by Tahir Mustafa
In choosing the lesser of the two evils by opting for Obama, Muslims forget that he has escalated the drone warfare to new height killing innocent Muslim women and children.
It is reflective of the sad state of Muslim understanding of global realities that many genuinely believe Barack Obama is better than his Republican rival Mitt Romney. The American commentator Stephen Lendman accurately captured this dilemma when he wrote the choice between Obama and Romney is like choosing between death by hanging and death by firing squad.
Since Obama’s re-election on November 6, acres of newspaper columns and endless hours of television air time have been devoted to why the Republicans lost, or how Obama’s “superior” organizational team secured victory, and now that he is re-elected, how he will deal with the fiscal cliff before the January 1, 2013 deadline. These may be tantalizing issues for Americans but for Muslims Obama’s significance lies in how he deals with the Muslim world. It is also quite revealing how the vast majority of Muslims in other parts of the world were also rooting for Obama.
In terms of America’s internal political landscape, little has changed. The November 6 elections have restored the status quo. Obama will stay in the White House for four more years even if some Americans are absolutely furious at the thought. The Senate is still controlled by the Democrats with a few extra seats added to their total while the Republicans keep control of the House with a reduced majority. The political gridlock will continue after the most bitter and nasty of election campaigns in recent US history.
This election has also resurrected the deep racism that afflicts American society. In 2008, 48% of whites openly expressed anti-Black feelings; this figure has now risen to 51%. Anti-Hispanic feeling is even higher at 52%. Given the fact that America is becoming a more diverse society — one estimate says that by 2048, non-whites (African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, etc.) will outnumber whites — this does not bode well for the future. Despite this, racism is a major factor in American politics and life. Obama’s election to the White House did not lessen such hatred; it merely added to it.
An interesting and revealing development as a consequence of Obama’s re-election is that more than 225,000 Americans have petitioned the White House calling for their state’s secession from the US. These petitions expose the deep political fissures in American society; most of the 30 states calling for secession voted for Romney. The appeals were filed on the White House website, We the People. Of these, Texas has exceeded 100,000 signatures (the number at which the White House says it would respond is 25,000). In the past, Texas state governor Rick Perry had hinted he was in favour of secession but later he retracted, feeling that the move is illegal and could jeopardise his prospects for future political office, such as a second run at seeking the presidency on the Republican party ticket. Other states petitioning for secession include West Virginia, South Dakota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Alaska, California, and New York.
While the instrument that Texas signed in 1845 to become part of the union does not allow secession, it is important to keep in mind that between 1845 and 1936, Texas was an independent state. The petitioners are using this as the basis for their demand for secession now. The most oft-cited complaint was “blatant abuse” of people’s civil rights, especially the intrusive searches that are carried out at US airports. Such searches have scandalized the American people.
While Muslims in the US are the principal victims of such searches — Muslim women in hijab and Middle Eastern looking men, especially with beards — it is US “benevolence” at the international level delivered through Hellfire missiles fired from drones or cruise missiles that most affect Muslims worldwide. What Muslims ask is whether Obama-2 would be any different from Obama-1? Even before the election campaign got into full swing, Obama had promised to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. It is highly unlikely that he would bring this date forward despite the US military suffering a crushing defeat. Instead, it has now emerged that while during the day American generals and commanders are busy issuing orders to kill Afghan women and children, at night they are busy philandering. This should not surprise anyone; after all, immorality is ingrained in the social fabric of society. Recent revelations about retired General David Petraeus (who was serving as head of the CIA) and General John Allen have led to much speculation. How much more is going on is anyone’s guess.
And little can be expected from Obama or any other US president to do anything bordering on fairness or justice for the Palestinian people. The Zionist onslaught on Gaza from November 14 to 21 (in fact it was launched much earlier) was supported by the US with the nonsensical assertion that Israel has the right to defend itself. This line was parroted by Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a long line of White House and State Department officials. There was not even a hint that the Palestinians may also have the right to defend themselves from the Zionists’ murderous attacks with weapons supplied by the US.
During the election campaign there were hints that if elected, Obama might adopt a more balanced approach toward negotiations with Islamic Iran. Prior to elections, there was speculation that the US and Iran had been involved in back channel discussions (the two do not have diplomatic relations). What was speculated was that there may be a grand bargain on the table. Instead, what Obama, and the US Congress have done is to tighten the illegal sanctions against Iran. Such sanctions amount to a declaration of war.
Millions of ordinary Iranians, among them many children, have been affected by sanctions because Iran cannot import medicines for their treatment. Even the UN has been moved to say US actions are affecting innocent people. Will Obama do the right thing and lift these sanctions? Given the hostility of the US establishment to Iran, this is highly unlikely, now or even in the near future.
Iran’s leaders have said they would consider bilateral talks with the US only if it would show honesty in its dealings. They point to the US speaking from both sides of its mouth: claiming to be willing to talk with Iran but tightening the sanctions regime at the same time that Iran considers to be hostile acts.
Another area of US policy is the ongoing drone attacks. Will Obama limit drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia? On the available evidence, he would not. This is what has led to such rapid rise in anti-American feelings. There were a total of 46 drone strikes in the four-year period of the George W. Bush presidency when these attacks were first authorized in June 2004. In the four years since Obama became president, more than 300 such strikes were launched. The resulting murder rate of innocents has been phenomenal.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has tabulated 2,985 to 4,533 deaths between June 2004 and September 2012. More than 98% of all deaths have been civilians. Even the 2% militants that have allegedly been killed were low-level foot soldiers with little or no significance. Given these horrendous figures, why does the US persist with such a policy of aggression against other countries, a policy that is clearly against international law?
The simple answer is that the US, and indeed Obama, feels it has the power to do what it likes; it does not care for international law or the lives of other people.