VHeadline's Washington DC-based commentarist Chris Herz writes: Our new US president, Barack Obama is a very canny and astute politician. He understands quite well how power works in the USA; his brilliant and meteoric rise to the presidency reflects this. Simon Johnson formerly of the International Monetary Fund and now professor of economics at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology has publicly described the USA as being like a failed state: Her corrupted government firmly sold to the monied and the powerful. This process is on graphic display with every move Washington makes. It does not matter whether the issue is torture, or national health, or the bank bailouts. Nothing matters here to our political class except the legalized bribery they receive from corporations and banks.
No one knows this better than President Obama. He has no inclination to play the reformer. Before him is the example of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last president of the USSR.
Gorbachev attempted to deal with the economic bankruptcy of his country and and the moral vacuity of his party by loosening the constraints which had stultified his people only to see the state system of the USSR shatter in his hand. Weakening the total control of the state by the Communist Party only revealed there was nothing else left in that vast country around which to organize a government. The result was collapse, and a vacuum only filled eventually by those who quickly stole for themselves the material assets of the failed state. And who then, on the model of the USA built a new Russia owned by these new wealthy.
Similarly, the US Congress cannot escape the constitutional system of 1789, which was set up by a group of magnates who were all firmly convinced the only purpose for government was as a tool for the aggrandizement of their wealth. With the possible exception of the armed forces there is no other organization in US society that can govern but big money.
The only mass-based organization of voters here is done by the evangelical churches, and they have shown themselves so crazy that they are now understood by the elites to be as much a threat as anything from the left. This is one lesson learned from the failure of the Bush regime which attempted to harness these people to the cause of the corporations.
Obama understands this fatal weakness at the heart of the empire as well as anyone. He knows how profoundly divided around race and class are the populations of the USA. He knows that the hireling media would turn on him in a moment were he to try to become a second Franklin Roosevelt. He must reckon with a military and security apparatus quite accustomed to assassination and subversion as a method of "regime change."
The US Congress is reeling with the revelation this week that powerful and prominent Congresswoman Jane Harman of California was wire-tapped by the National Security Agency under the provisions of the anti-terrorist legislation she herself had supported. The information discovered, which showed Ms Harman involved in a corrupt deal with Israeli agents, was then used to blackmail her into even greater support for the Bush regime's programs.
We must never forget the anthrax attacks of 2001 launched by factions from within the security services on the Congress as well. There are sticks, big ones, to beat those who might be tempted by the angels of their better nature to decline the money of the insiders.
So Mr Obama's modus operandi must always be to try to avoid any change, even as he attempts to soothe the population with promises. He will not change the economic policies supporting stratification and corporatism. He will not challenge the Drug War. He will not reduce the funding of the military or the security organs. He will not try to economically rationalize the health system. Because to change any one of these things could fatally impair the operation of the whole state system, which is now more than ever a seamless web of interlocked corruption.
Mr Obama does not wish to be the last president of the USA.
From the imperial capital