Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama nominates neocon for Chief of Staff

In another signal to the Middle East that Obama may not be all the change he claims to be, the US president-elect has nominated an Israeli-American, Rahm Emanuel, as Chief of Staff.

Emanuel, an Orthodox Jew, was an Israeli Army volunteer during the first Gulf War, while his father Benjamin M. Emanuel was an active member in an underground terrorist cell before the 1948 partition.

For more information on Emanuel's terrorist origins, click here.

American imperialism disguised with a black face and a Muslim name won't bluff the Arab world.

I came across the following comment on SyriaComment. It reflects the wide cynicism felt by many Arabs towards Obama's election.

By Sami D,

Blame Gore for not being able to defeat Bush, (not even in his own state where Nader had no effect), and blame the Democrats in general for becoming Republicans-light. Their policies are little different from the Republicans; like the Labor, Kadima, Likud, they differ mostly in style, but little in substance when it comes to empire/Palestinians. The Republicans say “the war is moral, just give us more time”, the enlightened Democrats say “the war is moral, but might be a mistake since we’re not sure you can win.” (Likud kills Palestinians with glee; Labor kills Palestinians with tears in their eyes). None of them says the Iraq war is an immoral crime of aggression. They both support empire and Israel, competing who will assist Israel in killing and dispossessing more Palestinians and Arabs. The statement above assumes that Gore was going to be really different from Bush, especially with 9-11 taking place on his watch and with his own version of Cheney along his side (remember the neocon warmonger Lieberman?) It is only when they’re unshackled from the strings of office that they dare speak out and act, assuming they have morals, like Gore on the environment and Carter on Israeli apartheid.

It might be wise to vote strategically in swing states, but in all other states a vote for a third party, like the Green, is an important wake up call to the Democrats who have shifted radically right away from their principals, becoming a shadow of the Republicans, and enablers of empire. Nor am I sad that Obama defeated McCain; anything is better than what the Republicans have become, especially the welcome historic symbolism of a black man finally leading America, let alone someone who has befriended Palestinians scholars.

Reducing Nader to consumer report writer belittles his indefatigable campaigns to bring to light, over many decades, the abominations of empire, of corporate controls, of Wall Street dirty dealings, of lack of democracy, of people’s and labor’s deteriorating rights, of environmental destruction, of the deterioration of civil liberties, of energy policies, of the torment of Palestinians. Has the Democratic party really done anything noteworthy on these issues? Instead, people are instructed to vote for the lesser evil, someone who’s beholden to the structures of power, and is funded by the same moneyed interests as evil himself, someone who largely votes the same way as the other party. And here’s none other than Mr Change, coming fresh from handing Paulson almost a cool $trillion of our children’s money, nominating another neocon, Rahm Emanuel for his chief of staff; makes those of us who “wasted their votes” on “the spoilers” third party proud. The only thing Obama might produce for the Middle East would be a Sadat-style, Dennis Ross mediated, “peace”. In short, let’s not raise our hopes too high or expect any radical change from Obama, unless one doesn’t mind getting greatly disappointed.

Another comment by poster Observer:

Since when did anyone think that the US president and the US congress are truly free of the AIPAC influence? It does not matter if it is Rahm Emmanuel or David Plouffe or David Axelrod. I do not believe that there will be a deviation from empire policies. They will have a different outlook and perspective but the pursuit of empire at the expense of the Republic will continue. The question is whether there are any financial possibilities for the empire to be sustained


Mustapha said...

What a catchy title: "Obama names Neocon".

I sometimes wonder how far the term Neocon will stretch, but I fear diminishing returns for the pejorative Arab intellectuals so love to use, especially now that Europeans disaffected with Bush will move on and stop using it.

Did you honestly believe that an American administration will lack people who sympathize with Israel?

In Mr. Obama's eyes, Rahm Emanuel's biggest advantage is a combination of tough partisanship (he's the Democrats' Newt Gingrich) and DOMESTIC strategic thinking (with a focus on healthcare and national service).

Tough luck for us Arabs. He has a "special place in his heart" for Israel. But how that make him a "neocon" is beyond me.

Antoun said...

It is catchy, I couldn't resist, and I borrowed it from a few other cynical comments on the blogosphere.

Perhaps it is a bit excessive when considering neo-conservative thinking embodies a whole variety of issues, including domestic, economic and foreign policies.

Is it possible for a politician to have a liberal take on domestic life, yet become a hawk in the Middle East?

If US politics is anything to go by, it most certainly is possible.

Emanuel probably does not share the same views as the average neocon on how America should be run, but I doubt we will see a great difference between neocon Mid East policy of the last 8 years and that to be proposed by Emanuel.

From an Arab perspective, what difference will it make? What difference will a change in label make when the end result could remain the same?

James (California) said...

What is it with the muslim world and their obsession with Israel. Don't they have enough problems? How about getting out of medeaval times, a little less beheadings and a little more democracy.

You should learn from the U.S. and Israel how democracy works. You see, it is not really the election, it is the fact that the government in power steps down.

Antoun said...

Our obsession with Israel?

Well from a Lebanese perspective, how about one invasion that destroyed our capital city and a number of towns, costing 30,000 innocent lives?

How about massacres committed by Israel and their proxies against our population?

How about the 2006 war in which our entire infrastructure was destroyed by an Israeli campaign that also killed 1,200 Lebanese civilians?

That doesn't include 60 years of brutal occupation and Apartheid against the native Palestinian population.

It's quite easy for you in sunny California to ignore the realities of troubled regions, and see the world through CNN.

But I can assure you the Middle East, and the world beyond California, isn't as simple as CNN or Hollywood would lead you to believe.