Monday, June 08, 2009

Style over substance

President Barack Obama is nearly doubling the U.S. occupation force in Afghanistan, is ramping up unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan that have killed 50 civilians for every one "Taliban", and is continuing the grand U.S. tradition of cozying up to despots and distorting the intelligence concerning Iran's nuclear program. At the same time, he is actively covering up torture and other war crimes committed by his predessor while proposing a program of indefinite imprisonment for those deemed threats to the state. But according to The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss, Obama has through his speech in Cairo "turned the corner on the post-9/11 nightmare." No, really:
I want emphasize one thing today: that by not mentioning "terror" or "terrorism" in his 55-minute address, Obama has formally turned the corner on the post-9/11 nightmare conjured by by President Bush and his ilk. If Obama sustains this, it has enormous potential not only to improve US relations with the Muslim world. It will utterly alter the discourse inside the United States, which for nearly eight long years has been distorted by the fear-mongering, Muslim-bashing, Osama-inflating, homeland security-worrying neoconservatives and their political allies.
That is, while Obama's continuing much of the same policies toward the Middle East, he's no longer talking about it -- at least not in the strident terms favored by neoconservatives -- so all is well. To be fair, Dreyfuss does say that after the Cairo speech "comes the test of Obama's sincerity." However, I'd suggest the test of Obama's desire to fundamentally alter U.S. policy toward the region took place soon after he took office.

While disappointing, the liberal tendency to elevate lofty rhetoric and speechifying over the actual substance of the policies their progressive leaders are implementing continues to amaze.

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