Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The war on schools continues

While U.S. political leaders from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to George W. Bush are busy competing over who can issue the most effusive, over-the-top praise for the Israeli government's brutal collective punishment of the Palestinian people, the Israeli military has once again illustrated its "exemplary" commitment to avoiding civilian casualties (that is, according to respected Council on Foreign Relations fellow Max Boot) by deliberately targeting a school housing hundreds of refugees:
JERUSALEM — The Israeli military struck near a United Nations school in Gaza on Tuesday, killing at least 30 people among hundreds who had sought refuge at the school from the fighting in the beleaguered territory, the United Nations and hospital officials in Gaza said.

The officials said those killed included men, women and children. The Israeli military, in a statement, confirmed it had carried out a mortar attack on the school, saying an initial investigation suggested its forces had responded to mortar fire coming from the school.
Meanwhile, as the carnage in Gaza and the disproportionate response of the Israeli government becomes ever more apparent, Messiah-elect Barack Obama is A.W.O.L., reduced to uttering talking points about there being only one president at a time (a talking point that, peculiarly, doesn't apply to his efforts to "stimulate" the U.S. economy). As Chris Floyd notes, Obama's conspicuous silence is being read by some of his more earnest, "serious" (and deluded) supporters as simply good politics, and perhaps evidence that deep, deep down, he secretly, maybe-kinda opposes the invasion of Gaza -- all evidence to the contrary be damned.

This flight of fancy -- that Obama is some crafty, closet peacenik who will come out of his militaristic cocoon when the clock strikes midnight on January 19th -- is one that continues to pop up among both progressive supporters and conservative detractors of Obama, but it's one that has no grounding in reality. While Obama, to his credit, did indeed oppose the Iraq war, his opposition was always couched in purely pragmatic reasoning, with his 2002 speech against the invasion including several references to his opposition to "dumb wars," but most certainly not to all of them.

During the presidential campaign, meanwhile, Obama openly embraced unilaterally attacking Pakistan -- a nuclear armed "ally" of the United States -- sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan to repeat the "success" of the "surge" in Iraq (the latter which he said had succeeded beyond his "wildest dreams"), and maintaining a significant U.S. presence in Iraq until at least the end of his first term. Furthermore, since the November 4th election Obama has appointed a slew of hawks to key foreign policy positions in his administration, including the potential appointment of Dennis Ross as Special Envoy to Iran (Ross, who presumably would take the lead on talks with Iran, recently backed a startlingly hawkish, establishment-endorsed report that portrayed war with that country as inevitable should it not abandon domestic uranium enrichment, which Iran's leadership almost certainly will never do voluntarily).

Yet despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary, Good Democrats and party-line Republicans continue to act as if Obama is something other than an establishment consensus-seeking politician more interested in maintaining power than in upsetting entrenched interests and political constituencies (an institutional desire not limited, by any means, to Mr. Obama). No doubt a sizable portion of those anti-war liberals awaiting the "real" Obama on inauguration day will be sorely disappointed -- before they slap "Obama/Biden 2012" stickers on their cars and begin clucking about the moral imperative of keeping [*insert nasty old Republican here*] out of the White House.

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