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Is Obama just playing good cop?
Posted: Sunday, January 25, 2009

By Ayinde
January 25, 2009

The Obama administration could be a case of the medicine being worse than the sickness, unless it addresses the abuses of the past Bush regime. Obama spoke of a new era of responsibility in the White House and we should hold him to his word.

Under the previous Bush administration, we witnessed the lack of limits that allow the U.S. governmental power to be abused. Whether or not the U.S. government had prior information and was complicit in the 9/11 attacks, it seized the event and the fear it generated to politicize its anti-Muslim, anti-non-White, pro-Christian agenda under the guise of a War on Terror that has had a far-reaching, negative impact in a multitude of countries worldwide. They manufactured evidence in order to get Congress' approval along with influencing a "coalition of the willing" to wage war on Iraq. The ongoing Iraq war, so far, has resulted in over 1,300,000 Iraqis being killed, hundreds of thousands seriously injured and destruction to the infrastructure of Iraq. Around 4,000 US military personnel have also been killed and countless others injured.

While Obama has suggested a withdrawal from Iraq, he has not suggested the same regarding Afghanistan. Four days in office and he has ordered his first strike in Pakistan.

"Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for his first military action yesterday: missile strikes against 'suspected militants' in Pakistan, which killed at least 18 people." ("President orders air strikes on villages in tribal area")

Similarly, speaking about U.S. acts of aggression, the Afghan president said that the US forces killed 16 civilians. President Karzai further stated the killing of innocent Afghans during U.S. military operations "is strengthening the terrorists."

"Civilian deaths during U.S. operations have been a huge point of friction between the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO militaries. Many of the deaths happen on overnight raids by U.S. Special Forces who launch operations against specific insurgent leaders." ("Afghan president: US forces killed 16 civilians")

The Bush administration sanctioned torture as well as illegal detentions in secret detention centers in Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba. The torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib were just some of the extreme abuses that made it to the wider public's attention.

According to a report by Joby Warrick and Karen De Young, "A bipartisan panel of senators has concluded that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the harsh treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and that their decisions led to more serious abuses in Iraq and elsewhere." ("Report on Detainee Abuse Blames Top Bush Officials")

In Obama's new era of responsibility, he should, on behalf of the American government, also accept a measure of responsibility for the ongoing slaughter in Gaza. The weapons used in the recent slaughter saw over 1,300 Palestinians killed and countless others maimed, as well as the destruction to lives and property. Acts of aggression by Israel are done with weapons and technology supplied by the United States of America and quite possibly with the approval of past administrations.

Obama has called for the disarming and sidelining of Hamas, which is the democratically elected government in Palestine. He also called on Arabs to solidify behind the much discredited Palestinian Authority. So the wishes of Palestinians are being ignored as usual.

Would Obama be continuing the same U.S. policies in Africa? Would there be a continuation of the U.S. efforts in Zimbabwe to force President Robert Mugabe from office? Would there be a continuation of efforts to expand U.S. military bases in Africa?

While there is no clarity about how the Obama administration would deal with all these issues, he has signaled that he does not intend to investigate or prosecute those officials who were responsible for the policies of torture and illegal detention.

If those of the previous administration who are accused of war crimes are not brought to answer through the legal system, and if the laws of the U.S. are not amended to make it extremely difficult for any administration to engage in such acts of aggression, then the Obama presidency is about giving a false sense of security. The era of abuses from the last Bush administration, as well as previous administrations, can revisit us at any time (provided that they are not continued under Obama's administration). In such a case, Obama may be the 'good cop' in the traditional good cop/bad cop scenario: they both cooperate for the same agenda while appearing to be different.

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