Obama, a Political Houdini
There’s a new act in the White House these days, but while Harry Houdini built his reputation performing death-defying escapes and magic tricks his political Doppelganger is certainly the master of dark arts and mass illusion. This President has gone from charming to harming and few have noticed, writes YVONNE RIDLEY.
I wonder how many of you have woken up to the fact that America’s latest leader is really a political Houdini … an illusionist on a presidential scale. In front of our very eyes, he has morphed from a gentle intellectual, and strong defender of human rights into a war-mongering bully who sponsors targetted assassinations and orders pre-emptive strikes with casual ease.
It took George W. Bush years before he dared to unveil his true intentions and invade Iraq, displacing three million people in a war which cost the lives of thousands of US soldiers and the slaughter of countless civilians. Whereas the smooth-talking Obama has achieved the same in just a few months since he arrived in the White House by launching an illegal war on Pakistan… but he’s using someone else’s army instead of his own. He is twice as clever as the previous White House incumbent and far, far more deadly. Obama is quite possibly one of the world’s most skillful manipulators and his greatest illusion so far is fooling the public as well as the media. While blatantly using Pakistan’s army as a cheap source of military labour he holds the country’s leader Asif Ali Zadari in suspended animation, trapped helplessly in an almost hypnotic state, induced by the promise of millions of dollars and the support of the world’s biggest military machine.
Of course, we must lay some blame at Zadari’s feet for allowing himself to be used like a magician’s assistant instead of acting with the dignity and honour his office, country and people demand. Obama is far more lethal than his predecessor – and yet his transformation from Mr. Nice Guy to something more sinister seems to have gone largely unnoticed by the world’s watching media which appears to be intoxicated by the powerful charisma emanating from his rich, but smooth seductive tones.
He has already reneged on promises over closing down Guantanamo, ending military tribunals and releasing to the public the entire archive of shame which captured the torture and abuse of the previous administration’s War on Terror in video and film from 2001 onwards. Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee remarked recently over one of his u-turns: “President Obama has recently granted immunity to CIA agents… if the desire to get at what went wrong is so blatantly covered up under cover of ‘national security concerns,’ there will be no end to this. And once again, the warmongers will get away with another odious and criminal cover-up.”
He has the power to make Guantanamo’s vile prison disappear and for a few glorious weeks human rights activists across the world waited with bated breath for the cages of Cuba, Bagram and elsewhere to fly open. Just how difficult is it for the media to dip into their own archives and remind Obama about the pledges he made on the campaign trail and hold him to account? His first promise on the White House website was that his administration would be the most transparent in US history. Sadly these grand statements have not been followed through. But this journalistic amnesia is all too convenient – what happened to his determination to bring home all combat troops from Iraq within 18 months?
Is there no journalist from the White House lobby prepared to remind him of how he said during televised presidential debates that getting Usama bin Ladin was ‘our biggest national security priority’? Perhaps the hypnotic Obama Effect has wiped their computer hard-drives and their memories but if you listen to his very first TV interview as the Commander-in-Chief of America he said Usama was more than a symbol. His actual words were: “He’s also the operational leader of an organization that is planning attacks against U.S. targets,” adding that “capturing or killing bin Ladin is a critical aspect of stamping out al-Qaida.”
Having secured the votes from red neck territory by saying Obama will get Usama, he now says that killing or capturing the al-Qaida chief is no longer necessary to “meet our goal of protecting America.”
However, American Armenians are not so gullible and quite a few were shocked out of their trance following the US President’s recent visit to Turkey when he executed with the greatest of ease yet another presidential flip-flop.
“As President, I will recognise the Armenian genocide,” he declared loud and proud during his campaign, but when he arrived in Turkey, he sort of muttered, when asked about the hugely sensitive subject: “My views are on the record, and everyone knows my views.” And then he refused to elaborate and state them!
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” said Obama before he took the keys to the White House – may be that’s why, when I watch the US President perform under the glare of the spotlights on the world stage, I can see something of the night lurking around his presidential shadows. There are a few of us who are immune to the charms of the new President. Like me, they believe that the sheep’s clothing has vanished and what we now have is a dangerous wolf stalking the corridors of power on Capitol Hill.
Yes, there’s a new act in the White House these days but while Harry Houdini built his reputation performing death-defying escapes and magic tricks, his political Doppelganger is certainly the master of dark arts and mass illusion. This President has gone from charming to harming and few have noticed.
*Journalist Yvonne Ridley is a patron of the human rights organization Cage Prisoners at www.cageprisoners.com and a member of the RESPECT political party as well as being a presenter of the weekly political show The Agenda on Press TV