As a presidential candidate, Barrack Obama described the war in Iraq as one that “should never have been authorised and never been waged”. (www.wsws.org/articles/2009/mar2009/pers-m02.shtml) On February 27, as president, Obama saw it differently. He told US troops at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina:
“You have fought against tyranny and disorder. You have bled for your best friends and for unknown Iraqis. And you have borne an enormous burden for your fellow citizens, while extending a precious opportunity to the people of Iraq. Under tough circumstances, the men and women of the United States military have served with honor, and succeeded beyond any expectation.” (’Obama’s Speech at Camp Lejeune, N.C.,’ New York Times, February 27, 2009; nytimes.com
This might best be described as Generic Invader Nonsense (GIN). Much the same has been said by every war leader and general of every invasion in history. Did Goebbels not argue that Germany was fighting “tyranny” on the Eastern front in 1941? Were Indonesian armed forces not offering a “precious opportunity” to the impoverished people of East Timor in 1975?
Obama next directed his GIN to the people of Iraq:
“Our nations have known difficult times together. But ours is a bond forged by shared bloodshed, and countless friendships among our people. We Americans have offered our most precious resource – our young men and women – to work with you to rebuild what was destroyed by despotism; to root out our common enemies; and to seek peace and prosperity for our children and grandchildren, and for yours.”
The precise moment when the illegal invasion demolishing Iraq - the attack that "should never have been authorised and never been waged" - became a selfless act of friendship in pursuit of peace and prosperity was not identified. Did this happen half-way through 2003? Perhaps early 2004?
America and Iraq have indeed known “difficult times together” - the US has caused them and Iraq has suffered them. The US helped install a vicious dictator, Saddam Hussein, supporting him through his worst crimes, which Western governments and media worked hard to bury out of sight. It then inflicted the devastating 1991 Gulf War and 12 years of genocidal sanctions, which claimed one million Iraqi lives. The 2003 war and invasion have cost a further million lives, have reduced 4 million people to the status of destitute refugees, and reduced a wrecked country to utter ruin.
But Obama’s lies matter little to much of the public, anti-war activists among them. ‘You don’t understand,’ they tell us. ’Obama +has+ to say all this stuff - it’s not what he believes. He‘s out to change all this, but he has to say it.’
This involves a kind of treble-think. Politicians typically hide their ruthlessness behind compassionate verbiage. Obama, we are to believe, is hiding his compassion behind ruthless verbiage - Machiavellianism in reverse.
Which is exactly what was said of Clinton and Blair in the 1990s. Of course it could be the case now. But should we not aim to be a little more socially scientific in our political analysis?