Imagine

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THE claim that the world needs the US to oust dictators and promote democracy has never been quite accurate, or even honest. George W. Bush maintained that both were his administration’s goals in Iraq, but never once mentioned that Iraqi oil reserves were at that time estimated at 112 billion barrels, but could be as much as 350 billion barrels. If promoting democracy in Iraq meant re-opening its oil resources to Western oil companies, the US did promote democracy — and Chevron’s interests — there.

As for ousting dictators, numerous countries had done that long before it occurred to Bush Jr. and his predecessors that the US has the divine right to make the world safe for US corporate interests. The Haitians ousted Francois Duvalier in 1971; Indonesia’s Suharto, in power for 32 years, was ousted in 1998 — and the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown by the EDSA mutiny in 1986.

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High hopes and low points

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Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States and the first black to assume that post on January 20, 2009. He was elected in November 2008 on a tide of hopeful support both at home and abroad. Both at home and abroad, many people thought that his term would be unlike that of his predecessor’s, and that, on the contrary, it would address and bring to a satisfying close some of the issues that had haunted the US for eight years, including the war of several fronts the fight against terrorism had become.

The hopes were understandable. The US economy was in shambles, with jobs lost, manufacturing plants shut and many facing uncertain futures. Worse of all, as Obama noted in his inaugural speech, while the economic and social indicators of the crisis were evident — “ Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet,” “less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.”

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Master of the double standard

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguistics professor and political activist Noam Chomsky — the world’s best known public intellectual — says somewhere that the United States’ prescriptions for other economies it wouldn’t dare follow itself, knowing how catastrophic the consequences could be to its own economy.

As if to once again prove Chomsky right, the US government has put together a record-breaking $700 billion plan to acquire the distressed assets of US private banks and other financial firms to save them from ruin, and possibly stave off a devastating depression.

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Black man’s burden

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It’s become conventional wisdom among observers in the United States and other countries that a Democratic Party victory this November will mean a shift in US government policies at home and abroad. It doesn’t matter who the Democratic candidate for president will be. Although they have different styles, the thinking went, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would undo the damage eight years of the George W. Bush presidency have inflicted on both the United States and the world.

Barack Obama’s emergence as the Democratic Party candidate for President this November is at least partly due to the results of the surveys, most of which show that despite his race, Obama could defeat Republican John McCain. Despite her support across a broad spectrum of white workers, the middle-class and women, Hillary Clinton’s being a woman, and an aggressive one at that, has been widely held against her. It suggests that sexism’s an even more difficult hurdle in US politics than racism.

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