Saturday, November 8, 2008

Obama has to pay for eight years of Bush's delusions

He will have to get out of Iraq, and he will have to tell Israel a few home truths

By Robert Fisk

(Cartoon by Emad Hajjaj)

"......Obama has got to close Guantanamo. He's got to find a way of apologising to the world for the crimes of his predecessor, not an easy task for a man who must show pride in his country; but saying sorry is what – internationally – he will have to do if the "change" he has been promoting at home is to have any meaning outside America's borders. He will have to re-think – and deconstruct – the whole "war on terror". He will have to get out of Iraq. He will have to call a halt to America's massive airbases in Iraq, its $600m embassy. He will have to end the blood-caked air strikes we are perpetrating in southern Afghanistan – why, oh, why do we keep slaughtering wedding parties? – and he will have to tell Israel a few home truths: that America can no longer remain uncritical in the face of Israeli army brutality and the colonisation for Jews and Jews only on Arab land. Obama will have to stand up at last to the Israeli lobby (it is, in fact, an Israeli Likud party lobby) and withdraw Bush's 2004 acceptance of Israel's claim to a significant portion of the West Bank. US officials will have to talk to Iranian officials – and Hamas officials, for that matter. Obama will have to end US strikes into Pakistan – and Syria.....

But Obama's not going to be able to make the break. He wants to draw down in Iraq in order to concentrate more firepower in Afghanistan. He's not going to take on the lobby in Washington and he's not going to stop further Jewish colonisation of the occupied territories or talk to Israel's enemies. With AIPAC supporter Rahm Emanuel as his new chief of staff – "our man in the White House", as the Israeli daily Maariv called him this week – Obama will toe the line. And of course, there's the terrible thought that bin Laden – when he's not shopping at US military post offices – may be planning another atrocity to welcome the Obama presidency.

There is just one little problem, though, and that's the "missing" prisoners. Not the victimswho have been (still are being?) tortured in Guantanamo, but the thousands who have simply disappeared into US custody abroad or – with American help – into the prisons of US allies. Some reports speak of 20,000 missing men, most of them Arabs, all of them Muslims. Where are they? Can they be freed now? Or are they dead? If Obama finds that he is inheriting mass graves from George W Bush, there will be a lot of apologising to do."

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