US President Barack Obama is someone to almost pity. For he has the unenviable task of standing before the nations of the world and smugly spout endless falsehoods — as he did, yet again, during his address to the UN General Assembly.
By contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin in his address to the UN may not have displayed the same oratorical flourishes as Obama, but far more importantly Putin spoke about some of the most pressing international problems with words that were the plain truth.
When Putin spoke about the UN and international law being undermined by “exceptional” unilateral actions of the United States, he was able to put his finger on the crux of why conflict, chaos and terrorism are raging in so many parts of the world.
And if we are trying to fix these problems, genuinely, then what the world needs is an accurate diagnosis. Putin delivered that, while Obama just added further layers of obfuscation and misinformation, making such problems ever-more insoluble.
As Putin clearly indicated, illegal US-led regime-change operations that subvert international law and the UN Charter are at the root of ongoing, widespread conflicts, from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Libya to Syria and to Ukraine.
These clandestine American-led interventions have also fuelled the explosion in terror networks across the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Putin provided the most logical, rational and credible explanation that allows for collective solutions. Supporting the sovereign government of Syria to defeat foreign-backed terrorism in that country is one such solution.
Yet amid this American legacy of international violence, Obama was charged with painting a rose-tinted view of the world that was breath-taking in its distortion and absurdity.
On Syria, the American president sought to ascribe the violence and growth of terrorism in that country as being due to “tyrannical”
Bashar al-Assad who “attacked peaceful protesters” back in 2011. This falsification by Obama flies in the face of admissions by Washington — in declassified documents — that it hatched secret plans for regime change in Syria as early as 2006.
The Pentagon has also admitted in declassified documents that it sponsored jihadist extremists like Islamic State to wage war against the Assad government for the “wilful” objective of regime change. In both instances, the US government indicts itself of heinous crimes.
Nevertheless, Obama blithely regaled the UN with claims that his government is “supporting the steady emergence of strong democracies accountable to their people instead of any foreign power” — while, unbelievably, ignoring the long and execrable history of American-sponsored regime change in every corner of the globe.
This American criminal expertise in violating international law and democratic rights of nations spans at least a century. During the early 20th century decades, Major General Smedley Butler in his book, ‘War is a Racket’, described how the Pentagon’s military muscle was used to ransack Latin America and the Caribbean to install despotic regimes in order to make the hemisphere “safe” for Wall Street banks and US corporations.
Then following the Second World War, the US ruling class applied their regime-change dexterity in every continent over the subsequent seven decades up to the present day. From the early postwar European states of Greece, Italy and France where nationalist or socialist governments were thwarted or subverted, right up to the most recent cases of Libya, Syria and Ukraine.
In between, we have the notorious cases of US subversion and coups in Guatemala, Iran, Cuba, Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Nicaragua, Honduras — to mention just a few. For a complete list of scores of American dirty operations across the world, see William Blum’s book ‘Killing Hope’.
Obama describes US involvement in Libya in 2011 as “helping to prevent a massacre”; and he claims Washington is helping to resolve conflict in Syria and supporting democracy in Ukraine. But in each case, as in countless other countries down through the decades, Washington’s finger-prints are all over the crime scenes and point to its illegal schemes for overthrowing governments and “deterring democracy”, as Noam Chomsky puts it.
But perhaps the ultimate regime change that American rulers engaged in was not against some far off African, Asian or Latin American land.
The most audacious act of criminality was against one of their own democratically elected governments.
In 1963, the brutal assassination of President John F Kennedy as he drove through Dallas in a motorcade was unmistakably a covert regime-change operation. The slaying of Kennedy happened only three weeks after US intelligence were implicated in the murder of Washington’s puppet-dictator in South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem.
Kennedy, whose policies were viewed as being anti-war and amenable to mediation with the Soviet Union and revolutionary Cuba, had made powerful enemies within the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon’s military-industrial complex. The sophistication and political context of Kennedy’s assassination, the vast official cover-up, including the murder of the alleged assassin, the patsy Lee Harvey Oswald, all point to a covert operation to get rid off the president.
American corporate-controlled news media to this day treat the subject of who really killed Kennedy as an off-limits “conspiracy theory”. But reading an array of investigative literature, such as James Douglass’
‘JFK and the Unspeakable’, as well as testimony of attorney, the late Jim Garrison, it is scarcely disputable that President Kennedy was assassinated by powerful and secretive elements within the American ruling class.
The objective was to replace Kennedy with a president who would be more obedient to the strategic interests of the American military-industrial complex. Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B Johnson, was such a figure, paving the way for the escalation of the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s and heightened hostilities towards the Soviet Union and Cuba, including numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro.
Returning to the UN address delivered by Barack Obama this week, at one point he bragged: “I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.”
This is the kind of unquestioning militarism and use of unilateral military force that America’s ruling class expects from White House occupants. Breaking international law, violating the UN Charter and implementing regime change — no matter how murderous — and then spouting lies with squeaky clean rhetoric, these are the qualifications that an American president must demonstrate to the dark, ruling forces within his country.
Otherwise, the fate of an independent, democratic leader would be the same as that of JFK. For regime change, and all its attendant criminality, is as American as mama’s homemade apple pie.
By Finian Cunningham
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