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Saturday, October 10, 2009


Dramatic break?

Newspapers and pundits frequently refer to how President Obama represents a "dramatic break" from the Bush Administration; the chairman of the Nobel Prize committee talked about the "deep changes that are taking place" under Obama.

These people must live in a different world than I do. Iraq? A few troops have been pulled out so far, fewer than Obama seemed to promise, and exactly what Bush claimed he was planning to do. Afghanistan? More troops have already been sent there under Obama, which again was already in the planning stage under Bush. Guantanamo? Obama says he wants to close it, but so did Bush. Actual steps towards closing it? Essentially identical under the two. Palestine? Bush did nothing to stop the Israeli assault on Gaza just before Obama took office, and Obama not only hasn't done anything since to remedy the crime (by, for example, breaking the blockade and allowing Gaza to rebuild), and has even gone so far as to protect Israel from the damning Goldstone report. Settlement building continues apace with the U.S. doing nothing to stop it. Dramatic change, or more of exactly the same? Wiretapping? Still going on. Torture? Obama says its been banned, but then again Bush said it never happened. There's certainly been no change for the thousands of prisoners held by the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan, and secret sites all over the world, who undergo the daily torture of indefinite imprisonment without charges, without rights, without hope.

I saw a claim somewhere that Obama has renounced the Bush doctrine of preemptive war. He's done no such thing, and we're still in a situation where "all options are on the table" with respect to Iran.

Some mild changes have been made in Cuba policy, all, by the way, made with an eye towards hopefully subverting Cuba and bringing down the revolution, none because they were the right thing to do or out of respect for the human rights of Cubans. A "dramatic break" on Cuba policy would involve freeing the Cuban Five, ending the blockade, ending the occupation of Cuban soil at Guantanamo, and ceasing the hostile rhetoric of the U.S. towards Cuba. I eagerly await such a "dramatic break," or indeed, any one of those things.

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