Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"Barack Obama's kettle of hawks" by Jeremy Scahill

Trust a British columnist to dare end the dream of all dreams; nothing seems to be going to change with the US Foreign Policy. Or as Jeremy Scahill calls it, "America First", in his Barack Obama's kettle of hawks;

"The assembly of Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, Susan Rice and Joe Biden is a kettle of hawks with a proven track record of support for the Iraq war, militaristic interventionism, neoliberal economic policies and a worldview consistent with the foreign policy arch that stretches from George HW Bush's time in office to the present.

[snip]

On Iraq, the issue that the Obama campaign described as "the most critical foreign policy judgment of our generation", Biden and Clinton not only supported the invasion, but pushed the Bush administration's propaganda and lies about Iraqi WMDs and fictitious connections to al-Qaida. Clinton and Obama's hawkish, pro-Israel chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, still refuse to renounce their votes in favour of the war. Rice, who claims she opposed the Iraq war, didn't hold elected office and was not confronted with voting for or against it. But she did publicly promote the myth of Iraq's possession of WMDs, saying in the lead up to the war that the "major threat" must "be dealt with forcefully". Rice has also been hawkish on Darfur, calling for "strik[ing] Sudanese airfields, aircraft and other military assets".

It is also deeply telling that, of his own free will, Obama selected President Bush's choice for defence secretary, a man with a very disturbing and lengthy history at the CIA during the cold war, as his own. While General James Jones, Obama's nominee for national security adviser, reportedly opposed the Iraq invasion and is said to have stood up to the neocons in Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, he did not do so publicly when it would have carried weight. Time magazine described him as "the man who led the Marines during the run-up to the war – and failed to publicly criticise the operation's flawed planning". Moreover, Jones, who is a friend of McCain's, has said a timetable for Iraq withdrawal, "would be against our national interest".

[snip]

What ultimately ties Obama's team together is their unified support for the classic US foreign policy recipe: the hidden hand of the free market, backed up by the iron fist of US militarism to defend the America First doctrine.

[snip]

... but neoconservative leader and former McCain campaign staffer Max Boot summed it up best. "I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain," Boot wrote. The appointment of General Jones and the retention of Gates at defence "all but puts an end to the 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the unconditional summits with dictators and other foolishness that once emanated from the Obama campaign."


Steve Benson


Boot added that Hillary Clinton will be a "powerful" voice "for 'neoliberalism' which is not so different in many respects from 'neoconservativism.'" Boot's buddy, Michael Goldfarb, wrote in The Weekly Standard, the official organ of the neoconservative movement, that he sees "certainly nothing that represents a drastic change in how Washington does business. The expectation is that Obama is set to continue the course set by Bush in his second term."

There is not a single, solid anti-war voice in the upper echelons of the Obama foreign policy apparatus. And this is the point: Obama is not going to fundamentally change US foreign policy. He is a status quo Democrat. And that is why the mono-partisan Washington insiders are gushing over Obama's new team. At the same time, it is also disingenuous to act as though Obama is engaging in some epic betrayal."


Yes, I'm back..

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Blogger an average patriot said...

To me the difference is in the Decider but let me show you something from Ben Stain!
Change? To Washington? Ha!

by Ben Stein

Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2008, 12:00AM

The change it had to come
We knew it all along.
We were liberated from the fold, that's all.
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
‘Cause the banners, They are flown in the next war.

I'll tip my hat to the new Constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday.
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again.

This snippet from the greatest of great songs by the Who keeps running through my head as I read about Timothy F. Geithner, chosen to be the new secretary of the Treasury by President-elect Barack Obama. I have studied this song for decades and never has it been more apt.

If it were scientifically possible to create a man who is the exact opposite of "change" in the political and financial realm, which is what I recall Senator Obama talking about during the campaign, it would be Mr. Geithner.

Scion of East Coast eggheads, a Dartmouth graduate, an honor student at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, this is no Che Guevara. Mr. Geithner was a colleague of Henry Kissinger at Kissinger Associates, a toiler at the Council on Foreign Relations and a bureaucrat at the Treasury under Larry Summers and Robert Rubin (of course, of Goldman Sachs). Mr. Geithner even made his Brooklyn-born self into a fly fisherman in the mold of Paul Volcker.

Mr. Geithner appears to be the Eastern establishment finance gentleman and scholar incarnate. A frequent defender of scant financial market regulation, à la Alan Greenspan, Mr. Geithner makes Paul O'Neil and John W. Snow, the first two Treasury secretaries under George W. Bush, look like Lenin and Trotsky.

In no sense does this make Mr. Geithner anything less than a fine man and possibly a superb steward at 15th and Pennsylvania N.W. But it does raise some interesting questions about just what kind of "change" Mr. Obama has in mind in the economic world.

Along with Henry M. Paulson Jr., the current Treasury secretary, Mr. Geithner was part of the decision not to save Lehman Brothers when it fell into crisis two months ago. Yet it now seems that allowing a bank as central as Lehman to fail was the shove that sent the world's financial system over the cliff. The rescue of Citi and the market's reaction tells us a lot about just how important a failure that fiasco with Lehman was.

We could have avoided the whole catastrophe of the last ten weeks if Geithner had had a clue. I wonder if Mr. Geithner would now acknowledge that he made a spectacular mistake. I wonder if he would promise to never even consider allowing a big financial institution to fail, and to do everything conceivable under the Constitution to keep the country from falling into a depression.

From what I read, Mr. Geithner helped fashion the so-called Troubled Asset Relief Program, the bailout program that received $700 billion from a terrified Congress a couple of months ago. Mr. Geithner and Mr. Paulson, as well as Ben S. Bernanke of the Federal Reserve, told the legislators that the money was needed to avoid financial calamity. It would be used to buy troubled assets - that is, loans - from banks and insurers and unclog lending.

After some fits and starts the legislation passed. Then for two months plus the Treasury didn't use a dime of the money for that purpose, after all, but instead bought stock in banks and for other similar purposes. This was a bait and switch of historic proportions. You need only consult bank stock prices to see how well it has worked. Earlier this month, Mr. Paulson declared that he would not buy troubled loans at all. That move battered the bond market and especially the commercial real estate bond and REIT markets.

I have not heard one word from Mr. Geithner repudiating those moves. It would be nice to know his position on them. Maybe his part in rescuing Citi tells us he and Paulson have learned something. That would be nice.

Perhaps while he's at it, Mr. Geithner might explain just what he's been doing as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for the last five years. That job involves vital supervision of key "money center" banks. When did he notice that there were problems in excess leverage involving questionable assets and issues of accountability of hedge funds?

Did he do anything about it? Did he call in the lords of finance and tell them to cut down on leverage, to stop selling credit default swaps they could never pay off in a downdraft, and to act like bankers instead of gamblers? If he did, he kept it pretty quiet, and it didn't have much measurable effect. What's his explanation?

Now step back and ask the basic question: Was he, in his five years at the New York Fed part of the problem or part of the solution? I do not doubt that he worked cooperatively to put liquidity into the system along with Mr. Bernanke. But when the moment of decision for Lehman Brothers came in September, where was he?

And as the clock of destiny is ticking now for the auto makers, and thus for all of us, where is he? Or, to put it even more bluntly, it sure looks as if Mr. Geithner, charming as he may be, is not stepping up to save an economy deeply imperiled by the failures of the current financial ruling class. I have not seen one word from him that shows any marked difference from his boss, Mr. Paulson.

In fact, if it had been possible for George W. Bush to run for and win a third term, wouldn't Mr. Geithner have been exactly whom he would have chosen to replace Henry Paulson if Mr. Paulson ever decided to leave the Treasury? But wait a second. Didn't Mr. Obama campaign against Bush policies? Is he now giving us a third Bush term? Geithner at Treasury, Gates at DOD, Mrs. Clinton at State? Sure looks a lot like what Bush would have chosen if he had been able to run and win.

Not that this is a big surprise: There is a permanent ruling class in this country, whatever they call themselves, no matter how they talk about change. They may not be very good at it, but there they are. "Meet the new boss," as the Who said, "same as the old boss."

2:17 PM  

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