By Malinda Seneviratne –
Barack Obama, President of the United States of America addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations last week. He made a long and impassioned speech, touching on key global issues but as expected justifying everything that the USA has done and does and making a case for ‘more of the same whether you like it or not’. The man is educated and even called an intellectual. He can talk. He can turn black into white and convince blacks that he’s black and whites that he is white. Such a man can get away with anything if given the opportunity to talk. But what if someone entered the wrong script into the teleprompter? What if Obama is everything he promised to be and not what he turned out to be? What would have been his original script in such a scenario? We can indulge in a bit of harmless, drone-less conspiracy, right?
Mr President, Mr Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen:
Each year we come together to reaffirm the founding vision of this institution. Those who built the United Nations believed it could allow us to resolve conflicts, enforce rules of behavior and build habits of cooperation. Today, looking back, we can say with certainty that the awful carnage of two world wars did not shift our thinking.
For most of recorded history, individual aspirations were subject to the whims of tyrants and empires. Divisions of race and religion and tribe were settled through the sword and the clash of armies. This has not changed in the last 69 years. The idea that nations and peoples could come together in peace to solve their disputes and advance a common prosperity remains unimaginable.
Photo: President Mahinda Rajapaksa attended a reception hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday (Sept. 23) evening in New York City.
Speaking of tyrants and empires, when has my country ever champion the aspirations of individual countries? When did we not act as tyrant and as empire? We should not ask ourselves whether we possess the wisdom and courage as nation-states and members of an international community to meet new and profound challenges. We should ask ourselves wisdom and courage are enough when some of us place greater faith in power and arrogance.
What did you do to put an end to war, someone might inquire regarding my tenure as President of the United States. I can tell you that five years ago, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in harm’s way in Iraq but that now we’ve quit that country. I can tell you that as we ready to end operations in Afghanistan we’ve already dismantled the core of al Qaeda. I can say we’re working diligently to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay. I can tell you that we are targeting those who pose an imminent threat to the United States and that there’s near certainty of no civilian casualties when we use drones. Someone would say, ‘you’ve taken war to another level’. This is true.
First of all, imminent threat to the United States is an easy excuse because it is subjective and unverifiable. We invaded Iraq, after all, to eliminate non-existent weapons of mass destruction. We made the al Qaeda. We made the Islamic State. They were not accidents. They provided excuses to do what all empire-builders do: ‘bombs in – booty out’. The IS, in fact, is helping us do what we always wanted to do in Syria without a by-your-leave from this institution.
So it would be wrong to say that aid cannot keep pace with the suffering of the wounded and displaced. We made sure that there’s enough carnage to make aid ineffective. Well, that’s not exactly true. Aid-ineffectiveness, to us, is ‘collateral’. It’s easy. All we had to do was pick some people, call them moderates, arm them, turn some of them into extremists and then pretend to go after them when in fact all that matters is that they occupy some territory in a country also occupied by people we want to eliminate.
We will say, for example, that Syria used chemical weapons. We don’t have to prove it; when you have power, saying is enough (like weapons of mass destruction – non-existent). We don’t say, you will notice, that Israel used chemical weapons. We won’t say that the USA has used chemical weapons or that we’ve killed more people in more countries than any other country has done over the last 100 years.
My country is chastised for meddling in the region, accused of having a hand in all manner of conspiracy, but it is also blamed for not doing enough to solve the region’s problems. This might seem to be a contradiction but the truth is that the complaints are from people we can call dependents with horrendous track records. Take a poll and the overwhelming majority would say ‘get the hell out!’
Rest assured, ladies and gentlemen, that the USA will use all elements of power including military force to secure our core interests in the Middle East. In other words, we really don’t give a s*** about the general or majority concerns of this assembly. We’ve turned the Middle East upside down politically and called it ‘Arab Spring’. Gumption? Yes. That’s the privilege of the arrogant who have the power to name and misname things, people and even countries.
The danger for the world is that the United States may disengage from all this and thereby create a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill. I am not kidding you here. The ‘danger’ here is not to the world but to the USA. But think about it, if it is about a single nation calling the shots, why should we gather here and talk as though it’s a one country one vote institution?
Today we tell the world that without unsanctioned action (we added the label ‘international’ for reasons of courtesy) Libya would now be engulfed in civil war and bloodshed, never mind the fact that Libya IS engulfed in all that.
I know what side of history I want the United States to be on. I know where we stand. You might think we are embarrassed but we are not. Sorry.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com