May 1, 2009
The Distant Ocean has this excellent breakdown of what Obama really thinks about the rest of the world and the role of power in it:
“I think it’s important to recognize, given historic suspicions, that the United States’ policy should not be interference in other countries, but that also means that we can’t blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere.”
– Barack Obama speaking at the Summit of the Americas
“Historic suspicions”? Yes, I imagine the International Court of Justice decision condemning the United States for its covert war against Nicaragua might have raised Nicaraguan suspicions of U.S. interference. And I guess the report of the UN’s Historical Clarification Commission for Guatemala, documenting U.S. backing of the genocidal forces the U.S. had installed in the 1954 coup, might have made the Guatemalans suspicious. And I suppose watching U.S. planes, helicopter gunships, and warships destroying the El Chorrillo neighborhood of Panama during the 1989 invasion might have given the Panamians some suspicions about U.S. interference.
(For just one second, imagine the U.S. reaction if Germany’s Angela Merkel gave a speech in Israel calling out the “historic suspicions” of Jews regarding past German “interference” in their affairs. In fairness to Obama, he did subsequently refer to “past errors, where those errors have been made,” though he also said that discussion of these errors only rises to the level of “stale debates” about the past; I’ll leave the analogy to you.)
By contrast, here’s how Obama characterized Venezuela:
You take a country like Venezuela — I have great differences with Hugo Chavez on matters of economic policy and matters of foreign policy. His rhetoric directed at the United States has been inflammatory. There have been instances in which we’ve seen Venezuela interfere with some of the — some of the countries that surround Venezuela in ways that I think are a source of concern.
So centuries of extensively-documented U.S. intervention in Latin America can be dismissed as “historic suspicions”—but when we’re talking about allegations pulled out of the collective ass of the U.S. government and leveled at an official enemy, there’s no longer any need to qualify the interference (which any reasonable person should agree is rightly a “source of concern” to us, though Obama tried to keep this menacing threat in perspective by noting that “Venezuela is a country whose defense budget is probably 1/600th of the United States”).
And this was Obama’s laugh line in response to Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega’s account of just a tiny portion of the vicious U.S. interference that produced these historic suspicions:
“I am very grateful that President Ortega didn’t blame me for things that happened when I was three months old,” Obama said in his only direct reference to the Nicaraguan leader.
(“I am very glad that Prime Minister Netanyahu didn’t blame me for things that happened before I was born,” Merkel said in her only direct reference to the Israeli leader.) The article also notes that Ortega “prompted a smirk from Obama when he referred to ‘Yankee troops.'” Yes, what a hilarious anachronism! How amusing our victims can sometimes be! Like when the U.S.-backed Contras in Nicaragua would cut off men’s testicles and leave them in their mouths? Hey, what’s the matter, cat got your tongue? Oh, no, my mistake, you’ve got a mouthful of balls! Ha ha ha! Maybe Obama should have quipped, “I am very grateful that President Ortega didn’t blame me for the castrations and nun-raping that happened when I was still snorting cocaine in my youth.” The laughs just never stop, do they?
The smirk in question—which, as this small survey of his comments indicates, was only the most visible sign of Obama’s paternalistic contempt for the banana republicans all around him and their petty obsession with the hundreds of thousands of their citizens killed by direct and indirect U.S. intervention over the years—looked something like this:
All of which illustrates why Obama truly is a perfect representative for the U.S.A., since he is, without a doubt, one of the most unbelievably sanctimonious assholes I’ve ever heard.