 2016, “the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016).”
The US spends 11 times more than Russia on military expenditures. According to the Department of Defense, the budget for the military spending in 2016 is $585 billion, an amount that consumes more than 54 percent of the country’s total budget (after all, safe roads and bridges are so overestimated these days). In fact, military spending in the United States is so crazy out of control that the Pentagon actually managed to “lose track of” over 2 trillion dollars, as announced by former Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld on September 10, 2001 (understandably, the accounting error was quickly forgotten the next day).
Washington spends more on defense than the other top five military spenders combined, including China and Russia. This has led to unsightly US military sprawl across the planet, which, ironically, is doing nothing to make the world a safer place.
While Americans would shudder at the thought of a foreign military presence on its own soil, there are now about 800 US military franchises around the world. The fact that not all of these military installations are promoting the cause of democracy - a rallying cry the US regularly employs to excuse its excesses at the expense of its victims - is evident by reported black-hole sites in Eastern Europe, which were used to torture suspects in the ‘war on terror’, to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where most of the detainees were innocent of any wrongdoing. The latter facility, despite empty promises by Obama on the old campaign trail, is still open for business.
Disturbingly, most Americans - even among the university circuit where anti-war protests were once-upon-a-time most vocal – rarely give America’s global military footprint any critical thought.
“To the extent that Americans think about these bases at all, we generally assume they’re essential to national security and global peace,” wrote David Vine in The Nation. “Our leaders have claimed as much since most of them were established during World War II and the early days of the Cold War. As a result, we consider the situation normal and accept that US military installations exist in staggering numbers in other countries, on other peoples’ land. On the other hand, the idea that there would be foreign bases on US soil is unthinkable.”
Meanwhile, Russia the "aggressor" has never invaded the territory of another country - unless it suffered an attack first (Georgia 2008), or was invited into a foreign country (Syria 2015) - since going to war in Afghanistan in 1979.
Thus, to accuse Russia of attempting to “recover lost glory through force” is simply an attempt to distort reality in order to mask the true aggressor on the global stage, the United States, which is flagrantly violating international law by conducting military operations around the planet without so much as an intervention invitation from the victimized countries. And they say they are defending democracy?
Obama’s accusations against Russia are nothing more than a smokescreen to conceal the real injustices – even atrocities - being committed by the United States and its global military juggernaut that has lost all sense of reality, as so often is the case with countries grappling with a powerful drug known as Super Power.
And like a paranoid addict in desperate need of rehabilitation, not another hit, any foreign nation that dares attempt to protect its vital interests is now viewed as an enemy.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.