Obama claimed he had already decided to attack Syria, and that he had the authority to do so, "But having made my decision as commander-in-chief based on what I am convinced is our national-security interests, I'm also mindful that I'm the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. I've long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that's why I've made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress."But Obama's very double-talk, his own words expose the lie of "by the people, for the people." He says straight out it would be better for his plans if he went through the charade of democracy to enlist the people: "Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective." In other words, this delay is about strengthening the U.S. military's hand against Syria and other global rivals.
What is going on here IS an exercise in democracy--but it is an exercise in capitalist-imperialist democracy, which is in essence the dictatorship of the imperialist ruling class. The Obama team felt it had the freedom, but also the NECESSITY, given the widespread public cynicism about yet another case of "slam dunk" evidence, yet another U.S. military adventure, and unresolved concerns in the ruling class over where an attack on Syria would lead, to give this speech and launch this process he calls for, along with a need to make a case to an international audience and push allies into line and deal with a complex international alignment of forces.
But this is not the government soliciting the people's views and listening to them. It's the imperialist rulers setting the terms and framework of discussion, insisting people confine their thinking to THAT--in order to build public support and acquiescence in the crimes they have already decided to carry out.
NONE OF THAT IS ANY GOOD. This is NOT about allowing public input into the strategic moves of U.S. imperialism--it is about ENLISTING the public in terms set by the ruling class. It is about SELLING not just this attack, but a whole upside-down, warped framework.
The LAST thing people should do right now is breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, this is a moment to SEIZE to organize protests and teach-ins, to WIDELY circulate Revolution's coverage and perspective, including on campuses, and to bring forward a visible force within the U.S. that rejects the whole framework and agenda in Obama's speech.
Larry Everest is a correspondent for Revolution newspaper, where this article first appeared, and author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda (Common Courage 2004). He can be reached at Email address removed
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