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Black Agenda Report

Imperial President Obama Pretends Not to Wage War

President Obama’s contention that the United States is not engaged in “hostilities,” much less war, against the sovereign state of Libya shows him to be fully as sick and arrogant an imperial misanthrope as his historical predecessors on both sides of the Atlantic. America’s First Black President is wholly compatible with the old-school imperialists of Europe, now reborn and rejuvenated through NATO as the unchallenged masters of Africa. Ten thousand sorties of Shock and Awe scream that Euro-American rule is returning to Libya – but not, of course, by means of war. Oh, no, this is a case of “humanitarian intervention,” and not hostile in the least. Call it brotherly love – yeah, that’s the ticket. But don’t call it war.

Over the five centuries since the Western Europeans broke out of their small corner of the planet, to wage uninterrupted wars of conquest and enslavement against the rest of mankind, they have seldom acknowledged being at war with “lesser peoples.” Rather, the merciless looting and depopulation of the America’s and Africa was packaged as a Christianizing or “civilizing” mission – but seldom as wars. The half a millennium-long siege of North America, during which 95 percent of the native inhabitants died, was a project of “settlement” to “tame” a continent – not a continuous series of wars of occupation and annihilation. The few armed clashes with white settlers that are more commonly referred to as “wars” – the Seminole Wars and the Plains Indian Wars – were notable in that whites lost a number of battles and suffered significant casualties; white deaths sanctified them as wars.

President Obama seems to be making the same distinction, in Libya. His minions tell lawmakers and the press that U.S. bombing and drone attacks do not represent “hostilities” because the Libyans cannot effectively shoot back. According to this reasoning, once the initial, overwhelmingly American cruise missile barrage destroyed the Gaddafi government’s air defenses, back in March, hostilities ceased, because the Libyans could not defend themselves from ongoing attack. In fact, “hostilities” never existed, because cruise missiles can’t be killed. Only their Libyan targets on the ground can be killed, and they don’t count unless they can kill back.

President Obama’s thinking is no different than that of the white settlers of North America. Human turkey shoots are not wars, except in the few situations in which the “turkeys” are white.

The deaths of millions of native people was a natural occurrence, an extinction made “inevitable” by contact with the superior white race, according to President Teddy Roosevelt, of Mount Rushmore fame. He got a Nobel Peace prize. So did Obama.

The wholesale taking of non-European lives was not considered warfare, which was an activity between equals. When Europeans fought each other over the spoils of Africa and Asia – that is, over the right to continue to occupy and expropriate the land, and exploit and kill the natives, of the non-white world, at will – these were considered wars. However, when the natives died by the millions – possibly ten million in Congo under Belgian King Leopold – that was due to their own failure to assimilate to the demands of “civilization.” But it was not war.

Barack Obama has totally assimilated the historical values of Euro-American civilization – a characteristic that has endeared him to multinational corporate boardrooms and contributors. He speaks and thinks the language of imperialism. By Obama’s logic, the American military’s “full spectrum dominance,” which gives the U.S. the capacity to devastate other countries without itself suffering significant casualties, can abolish wars in the developing world, forever – at least on the semantic level – since the targeted nations could fight back. No fight-back, no “hostilities,” no war. Give that man another Peace Prize!

Former supporters of Barack Obama, a class that, sadly, includes most of what passes for a Left in the United States, are disturbed, angry, shocked and appalled at his refusal to comply with the War Powers Act by denying that there is a war. In fact, they encouraged President Obama to pretend that there is no war, when they pretended that candidate Obama was not your average, garden variety, center-right Democratic imperialist, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

These Left Obamites held demonstrations against wars in general, without mentioning the name of the War-Maker-in-Chief – denial on a mass lunatic scale. So, why shouldn’t Obama take the logic of the pretend anti-war folks to its logical conclusion, and simply pretend not to be waging war on Libya?

The following is not for pretenders:

The United National Anti-War Committee is calling for thousands to say “No to the US/NATO War on Libya,” on June 27 in New York’s Times Square. Former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and others will report to Harlem on June 25 in the first stop of a national “Eyewitness Libya” tour. A coalition of groups is organizing a Harlem Millions March protesting the attack on Africa, for August 13, at which Nation of Islam Min. Louis Farrakhan will be a speaker. The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations has called for a day of action on August 20 against the “Other Wars” waged by the United States against people of color abroad and at home.

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Glen Ford

Back Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

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