Obama-Chavez handshake is a mixed bag of bones

27 Jun

Emperor Obama, although no ally to the long, underappreciated, and witch-hunted American peace movement, is establishing himself as a decent statesman and diplomat, at least compared to his predecessor, King George II. His recent trips across the globe provide a bit of sobriety to opponents of the American Empire.

Obama shook hands with Hugo Chavez, the demonized Venezuelan leader, and U.S.-Venezuela relations are beginning to warm. There are even rumors of both countries sending ambassadors to each other, an essential step in the development of peaceful diplomacy and trade (especially since Venezuela provides the U.S. with ten percent of its oil). Obama also appeared to pay at least some lip service of regret about the decades of utter brutality committed, funded, or supported by the U.S. This is all very surprising and welcome news, and Obama should be commended for the sheathing of the America’s “big stick” in how it conducts its foreign affairs.

As hard as it is for an advocate of peace, free markets, small government, and sound money to like anything about our current occupant of the Imperial Throne, I can’t help but be entertained by Republican critics of Obama’s visits and posture. Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, had this to say:

‘Everywhere in Latin America, enemies of America are going to use the picture of Chavez smiling and meeting with the president as proof that Chavez is now legitimate, that he’s acceptable,’ he told NBC’s “Today” Show.

Senator John Ensign (R-NV) called Obama’s visit with Chavez, “irresponsible,” and even Dick Cheney, in his typical Machiavellian lizard-tongue, protested. One must wonder what ran through the Republicans’ mind when Sen. John McCain publicly hugged Vietnamese Senior Colonel, interrogator/torturer, Bui Tin, when Donald Rumsfeld shook hands with Saddam Hussein, when Nixon toasted Mao, or when Dubya strolled hand-in-hand with Saudi criminals on the White House lawn.

Leaving aside the Republicans’ hypocrisy, is Obama’s olive branch gesture a sign of things to come? I am not optimistic. His visits may be his way of throwing a bone to his anti-war supporters, but his expansion of the wars in Afghanistan and Western Pakistan would make even the cruelest Roman Emperors blush. Obama closed the Gitmo Gulag with an Executive Order, and with a few more strokes of the pen could end America’s expensive empire that reaches all corners of the globe, stop torture, and close the less infamous, but just as draconian, gulag in Bagram, Afghanistan. He won’t, however, for the simple reason that emperors never voluntarily give up their power. Ever.

Obama’s tour across the globe is definitely positive news, but it is sadly drowned out amongst the daily and merciless bombing of Middle Eastern cities. Obama, throw us more than a bone, throw us the whole ugly skeleton of the American Empire.

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