I tuned in Wednesday evening for Barack Obama’s let’s-bomb-Syria speech and heard this:
What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?
My friend Swamp Rabbit stopped reading the new biography of Woodrow Wilson and spit out the window into the swamp. He said to the TV, “Dude, you should never ask a question that begs for an answer you won’t like.”
The pesky little rodent had a point. An honest answer to Obama’s question would be that we live in a cynical world where dictators — and some presidents — invoke morality and basic decency to justify using raw power to advance their own interests.
As for international law, Obama must be oblivious to irony. Most civilized countries would have put George W. Bush on trial for crimes committed in prosecuting the so-called war on terror, but Obama, when he took office, quickly snuffed out hope that Bush and his gang would even face a federal investigation.
Predictably, Obama used his Wednesday speech to invoke American exceptionalism, something presidents have been doing since Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany so that the world could “be made safe for democracy.” But the joke was on Obama when the devious Vladimir Putin scolded him in yesterday’s New York Times: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”
Footnote: Among other things, Obama’s obsession with bombing Syria is his way of distracting attention from the fact that he has done little to restore the economic health of America’s middle class and everything to bail out and increase the wealth of the plutocrats who run the big banks and corporations. Robert Reich:
More than four years after the recession officially ended, 11.5 million Americans are unemployed, many of them for years. Nearly 4 million have given up looking for work altogether…
…And the median wage keeps dropping, adjusted for inflation. Incomes for all but the top 1 percent are below where they were at the start of the economic recovery in 2009…
A decent society would put people to work — even if this required more government spending on roads, bridges, ports, pipelines, parks and schools.
All in good time, I guess. Maybe after the plutocrats hoard another trillion or two.