Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Fan Letter to Glen Ford

This Glen Ford,

not this one.

[It's nearly two years we've been in the US.  Every day treasured connections with Europe, especially with Russia, Serbia and France, seem to fall away.  I try to tell myself it's all for Max, so he can grow up in his own version of a TV sit-com adolescence, so he can go back to his mother in the South of France and be James Dean—well, for him it's probably Ryan Gosling or Bradley Cooper—so he can feel himself fully made-in-USA cool.  But this bullshit is becoming harder and harder to sell myself.

Culture, History and Geopolitics (and movies) in Europe were my dank, depressed playmates, always coming up with interesting allusions to explain the world's cares and woes.  My friends Pierre Péan and Charles Onana have explained how geopolitics works in Africa and Europe.  Their latest works, Péan's "La République des Mallettes" {The Republic (France) of Briefcases (full of cash)} and Onana's "Europe, Crimes et Censure au Congo", are wonderful reminders of all that goes on outside the media exchanges with 'important personalities.'  They have quite convinced me that the business of geopolitics—the business of EVERYTHING else—is Business.  And, as we all know, Business's just another word for something more to steal.

Yet, much against the advice of my European comrades, I early on became very much involved, intellectually and even emotionally, with my Democratic aspirations in full-frontal nudity, in the campaigns of Barack Obama.  The ex-Stasi, ex-NATO spies and other ex-East German communists wanted McCain in 2008:  something about more effectively heightening the contradictions, bringing on the Revolution sooner.  

I think my friends in the Kremlin, who had treated me so kindly in a bumbling return to my native Moscow to observe the Duma elections in December 2007, probably favored Obama.  But my democratic yearnings told me not only that Obama, like Putin, was the right person to give the people back their voices, but that the Democratic Party had the best chance to become a mass political organ like United Russia or the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Parties—all of whom get less respect in the West than Rodney Dangerfield.

So, after having voted for the President as absentees along the banks of the Seine in 2008, I convinced Max that besides getting him on the Cool Guy A-List at his Montclair Middle School, our mission in 2011-2012 would be to secure Barack Obama's reelection.  But I had no way of anticipating the abject disrepair into which political discourse in the US had fallen.

And not just among the ante-bellum nostalgiques of the Pry-It-From-My-Cold-Dead-Hand rightwing psychopaths, but the All Power to the Soviets—All Land to the Pheasants—and Stop the Wars Now self-loathing left could not find enough reasons to degrade unto defame unto invalidate the very existence of the New President.

To the right he is an Anti-Colonialist Nigerian Muslim Communist, whom NO ONE can remember ever having seen before he was elected by an important popular majority in 2008; while to the left he is a mendacious unto shape-shifting Stalinesque Fifth-columnist dupe for US Military Capital, who, after agglomerating all imaginable executive power and prestige, can't seem to get anyone to do anything he claims actually to want done, and so all the Evil in the world results either from his malevolent intentions or his criminal ineptitude: but, more’s the pity, he COULD solve it all with a wave of his pen.

I've lost too many friends—and not just Facebook 'friends'—in defense, not so much of the supposedly Columbia & Harvard-educated person, Barack Obama, but of the real principles and policies at work in the governance of the 'World's Only Super Power.'  How can we hope to bring US policies back into some semblance of serving Humanity, or, at least, the reasoned and decent interests of the American people, if we continue to promulgate, protect and defend such infantile notions as those that bloat the current discourse on the moral rectitude of the Obama presidency?  Must we either believe the President ordered the Sandy Hook massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Oklahoma tornado, just as he calls drone fire in on unarmed Muslim civilians, or that he is just White House-sitting for the next (preferably white) stooge of Capital while trying not to ruin the carpets or smoke up the drapes?

The respected black journalist Glen Ford has offered yet another withering criticism of Brother President's disingenuous unto hypocritical public pronouncements, this time on Foreign and Military policies and the end of the War of Terror.  It would seem that my friend Ford has been sipping from the left side, the sinister side, of that anti-establishment goblet that poisons the senses into blaming all failed expectations on the lies and duplicity of the powerful.  

This strikes me as a sort of second-degree narcissism, with a splash of that petty bitchiness (so popular in H'wood) that finds anyone else's success (especially the ascension to state power of a fellow leftist) a painful personal failure, an insult, and a grave injury. –mc]

30 May 2013                                                                        Montclair, NJ

Dear Glen,

Do you really believe President Obama has the near-absolute authority you seem to be describing in you last piece on Greanville?  Are you like Medea Benjamin and Code Pink in believing that our President could right all wrongs, free all political prisoners (everywhere), and bring Peace and Justice to the world with a mere stroke of his Waterman?  As an example more personal than pertinent:  Do you believe that had Barack Obama been a smidgen less cruel and more decent he might have . . . what? . . . picked up the phone and spared Troy Davis his hideous fate at the hands of Georgia executioners?

I know you're not simple minded--and I've watched you on NPR engage with the learnèd and wise on matters of policy both foreign and domestic--but your need to drag this hyper-simplified, unnuanced critique of 'Obama-Trickster' out of the withered uterus of the contemporary body politic in this country, by casting our President as an all-powerful yet cunning but totally mad Shakespearean monarch, whose every remark is anagogical subterfuge, a damnable lie meant to hide his deep venality and, dare I say it, an inborn tendency toward playing 'da playa': this all seems unnecessarily superficial, to have ruffled the waters of your reflecting pool, and obscured the real nature of the affairs of State in today's USA.

The President is faced with growingly critical instances of private military violence meant as enforcement of extra-judicial contracts for the trade and delivery of extra-legal goods and services:  or, what is happening in the world today, in all its many, far-flung theaters of conflict, is a clash of private business interests. And like it or not, these businesses, however extra-criminal, are what keep the US and its ilk breathing in and out, walking back and forth, eating and shitting. 

The best our President can do is to broker deals with these sub-human gangsters that will accrue the greatest advantage--or cause the least harm--to the American people.  But he has no say in the terms of any of these negotiations, for the franchise of violence necessary to back up negotiations has effectively slipped from his hands.  For example:  Cancel the drone program? Who's going to pay for abrogating the various arms contracts with Raytheon, Boeing and the DoD?  What legislators, from which impoverished districts, are going to accept having military programs discontinued? 

What about this:  President Obama has ostensibly pulled US forces out of Iraq.  Yet, according to United Nations estimates, more than 500 people were killed in attacks in Iraq this May, and April, when more than 700 people were killed, was the deadliest month the country has seen since 2008. Is this because the President lied about ending the war in Iraq?  Or is it because ethnic, Sunni-Shi'a-Kurd tensions have become so heightened since 2003 that violence was bound to escalate with the withdrawal of US troops?  Neither, really. But you well might ask where all this killing-power came from and who paid for it--and got paid for it?

What has been clear since the beginning (at least of the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88) is that the wars in the Middle East are wars of, by and for Global Business (not so much over the resources as over the opportunity to broker the sales thereof), with various States haplessly trying to do the arbitrage that will minimize suffering to their people.  And the largest, most profitable business out there is Global Crime, the unregulated trafficking in arms, drugs, and natural resources (especially the cute, fuckable human kind).  A few years ago Le Monde Dip clocked global crime as a $1 trillion a year tax-exempt boondoggle.

As President of the United States, Mr. Obama has to navigate between preserving, protecting and defending the interests of American working people (as he did so successfully with the quazi-nationalization of the auto industry in 2009 that saved labor union contracts that would have been abrogated had the 'bail-out' been conducted privately à la plan Romney), and keeping all necessary interference in the private business of Private Business, whose avowed enemy has always been the Public Weal, to a 'plausibly deniable' minimum.  

Benghazi is another fine example of a place where the war of the rackets broke out and then was stoked and financed and given air cover by the US government and its military, diplomatic, and media resources.  In February 2010 all the talk of Gaddafy's genocide, mass graves around Tripoli and The Guide's feeding his troops Viagra to sharpen their fighting skills, all the Human Rights bilge that eventuated in a 7-month US/Nato terror-bombing of the country, came from Benghazi, a lot by way of a lying little snitch-psych name of Sergewa from his CIA/DGSE/MI6/Mossad handlers.  Then on 11 Sept. 2012, at the hottest point in President Obama's reelection campaign, some US-wrangled Libya to Turkey to Syria merc deal went sideways, some Iran/Contra shit happened, and your bedfellows on the anti-Obama right went all frothy, AGAIN, over how 'The President lied, American's died.'

I know it must be hard to get traction in the chat-room of American Political/Cultural/Social/Media Criticism, where the only way to connect is to pretend you just can't stomach any more Evil Lies and the Violent killing of innocents--like in that French movie . . . oh what was it?  But trying to hang the militarization of Central Africa on the current administration is just weak.  The Kagame government in today's Rwanda, with its privately funded armies (like the M23) running buck-wild in the DRC, (I've gotta watch more closely because so far I don't read much criticism of Brothers Pilate and M7 and their never-miss-a-prayer-breakfast Christian solders from your part of the BAR), was trained, supplied, financed, led and had its mass slaughters covered up by the US military and diplomatic corps with the JMATs of the 1980s.  

They may have just made the AFRICOM brand official, but CENTCOM was doing just fine keeping weapons in the hands of African kids (and diamonds, yellow cake, coltan, gold, timber and oil in Western inventories) throughout several US administrations.  And after what has gone down in Yugoslavia, Rwanda/Burundi/Uganda/Congo, Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, Libya, Mali and over in Syria, Iraq and Iran, if you think it makes for effective geopolitical criticism to hang a War Criminal's jacket on a Head of State, well, you just gotta break into your Xmas Club and pay more attention. 

The whole waste management operation, including what is risibly called International Justice, is owned and operated by Private Capital.  State power is merely a well-scrubbed 'beard' to mask the perverse predations of Global Capital. Why I find it so bizarre when public intellectuals like you and the delightful West and Smiley start doo wapping under the same bleachers with those gray, off-key cats at Fox or on Talk Radio. Surely you gotta see who you're running with?  Or are you trying to hang on to a little of that Rockefeller or Guggenhiem play?

As I recall, we went around a while back about some shit you said about Rwandan Hutus or the MRND--yeah, that one worked out badly for me, and I'm still really sorry--but this unmitigated attack on the person or the personal character of the President kinda reminds me of that.  I know it feels good, Glen, on some libidinal level, to put a smack-down on the brother in the White House; but it does you no credit to leave the real, heightening political tensions in play today, the violent rending of the fabric of America's flagging popular democracy, to allow this apocalyptic confrontation between unconscionable Private Greed and ever-more anemic Public Good go unaddressed, undiagnosed, and unresolved.

But then maybe Huey was right:  The only successful Revolutionary is a dead Revolutionary.  

Yours in Liberation, Justice and Peace, 


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