Empire burlesque, April 2, 2011
The blood and thunder (or is it thud and blunder?) of the American-led intervention in Libya has obscured one of the more revealing episodes of our times -- especially for those many millions who still cling to the idea that Barack Obama is somehow an improvement, however slight, over the ruthless, lawless, corroded souls who preceded him in the post of imperial manager.
We speak of course of the American rigging of the election in battered, helpless Haiti -- a brazen effort to disenfranchise the majority of the population and ensure the election of a vicious -- but acquiescent -- client to the presidency. This sordid episode comes complete with a personal intervention by the Nobel Peace Laureate himself to try to continue the exile and persecution of the democratically elected Haitian president overthrown by George W. Bush in a brutal coup.
Even as he was scheming with the CIA to put covert American "boots on the ground" in the Libyan civil war, Obama and his dream team have been maneuvering like mad to put one of a pair of right-wing fanatics into office in Haiti while excluding any other candidates from the running -- including those from Haiti's biggest political party. Obama also personally called South African President Jacob Zuma to ask to keep holding Bush-ousted former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Africa and prevent him from returning to his native land before the election.
With the sublime hypocrisy that has become the hallmark of this most mendacious militarist administration, an Obama spokesman said the Peace Laureate opposed Aristide's return due to "deep concerns that President Aristide's return to Haiti in the closing days of the election could be destabilising," adding that the defender of freedom and democracy believes "that the Haitian people deserve the chance to choose their government through peaceful, free and fair elections."
Even from Team Obama, this is pretty rich. After blocking the largest political party from running, then forcing a run-off between two former supporters of vicious coups, Obama said he didn't want Haiti's democratically elected former leader to return to the homeland he was trundled from at gunpoint by Bushist goons in order to give the Haitian people "a free, fair election."
The result has been a record-low turnout and run-off so riddled with corruption that it may be weeks before one of America's hand-picked stooges is declared the winner. Meanwhile, Aristide did return -- Zuma told Obama plainly that Astride was a free man, he had a passport from his home country, and "I cannot hold him hostage." He did not interfere with the election, he endorsed no candidate. Most of his supporter simply boycotted the election, because of its blatant illegitimacy.
So this is what Barack Obama and his partner in imperialism, the globe-trotting Hillary Clinton, have been up to on the side while they are killing children in Libya and bluntly declaring to Congress that Obama will not acknowledge any restriction on his imperial will to wage war where whenever and wherever he damn well pleases. As John Caruso notes in a blistering post:
In an episode that makes the importance of democracy subversion in Haiti eminently clear, even while the popular uprising in Egypt was peaking, our Secretary of State was dispatched to Haiti to ensure that Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly advanced to the presidential runoff election rather than Jude Celestin (she flew there literally right after she'd finished putting out the administration's Egypt spin on the Sunday morning talk shows). So just who is this U.S. favorite?
Seven months after his inauguration, President Aristide was overthrown by a US-backed neo-Duvalierist military putsch on 30 September 1991. "Sweet Micky" was one of the principal cheerleaders of this three-year coup, which claimed some 5,000 lives, according to Amnesty International.
In the years following Aristide's restoration to power in 1994, Martelly became obsessed with hatred for the man. In a video from not too long ago, which can be seen on YouTube, the candidate threatens a patron in a bar where he has performed. "All those shits were Aristide's faggots," he says. "I would kill Aristide to stick a dick up your ass."
You can certainly see why Clinton made the trip. And if the Obama administration doesn't manage to get this homicidal homophobic Duvalierist into power, they'll still end up with the Secretary General of the right-wing RDNP party (and wife of a former right-wing "president" of Haiti). Win-win!
...As I've written before, anyone who feared that our first black president might not be sympathetic to the need to smash the democratic aspirations of the first free black nation in the hemisphere can rest assured: Obama will never let race—or anything else—stop him from doing the empire's dirty work.
No, indeed. Doing the empire's dirty work is the Obama Administration's raison d'etre. Caruso helpfully points us to this incandescent post by Linh Dinh:
As firemen and cops are being fired across America, as teachers are being told they must accept austerity measures, the country is broke, after all, as public radio and television, with their supposed liberal bias, lay on the chopping block, as more homeless sprawl and tent cities spring up, as casinos, a sure sign of desperation, mushroom, the United States has entered another costly war without any fanfare or discussion whatsoever. Obama didn’t have to persuade anybody, no sending a Secretary of State to make a fool of herself in front of the United Nations’ General Assembly, no congressional vote, which, last time I checked, was supposed to be a Constitutional requirement, no media blitz. No lies even. He simply ordered more than a hundred Tomahawk missiles, so far, to rain down on Libya, with many more to come. In any case, this it not even a war, but merely a "kinetic military action," according to an Obama aide. Such straight faced butchery of language, even as one butchers real people, shows that the United States has entered a deep psychotic state. Upon winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama himself declared, "I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence." ...
The President of the United States is a traveling salesman for the military industrial complex. In 2010, Obama came to India to visit the Mumbai home of Gandhi, a hero of his, someone he would most like to dine with, very touching, before announcing a mega arms deal of GE fighter jet engines and Boeing military transport planes. Now, as he bombs Libya, Obama tries to sell F-18 fighter planes to Brazil. According to an aide, "President Obama underscored that the F-18 is the best plane on offer" as he made a "strong pitch" to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
The President of the United States is also a spokesman for murderers and crooks. He doesn’t rule, but obeys. His main job is to deceive the masses as he serves his enablers. He can say anything at any time, and means none of it. The President of the United States is the world’s most visible actor, in short. Campaigning in 2007, Obama said, "If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States." Quite a performance. This year, as Wisconsin teachers fight to retain their right to collectively bargain, Obama has said absolutely nothing. One would have to be a fool to think he would join them. ...
As Obama fizzles out, as he loses legitimacy, the power brokers will come up with other figureheads and slogans for American liberals and conservatives to become passionate about. These candidates will jabber, jab and insult each other. As in professional wrestling, the battle will appear fierce. Barack, meanwhile, can look forward to a lucrative memoir and six-figure speaking fees. Even that man of malapropisms and snafus, the much despised Bush, is getting $150,000 each time he opens his mouth these days.
In any case, the latest draconian farce in Haiti is only par for a savage course that Obama and Clinton have been carrying out from the get-go, standing on the shoulders of that giant statesman, Dubya. As I noted here almost two years ago (again following in Caruso's footsteps):
Haiti has been a cursed nation throughout its existence. As I noted in a piece in 2004:
Exactly two hundred years ago, Haitian slaves overthrew their French masters -- the first successful national slave revolt in history. What Spartacus dreamed of doing, the Haitian slaves actually accomplished. It was a tremendous achievement -- and the white West has never forgiven them for it.
In order to win international recognition for their new country, Haiti was forced to pay "reparations" to the slaveowners - a crushing burden of debt they were still paying off at the end of the 19th century. The United States, which refused to recognize the country for more than 60 years, invaded Haiti in 1915, primarily to open it up to "foreign ownership of local concerns." After 19 years of occupation, the Americans backed a series of bloodthirsty dictatorships to protect these "foreign owners." And still it goes on.
It certainly does -- even under the "enlightened" foreign policy of Barack Obama. As John Caruso reports (in separate pieces in A Distant Ocean and A Tiny Revolution), Obama and his "superstar" secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, are loudly championing the latest egregious, brutal farce that Washington and the West have foisted upon the uppity natives of Haiti.
Senatorial elections held this month by the government imposed on Haiti after the U.S.-backed coup of 2004 (more on this below) produced a turnout of less than 10 percent of eligible voters: a result that mocks any notion of a popular, legitimate democracy. But this is not because the Haitians are so lazy and disinterested that they couldn't be bothered to vote. Nor that they are so satisfied with the benevolent, paternal care of their American-appointed masters that they saw no need to let silly electoral contests trouble their bucolic life.
No, the 90 percent refusal rate was in fact a massive protest action, driven chiefly by the fact that the American-backed government would not allow the most popular party -- the party of the government ousted by the 2004 coup -- to run a slate of candidates in the election. By clerkly hook and bureaucratic crook, Haiti's election overseers banned the Fanmi Lavalas slate back in February. At that moment, the April elections became a dead letter, a meaningless farce -- yet another cruel joke played on the people of Haiti.
Another April, another joke -- and a third century of imperial revenge goes on.
NOTE: For more background, especially on the 2004 coup that led to the current crisis, see "Operation Continuing Sweatshop." Below is an excerpt:
This week, the Bush administration added another violent "regime change" notch to its gunbelt, toppling the democratically elected president of Haiti and replacing him with an unelected gang of convicted killers, death squad leaders, militarists, narcoterrorists, CIA operatives, hereditary elitists and corporate predators - a bit like Team Bush itself, in other words.
Although the Haiti coup was widely portrayed as an irresistible upsurge of popular discontent, it was of course the result of years of hard work by Bush's dedicated corrupters of democracy, as William Bowles of Information Clearinghouse reports. Bushist bagmen funded the political opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, smuggled guns to exiled Haitian warlords, and carried out a relentless strangulation of the county, cutting off long-promised financial and structural aid to one of the poorest nations on earth until food prices were soaring, unemployment spiked to 70 percent, and the broken-backed government lost control of society to armed gangs of criminals, fanatics and the merely desperate.
Meanwhile, Haiti was forced to pay $2 million a month on debts run up by the murderous U.S.-backed dictatorships that had ruled the island since the American military occupation of 1915-1934. The Haitian press, controlled by cronies of the former dictators, supplied the lazy American media with reams of stories about Aristide's "tyranny." These were swiftly followed by thunderous denunciations from the Bush Regime. Wholesale murders of government officials and Aristide partisans by Bush-backed opposition gangs were, of course, demurely ignored -- as were Aristide's own condemnations of violence by his supporters. The old reliable "madman" trope was also brought out for an airing, with constant press drumbeats about Aristide's "mental instability." (America's designated targets are always "deranged monsters," although sometimes, when they prove politically useful again, they miraculously recover their wits, like Libya's Moamar Gadafy.)
[Note 2001: Although, as we can see today, our good reformed monsters always relapse -- when it suits the imperial agenda.]
[Aristide's] real crime, of course, was not the Florida-style election follies or the reported "tyranny." ... No, Aristide did something far worse than stuffing ballots or killing people -- he tried to raise the minimum wage, to the princely sum of two dollars a day. This move outraged the American corporations -- and their local lackeys -- who have for generations used Haiti as a pool of dirt-cheap labor and sky-high profits. It was the last straw for the elitist factions, one of which is actually led by an American citizen and former Reagan-Bush appointee, manufacturing tycoon Andy Apaid.
Apaid was the point man for the rapacious Reagan-Bush "market reform" drive in Haiti. Of course, "reform," in the degraded jargon of the privateers, means exposing even the very means of survival and sustenance to the ravages of powerful corporate interests. For example, the Reagan-Bush plan forced Haiti to lift import tariffs on rice, which had long been a locally-grown staple. Then they flooded Haiti with heavily subsidized American rice, destroying the local market and throwing thousands of self-sufficient farmers out of work. With a now-captive market, the American companies jacked up their prices, spreading ruin and hunger throughout Haitian society.
The jobless farmers provided new fodder for the factories of Apaid and his cronies. Reagan and Bush chipped in by abolishing taxes for American corporations who set up Haitian sweatshops. The result was a precipitous drop in wages -- and life expectancy. Aristide's first election in 1990 threatened these cozy arrangements, so he was duly ejected by a military coup, with Bush I's not-so-tacit connivance.
Bill Clinton restored Aristide to office in 1994 -- but only after forcing him to agree to, yes, "market reforms." In fact, it was Clinton, the privateers' pal, who instigated the post-election aid embargo that Bush II used to such devastating effect. Aristide's chief failing as a leader was his attempt to live up to this bipartisan blackmail. As in every other nation that's come under the IMF whip, Haiti's already-fragile economy collapsed. Bush family retainers like Apaid then shoved the country into total chaos, making it easy prey for the warlords whom Bush operatives -- many of them old Iran-Contra hands -- supplied with arms through the Dominican Republic, the Boston Globe reports.
When Aristide called for an international force to stem the terrorist attack, Bush refused. When Aristide agreed to a deal, brokered by his fellow leaders in the Caribbean, that would have effectively ceded power to the Bush-funded opposition but at least preserved the lineaments of Haitian democracy -- Apaid and the boys turned down the offer, with the blessing of their paymasters in Washington, who suddenly claimed they had no influence over their recalcitrant hired hands. When Aristide asked for American protection as the rebel gang closed in on the capital, Bush refused.
Instead, Aristide was told by armed American gunmen that if he didn't resign, he would be left to die at the hands of the rebels. Then he was bundled onto a waiting plane and dumped in the middle of Africa. Within hours, the Bush-backed terrorists were marching openly through Port-au-Prince, executing Aristide's supporters.
Guess they won't be asking for two dollars a day now, eh? Mission accomplished!
This policy is what the Nobel Peace Laureate -- the first African-American president in history -- is now perpetuating in the only nation to liberate itself from slavery. But of course, the most important thing is not the dispossessed in Haiti, nor the innocent people in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan being killed, day after day, by the Laureate's bombs, bullets and assassins. No, the main thing is -- he's not John McCain! And we must put aside these trifles, these heaps of corpses, and rally around the prez to "defend our gains and regroup for a progressive counter-offensive in 2012!" The best is yet to come!