Friday, February 22, 2008

News of the Day and the Obama-Clinton Debate

by Norman Markowitz

I thought that I would mention a few points from the news that show both the absurdity of where the Bush administration has led us, building upon a generation of retreat and surrender in the face of political reaction.

Turkey has invaded the Kurdish regions of Northern Iraq again to attack fighters of the Kurdistan Workers party, which fights for a Kurdish state in Kurdish areas of Turkey, where Kurdish people have been a long oppressed minority, as they have also been in Iraq and Iran. The European Union, which is no friend of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) issued a statement criticizing these actions, stating that the "territorial integrity of Iraq is important to us."

But the territorial integrity of Iraq means very little to the Bush administration whose army is occupying the country. The Turkish Prime Minister contacted Bush before the attack. The two governments have been cooperating against the PKK for months, even though the Kurdish minority is really the only group in Iraq which supports the U.S. position, and even though some are probably remember that Saddam Hussein, who did use poison gas against Kurdish people, let 70,000 Turkish troops invade Kurdish regions of Iraq in 1992, soon after he survived the first Gulf War, to do his dirty work for him.

What exists in Iraq is increasingly a classic colonial situation in which U.S. policy is play pawn against pawn,either carve up Iraq or keep it together, which can change depending on its larger geo-political aims, which reflect its interests in controlling the oil of the region and keeping other states from competing with it for that oil.

Speaking about classic colonialism, Kosovo, an Albanian majority region of the Republic of Serbia, has declared its "Independence" from Serbia, the remnant of what was once the Yugoslav federation of Socialist Republics and many thousands of angry Serbian people have protested, doing damage to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, since the U.S. was the prime mover under Bill Clinton in the NATO intervention in the Yugoslav Civil War of the 1990s.

The destruction of Yugoslavia followed the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. The NATO military, created initially to fight a European World War III against the Soviet Union, was used to intervene in a Civil War on the side of the separatists in Croatia and later Bosnia, Yugoslav Republics, and finally Kosovo, which was a region of Serbia, and to demonize the Serbian people who fought to sustain a Yugoslav state.

Dividing up or "Balkanizing" the Balkans is also a blast from the colonial past, where the great powers divided up the Balkans and used pawns to advance their aims in the region in a famous settlement in the 1870s to "stabilize" their rivalries in Europe as they moved forward to carve up Africa and other regions in the name of "civilization and progress" which U.S. imperialists today call "democracy" as they play pawn against pawn and carve up nations and regions in order to facilitate their exploitation.

As for the debate, particularly on international relations, Senator Obama appears to me to be getting better and Senator Clinton appears to be stuck in a rut. Obama expressed clearer sympathy as I saw it for undocumented workers and Clinton, who has voted for the same Bush supported legislation to "secure" the U.S. border that Obama has.

Clinton criticized the Bush administration for going overboard in its border policies to enforce the legislation. Clearly, Latino voters, who have supported Clinton in earlier primaries, perhaps because of Obama's record on this issue, should understand Clinton's voting record is in no way better than Obama's, and Obama is, in response to his progressive mass constituency, beginning to focus on class or what the press likes to call "populist" issues, which unites Latino, African-American, and white working people.

On the leadership transition in Cuba, Obama, who was criticized justly by a a reader responding to our blog for joining the hypocritical anti-Cuban chorus of U.S. politicians responding to Fidel Castro's resignation, said he would meet with Cuba without preconditions, while making the ritualistic statements that all politicians make all the time about the lack "human rights" and "democracy" in Cuba. Clinton took a position to the right of Obama, saying in effect that she would meet with the Cuban leadership only after they had instituted changes, implying to me that Obama might be, to use the old cold war language that Clinton grew up with in a conservative Republican family, "soft" on the Cubans.

Clinton also showed the limited substance and increasing sense of desperation of her campaign by criticizing Obama for "plagiarizing" from the Governor of Massachusetts, a co-chair of his presidential campaign, who suggested that he use the words that Clinton called plagiarism. Obama laughed this off, as Franklin Roosevelt once famously laughed off Republican attacks that he had sent destroyer at tax payers expense to pick up his dog Fala. In its own way, it is as silly a charge.

As someone who has taught for thirty six and a half years at Rutgers University, I have had a great deal of experience with students who take materials from sources without authorization or proper citation, often because they don't really understand proper citation, sometimes because they are deliberately plagiarizing rather than doing their own work. Anyone who would even suggest that this is "plagiarism" deserves no serious answer.

Obama has frankly, in my opinion, shown far more analytical depth in addressing issues than Clinton, and this was once more on display in the debate.

While powerful forces are still backing Clinton and Obama faces a large hurdle in the upcoming Texas primary particularly, this debate is further evidence that he is the candidate of unity, progress, and victory in 2008.


Anonymous said...

Analytical depth, you say. All I hear about is "Change" and "Hope." Times and conditions change and if you want hope, got to church. When Jimmy Carter's church refused to integrate he left it. Obama, on the other remained with a church whose pastor lavished praise on Luis Farrakhan and was on the platform with a leading gay basher and said nothing and did nothing and stayed in the church. I have concluded that in American politics not even the phonies are on the level.

Anonymous said...

Obama has a strong record on equality for LGBT people. Come on.