In Buenos Aires March 24, President Obama expressed regret for U.S. complicity in the Argentine military's 'dirty war' of 1976-83, promising to declassify U.S. documents shedding more light on the U.S.'s shameful support of dictatorship and murder there.
The U.S. "has to examine its own policies and its own past," Obama allowed. "We cannot forget the past, but when we find the courage to confront and we find the courage to change that past (sic), that's when we build a better future."http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/world/americas/obama-argentina-dirty-war.html?_r=0
It's wonderful that Obama spoke to Argentinians this way.
But the true value of an apology is in what the wrongdoer does when confronted with similar situations again.
In Argentina where it no longer matters, Obama pays retroactive lip service to democracy. But ask people today across the Middle East - in Egypt for example, or Yemen, or Saudi Arabia, Gaza and the West Bank, or for that matter Syria - if the U.S. supports democracy and self-determination.
We are doing similarly today in the Middle East, where the chips are down, as we did yesterday in Latin America: Standing resolutely for dictatorship and occupation.
When it comes to the Middle East, democracy, self-determination and human rights are not just forgotten, they are buried, not temporarily, tactically, briefly, for some limited urgent purpose, but for generations. Our military, financial and moral support has been decisive in helping suppress movements for democracy and self-determination one after the other across the region.
In our defining moment in Egypt in 2013, Obama - the first U.S. President to win the Nobel Peace Prize for showing up - sent the State Department's number two man to Cairo after the military coup there to say the U.S. would not "take sides" between the democratically elected government and the thugs who overthrew it, massacring and imprisoning its supporters.
This was four years after Obama's famous speech to the Muslim world in that city, later credited with inspiring the Arab Spring of which he has since helped make a mockery. He soon restored our full $1.5 billion annual aid to the military usurpers and continues to violate US law forbidding such aid to governments overthrowing elected regimes.
We've unbelievably continued for a year to aid our 'great friend' Saudi Arabia, a primitive and brutal dictatorship if there ever was one, in slaughtering thousands of Yemeni civilians as the Saudis try to defeat the native Yemeni Houthis, a rebel faction whose crime is being Shia Muslims and so a presumptive proxy for Iran. Most of our other Gulf state 'friends' of course are similar dictatorships run by wealthy families that share their countries with foreign oil companies.
In Israel, Obama for seven years relentlessly paid feeble lip service to a two-state solution while recently moving to, yes, expand! our largest aid package in the world to the Israeli military, defraying its costs of respectively occupying and blockading five million Arabs in their two enclaves while condemning the "terrorism" of those who resist 50 years of Occupation.
Freedom fighters are great until they fight us or our 'great friends.' Then they become terrorists.
The disease of the Middle East is terrible governance that inspires lunatic resistance movements. Targeting ISIS rather than those governments is ignoring the disease and treating a symptom.
Suppose we decided our 'great friends' in the Middle East should rather be the tens of millions yearning for opportunity and freedom who we've largely abandoned. That those are the people we should be concerned with having on our side.
What was the promise of America to the world for over two centuries?
Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
For Obama and his team, regrettably like many US governments past, this nice thought is useful for indoctrinating schoolchildren but apparently applies in a binding way only to North Americans and Europeans.
As a governing principle of US policy, it's long been superseded by: "Don't do stupid shit."
Our money and arms speak louder than any words can, reassuring dictators and occupiers beyond words no matter what the rhetoric, that we are squarely and irrevocably on their side - just as we were for Latin America's dictators.
Obama acknowledges "there are times when our security interests conflict with our concerns about human rights," as if human rights has nothing to do with security, and not addressing why these 'times' seem to be always and forever.
Nothing better recruits for the 'enemies' of the U.S. in the Middle East than the amoral imperial chessboard U.S. foreign policy strategy our faux-'progressive' government perpetuates.
What does it say to young people growing up in the Middle East - and the hundreds of millions or billions of other struggling people who once looked (and often still do) to America as a beacon of freedom - but who instead conclude "a plague on all your houses," when they see what America does in practice when it affects them?
Our 'great friends,' the Saudi regime and its little brothers, the Egyptian dictatorship and the Israeli occupation are collectively probably second only to Syria today as incubators of what we call terrorism.
How is this in our long-term 'security interests' again?
What's the world like when all our highest values are completely expendable? We've got it.
Obama himself, in his first major speech on foreign policy at a 2002 Chicago anti-war rally, called on then-President Bush to get our "so-called allies" (Egypt and Saudi Arabia) to "stop oppressing their own people."http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/ Isn't that ironic?
Where ever is that individual now?