By Matthew Rothschild on December 02, 2009

If you closed your eyes during much of the President’s speech on Afghanistan Tuesday night and just listened to the words, you easily could have concluded that George W. Bush was still in the Oval Office.

Or, at the very least, that Obama had stolen his speechwriters.

Because, like Bush, Obama had barely cleared his throat when out came the first mention of September 11, along with the Bushian line: “We did not ask for this fight.”

Like Bush, Obama lied about the lead up to the Afghanistan war, saying that the United States invaded “only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden. “

That’s false.

“President George Bush rejected as ‘non-negotiable’ an offer by the Taliban to discuss turning over Osama bin Laden if the United States ended the bombing in Afghanistan,” the Guardian reported on October 14, 2001.

Like Bush, Obama looked straight ahead into the camera to address the people of a country he’s about to inflict more hell upon, and said: “I want the Afghan people to understand—America seeks an end to this war and suffering.” And like Bush, he added: “We have no interest in occupying your country.” He even went further out on a flimsy rhetorical limb by saying the United States wants to “forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.”

Well, it’s sure acting like a patron today.

Like Bush, Obama exaggerated the “contributions from our allies” in this war effort, which is overwhelmingly American.

Like Bush, Obama cited Al Qaeda’s “attacks against London and Amman and Bali.”

Like Bush, Obama promised a long war against terrorism. “The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said. “It will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world.”

And like Bush, Obama went to great lengths to distort the record of that “leadership.”

“More than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades,” he said.

Well, let’s see: The United States led the world to the cliffs of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War. The United States invaded one Latin American country after another, and subverted other governments there covertly. The United States helped overthrow governments in Ghana and the Congo, and supported racist forces in southern Africa. The United States plunged into the Korean War, and then supported one dictator after another in South Korea. The United States killed between two and three million people in Indochina. And the United States supported Suharto in Indonesia, who killed nearly a million people, some at the behest of the CIA, after taking power in 1965. The U.S. also supported Suharto’s invasion of East Timor ten years later, which took another 200,000 lives.

Obama can call that “global security,” if he wants to, but it’s dripping red.

And here’s another whopper: “Unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination,” he said.

Well, what does having almost 1,000 military bases in more than 100 countries mean, then?

Obama went on: “We do not seek to occupy other nations.”

Well, the United States has invaded or overthrown dozens of countries in the last six decades, and it doesn’t need to occupy them if it can install a puppet regime instead.

And he went further: “We will not claim another nation’s resources or target peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours.”

Well, maybe not for those reasons, but certainly to make profits for our private corporations and for perceived U.S. security. See Guatemala. See Chile. See the Carter Doctrine.

Obama ended this riff by saying, “We are still heirs to a moral struggle for freedom. And now we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age.”

Compare Obama’s airbrushed historical account with the following passage from Bush’s 2004 State of the Union Address:

“America is a Nation with a mission, and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs,” he said. “We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace -- a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman. America acts in this cause with friends and allies at our side, yet we understand our special calling: This great Republic will lead the cause of freedom.”

Finally, like Bush, Obama ended his speech by alluding to 9/1l again, citing the “memory of a horrific attack.”

The White House speechwriters must have carpal tunnel by now from all their cutting and pasting of Bush’s rhetoric into Obama’s mouth.

And that he didn’t choke on these words tells you all you need to know about Obama.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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