Reprinted from Consortium News
There is much handwringing among Democrats about the deepening pessimism that pervades the American people as they question the value of governance and even the viability of a democratic Republic. As the rich get richer, the middle class shrinks and foreign wars go on endlessly, many people feel powerless to change things. They don't trust politicians and are not even inspired enough to vote.
In November, this malaise meant the electorate, in effect, ceded control of the House and Senate to the Republicans who find their anti-government themes at least reinforced in this despairing environment. The Democrats have a tougher sell amid the cynicism. To alter the dynamic, they must convince people that the government is on their side and can make a positive difference.
Obama could start by releasing the secret section of the 9/11 Report that discusses Saudi financing of the hijackers who attacked the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington. Americans have the right to know these facts, especially with Saudi Arabia now pressing the United States to join in overthrowing the government of Syria, a move which could open the gates of Damascus to a victory by al-Qaeda's Nusra Front or the even more extreme Islamic State. Just whose side is Saudi Arabia on?
By giving the American people facts about this erstwhile ally, Obama could let the public better assess whether another "regime change" war in the Middle East is in U.S. national interests or not. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Israeli-Saudi Alliance Slips into View."]
Secondly, Obama could disclose as much of the Senate's torture report as possible, overriding the quibbling complaints of his CIA Director John Brennan. America's descent into torture and other war crimes is a chapter of U.S. history that the public should know so no sequel will ever be written. There is an old saying that sunlight is the best disinfectant -- and if anything needs the light of day, it is the dark side where Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives took the country.
But Obama should go beyond the secrets of the last administration and update the American people on some more recent events. I'm told that U.S. intelligence has changed its assessments of several key incidents that raised tensions in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
There was the sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, that Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials rushed to blame on the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Kerry urged a punitive military campaign against Syria's military. But many of the pillars of Kerry's argument -- including the number of sarin-laden missiles and the actual range of the one rocket that was found to carry sarin -- have since collapsed.
Increasingly, it appears that some extremist Syrian rebels may have carried out the attack as a provocation to force Obama's hand and get him to retaliate against Assad for crossing the "red line" that Obama had drawn earlier on chemical weapons use. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Was Turkey Behind Syria-Sarin Attack?"]
Though Obama pulled back from a military strike at the last minute and accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin's help to get Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons, the mistaken allegations from Kerry and others have never been retracted and thus contribute to a political climate favorable to attacking Assad's military -- just as the Saudis, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, the neocons and Israel want.
Whatever the current intelligence assessment about the sarin attack, Obama could share it with the American people, taking them into his counsel rather than treating them like suckers whose only purpose is to be manipulated into doing what the powers-that-be have already decided.
Obama could do the same regarding two violent incidents that plunged the world into another crisis in Ukraine. On Feb. 20, there was mysterious sniper fire around Kiev's Maidan square that killed both police and protesters, thus escalating the violence. U.S. officials and the mainstream U.S. press pinned the sniper shootings on elected President Viktor Yanukovych, setting the stage for the Feb. 22 coup that ousted him.
Since then, ethnic/political violence has torn Ukraine apart and sparked a new Cold War between Russia and the West. But the identity of the snipers has remained a mystery and some evidence has suggested that they were actually working for extremists within the anti-Yanukovych movement, i.e., a provocation. Some investigative journalists have traced some of the sniper fire to buildings controlled by the neo-Nazi Right Sektor.
Accelerating the Ukraine crisis was the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17. The incident prompted another rush to judgment by Secretary Kerry and the U.S. political/media establishment blaming the disaster which killed 298 people on the ethnic Russian rebels and, indirectly, Russia and Putin for supposedly supplying the anti-aircraft missile that brought down the civilian plane.
The MH-17 hysteria got the European Union to sign off on anti-Russian sanctions that began a trade war that has harmed both Russia's and the EU's economies as well as edging the world toward a new and costly Cold War.