Many Americans were shocked by Obama’s meteoric rise to power. Although plenty of other ‘relative unknowns’ have made the jump from Congress or a governorship to the Oval Office, none of them were visible minorities or able to galvanize public sentiment nearly as well as Obama. Following 8 years of despotic rule by George Bush & Co., huge segments of the American public embraced Obama’s candidacy with wanton enthusiasm. His campaign rallies took on an imperialistic tenor, and for many confused Americans he was psychologically conflated as a political messiah – ready, willing and able to act as civilization’s great panacea. Unfortunately, much of the public was simply projecting dreams for a better future onto Obama. They saw in him a clear improvement over Bush and more integrity than Hillary Clinton, and this branding helped him handily mop the floor with John McCain. Nevertheless, branding aside, with a little critical attention Obama’s rise to power begins to seem less accidental, and takes on all the hues of a prolonged, successful grooming process. Barack Obama did not become a global sensation by accident. He had help getting where he is. That help obviously included corporate and financial interests, but it may also have included the involvement of covert intelligence agencies – perhaps most especially the CIA.
In contrast with the enthusiastic shock many felt towards Obama’s rise to success, fewer would be surprised at the suggestion that the military-industrial complex exercises undue influence in the American political system. Eisenhower warned the world before leaving office in 1961, and JFK’s condemnation of ‘secret societies’ operating within the American government may have contributed to or hastened his assassination. A few decades later the Iran-Contra debacle illustrated that the military-industrial complex could act with impunity without fear of legitimate censure. Oliver North, the scandal’s sacrificial lamb, now works as a ‘political commentator’ for Fox News and is a best-selling NYT author. If this is how we punish culprits found dabbling in treason, one might begin to wonder if Lady Justice should remove her blindfold.
In the modern era, however, the scope of the military-industrial complex’s domination has escaped all semblance of propriety. This, like Obama’s success, did not arise by accident. Society today has been immersed in Hollywood’s mythology since birth. Most of us would be hard-pressed to remember before we first met Mickey Mouse, for example. But Mickey Mouse isn’t benign, and neither is Hollywood. Among the many useful things Mickey Mouse will teach you is that males solve problems, females need males to solve problems, and the ‘good’ guy always finishes the day happy. Few of us view life this simplistically and many would balk at the suggestion that Mickey Mouse really ‘teaches’ us anything, but we are unwise to think this conditioning has no effect on our psychosocial development.
Similarly, Hollywood has spent the last three decades churning out a remarkable slew of movies involving or centring on war, military life, crime and punishment, and intelligence agencies. More often than not, audiences transpose these romanticized characterizations onto how they think the military-industrial complex operates. In the audience’s eyes acts of dubious morality become justified – the heroes actions are always legitimated by the results they achieve. An obvious example of this perceptive tendency is the public’s enthusiasm for 2008′s The Dark Knight, in which the antihero’s actions – which include illegally surveilling civilians, wanton disregard for social accountability, perjury, vigilantism, tax evasion, and blackmail (to name but a small few) – are excused because he gets the ‘bad’ guy. Likewise, in the popular sci-fi spy drama Alias, covert intelligence agencies are portrayed as rogues while their roguish behaviour is beyond reproof. The lead character, Sydney Bristow, was a top-tier college freshman who was courted and recruited by a covert intelligence agency. She goes on to save the world a few times – occasionally while pregnant – but throughout it all the world remains ignorant of her actions. In Alias’s fictional world, the public is kept perpetually ignorant of the very real threat it is under, all manner of resources are marshalled for various sundry endeavours, and the government exists merely as a means of enabling the antihero’s success. This implicitly anti-democratic message isn’t innocuous and it isn’t simply a rhetorical device used to weave a story. It mirrors an established psychopathology: narcissism.
Narcissism, like any other human characteristic, can take on many different masks. Even still, I don’t think this narcissistic/patriarchal worldview is limited to Hollywood, serialized television, or literature. In fact, I think many within the military-industrial complex would readily sympathize. From their vantage, they’re “watching over” us and “keeping us safe [from ourselves, if need be]“. Thinking the application of this patriarchal worldview passive, in my opinion, would be a mistake. Rather, I would argue this narcissistic psychopathology infects large swaths of the military-industrial complex’s leadership, and some of these ‘defenders of the public’ are willing to go through similarly despotic means to reach their desired ends. As a result, I think it pertinent to consider whether president Obama’s success may be a byproduct of a similar agenda.
Along those lines, let’s check in with John Pilger, who thinks ‘Obama is a corporate marketing creation’. For whatever it’s worth, Noam Chomsky has suggested the term ‘pilgerise’ was “invented by journalists furious about his incisive and courageous reporting, and knowing that the only response they are capable of is ridicule.” So, depending on how much weight you’re willing to give Chomsky’s views, Pilger might be someone to take seriously:
John Richard Pilger is an Australian journalist and documentary maker. He has twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award, and his documentaries have received academy awards in Britain and the US. – (John Pilger)
“It is almost impossible to have an intelligent conversation about Obama. The problem isn’t that people come to him with baggage. Everyone comes to everything in politics with baggage. It’s that they refuse to check it in or even declare it. Any conversation about what he does rapidly morphs into one about who he is and what he might be.” – (Common Dreams)
For some, the suggestion that the CIA had some role in Obama’s rise to power will sound like sheer lunacy. Others will immediately assume the worst and project all sorts of nefarious machinations onto Obama’s past. The path of moderation may be most appropriate, but let’s get a better handle on what’s been said, what we ‘know’, and what we might infer.
For an official-esque, sanitized timeline of Obama’s life, see here. It adds an explicit chronology and gives a skeletal overview, but if you dig a little deeper, things get muddy. The domain is registered to ‘Eran Sadeh’ – an Israeli who remotely registered the site. Try doing a search for “barack obama timeline” and it’ll come up first.
To get things started, we need to be very clear in demonstrating that Obama is no spring chicken:
Obama: “It’s ironic because this is supposedly the place where experience is most needed to be Commander-in-Chief. Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world. This I know. When Senator Clinton brags ‘I’ve met leaders from eighty countries’–I know what those trips are like! I’ve been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There’s a group of children who do native dance. You meet with the CIA station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of a plant that [with] the assistance of USAID has started something. And then–you go.”
“You do that in eighty countries–you don’t know those eighty countries. So when I speak about having lived in Indonesia for four years, having family that is impoverished in small villages in Africa–knowing the leaders is not important–what I know is the people. . . .”
“I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college–I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. . . .” – (Huffington Post)
Mentors can profoundly impact psychosocial development, so let’s consider one of Obama’s early mentors, Frank Marshall Davis:
In his memoir, Mr Obama recounts how he visited Mr Davis on several occasions, apparently at junctures when he was grappling with racial issues, to seek his counsel. At one point in 1979 Mr Davis described university as “an advanced degree in compromise” that was designed to keep blacks in their place.
Mr Obama quoted him as saying: “Leaving your race at the door. Leaving your people behind. Understand something, boy. You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained.”
It has also been established that Mr Davis, who divorced in 1970, was the author of a hard-core pornographic autobiography published in San Diego in 1968 by Greenleaf Classics under the pseudonym Bob Greene.
In a surviving portion of an autobiographical manuscript, Mr Davis confirms that he was the author of Sex Rebel: Black after a reader had noticed the “similarities in style and phraseology” between the pornographic work and his poetry.
“I could not then truthfully deny that this book, which came out in 1968 as a Greenleaf Classic, was mine.” In the introduction to Sex Rebel, Mr Davis (writing as Greene) explains that although he has “changed names and identities…all incidents I have described have been taken from actual experiences”.
He stated that “under certain circumstances I am bisexual” and that he was “ a voyeur and an exhibitionist” who was “occasionally mildly interested in sado-masochism”, adding: “I have often wished I had two penises to enjoy simultaneously the double – but different – sensations of oral and genital copulation.”
The book, which closely tracks Mr Davis’s life in Chicago and Hawaii and the fact that his first wife was black and his second white, describes in lurid detail a series of shockingly sordid sexual encounters, often involving group sex.
One chapter concerns the seduction by Mr Davis and his first wife of a 13-year-old girl called Anne. Mr Davis wrote that it was the girl who had suggested he had sex with her. “I’m not one to go in for Lolitas. Usually I’d rather not bed a babe under 20.
“But there are exceptions. I didn’t want to disappoint the trusting child. At her still-impressionistic age, a rejection might be traumatic, could even cripple her sexually for life.”
He then described how he and his wife would have sex with the girl. “Anne came up many times the next several weeks, her aunt thinking she was in good hands. Actually she was.
“She obtained a course in practical sex from experienced and considerate practitioners rather than from ignorant insensitive neophytes….I think we did her a favour, although the pleasure was mutual.”
On other occasions, Mr Davis would cruise in Hawaii parks looking for couples or female tourists to have sex with. He derived sexual gratification from bondage, simulated rape and being flogged and urinated on.
He boasted that “the number of white babes interested in at least one meeting with a Negro male has been far more than I can handle” and wished “America were as civilised as, say, Scandinavia”. He concluded: “I regret none of my experiences or unusual appetites; for me they are normal.” – (Telegraph.co.uk)
Next let’s consider what young Obama’s life was like during his studies at Columbia University:
There was a time before Obama wore tailored suits – when his wardrobe consisted of $5 military-surplus khakis and used leather jackets, and he walked the streets of Manhattan for lack of bus fare.
In about 1982, Siddiqi and Obama got an apartment at a sixth-floor walkup on East 94th Street. Siddiqi managed to get the apartment thanks to subterfuge.
“We didn’t have a chance in hell of getting this apartment unless we fabricated the lease application,” Siddiqi said.
Siddiqi fudged his credentials, saying he had a high-paying job at a catering company, but Obama “wanted no part of it. He put down the truth.”
The apartment was “a slum of a place” in a drug-ridden neighborhood filled with gunshots, he said. “It wasn’t a comfortable existence. We were slumming it.” What little furniture they had was found on the street, and guests would have to hold their dinner plates in their laps. – (Seattle Times)
Someone so ideologically-inclined as to not want to ‘fudge the truth’ on a lease may make a good candidate for a career as an intelligence asset. Such a person could be convinced to think their job as a spook is for the greater good. This is very similar to the path Alias’s Sydney Bristow took. She was recruited out of university by an agency posing as the CIA, when in reality she was employed by a terrorist cell. They were able to deceive her only because of her morality, which was easily manipulated and contorted to serve sundry ends. Could young Obama’s morality have been similarly refocused?
“How then, could he pay for that very expensive education at Columbia, not to mention a summer-long world-wide jaunt? (Oxy isn’t cheap either.) After graduation, Obama took a $12,000 a year job as a Community Organizer. If he had relied on student loans to pay for Columbia and Oxy, how did he intend to pay back the money?” – (Canonfire)
“Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard are all very expensive schools. How did he pay for his education, relocation, and living expenses? Loans could explain much of the story, though not all of it. Scholarships? He was, by all accounts, a less-than-diligent student, at least until Columbia.” – (Canonfire)
Obama graduated from Columbia College in 1983, and after spending a year in New York, moved to Chicago.
Wayne Allyn Root says, “I don’t know a single person at Columbia that knows him, and they all know me. I don’t have a classmate who ever knew Barack Obama at Columbia. Ever! … Nobody recalls him. I’m not exaggerating, I’m not kidding.”
Questioner: Were you the exact same class?
Root: Class of ’83 political science, pre-law Columbia University. You don’t get more exact than that. Never met him in my life, don’t know anyone who ever met him. At the class reunion, our 20th reunion five years ago, 20th reunion, who was asked to be the speaker of the class? Me. No one ever heard of Barack! Who was he, and five years ago, nobody even knew who he was… the guy who writes the class notes, who’s kind of the, as we say in New York, the macha who knows everybody, has yet to find a person, a human who ever met him. Is that not strange? It’s very strange…
When asked about his undergraduate training at Columbia University, The New Times states that Obama “declined repeated requests to talk about his New York years, release his Columbia transcript or identify even a single fellow student, co-worker, roommate or friend from those years.”
Many of his classmates don’t remember Obama. He’s not in the yearbook. Columbia couldn’t find a picture of him at school.
What can be said with some certainty is that Mr. Obama lived off campus while at Columbia in 1981-83 and made few friends. Fox News contacted some 400 of his classmates and found no one who remembered him. – (Unqualified Reservations)
Next, let’s consider who the CIA has traditionally been interested in recruiting:
“The CIA uses philanthropic foundations as the most effective conduit to channel large sums of money to Agency projects without alerting the recipients to their source. From the early 1950s to the present the CIA’s intrusion into the foundation field was and is huge. A U.S. Congressional investigation in 1976 revealed that nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations were funded by the CIA. The CIA considers foundations such as Ford “The best and most plausible kind of funding cover”. The collaboration of respectable and prestigious foundations, according to one former CIA operative, allowed the Agency to fund “a seemingly limitless range of covert action programs affecting youth groups, labor unions, universities, publishing houses and other private institutions”. The latter included “human rights” groups beginning in the 1950s to the present. One of the most important “private foundations” collaborating with the CIA over a significant span of time in major projects in the cultural Cold War is the Ford Foundation. – (Ratical.org)
Next, let’s consider how and where Obama might have been involved with the CIA:
In his autobiography, “Dreams From My Fathers”, Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as “a consulting house to multinational corporations” in New York City, and his functions as a “research assistant” and “financial writer”.
The odd part of Obama’s story is that he doesn’t mention the name of his employer. However, a New York Times story of 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation. Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960.
The British journal, Lobster Magazine – which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters – has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji. In 1987, the CIA overthrew the Fiji government after but one month in office because of its policy of maintaining the island as a nuclear-free zone, meaning that American nuclear-powered or nuclear-weapons-carrying ships could not make port calls. After the Fiji coup, the candidate supported by Business International, who was much more amenable to Washington’s nuclear desires, was reinstated to power – R.S.K. Mara was Prime Minister or President of Fiji from 1970 to 2000, except for the one-month break in 1987. – (Killing Hope)
“After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, Barack Obama went to work for a firm called Business International Corporation (BIC), a firm that was linked to economic intelligence gathering for the CIA. For one year, Obama worked as a researcher in BIC’s financial services division where he wrote for two BIC publications, Financing Foreign Operations and Business International Money Report, a weekly newsletter. An informed source has told WMR that Obama’s tuition debt at Columbia was paid off by BIC. In addition, WMR has learned that when Obama lived in Indonesia with his mother and his adoptive father Lolo Soetoro, the 20-year-old Obama, who was known as ‘Barry Soetoro,’ traveled to Pakistan in 1981 and was hosted by the family of Muhammadmian Soomro, a Pakistani Sindhi who became acting President of Pakistan after the resignation of General Pervez Musharraf on August 18, 2008. WMR was told that the Obama/Soetoro trip to Pakistan, ostensibly to go ‘partridge hunting’ with the Soomros, related to unknown CIA business.
The covert CIA program to assist the Afghan mujaheddin was already well underway at the time and Pakistan was the major base of operations for the CIA’s support.
Obama also reportedly traveled to India, again, on unknown business for U.S. intelligence. WMR has been told by knowledgeable sources that Obama has, in the past, traveled on at least three passports: U.S., Indonesian, and British. BIC also maintained a European subsidiary, Business International S.A., in Geneva. BIC had long been associated with CIA activities since being founded by Eldridge Haynes, a self-professed liberal Democrat. The BIC headquarters was located at the prestigious address of 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in Manhattan. BIC held a series of off-the-record, no press, meetings between top U.S. business executives and top government officials, including the President, and the Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury, Commerce, and Labor; the Attorney General, Senate leadership, and the heads of the Export-Import Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. BIC held international meetings in locations like Brussels and Mexico City.
In 1986, BIC was bought by the Economist Group in London and its operations were merged with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). There have been a number of reports that the EIU works as closely with Britain’s MI-6 intelligence service as BIC once worked with or for the CIA. One of BIC’s directors was the late Lord Pilkington, who was also a director of the Bank of England. Obama’s work for a company having ties to the CIA barely registered a blip on the 2008 presidential campaign radar screen. At the very least, Obama helped in providing economic intelligence to the CIA as a contract employee. At most, Obama was, like previous BIC employees who operated abroad for the CIA, a full-fledged non-official cover (NOC) agent. Since President Obama has backpedaled on CIA renditions and torture, as well as warrantless electronic surveillance by U.S. intelligence, he owes the American people a full explanation of the circumstances behind his being hired by BIC, what his job actually entailed, and whether he continued to have a relationship with BIC or any other CIA operation while attending Harvard Law School and thereafter.” – (Pravda/The People’s Voice/Wapedia)
“BIC used journalists as non-official cover (NOC) agents around the world. The firm published weekly and fortnightly newsletters for business executives, including Business International, Business Europe, Business Latin America, and Business Asia.” – (Online Journal)
“In 1981 — the year Mr. Soetoro transferred from Occidental College to Columbia University he visited his mother and sister Maya in Indonesia. After that visit, he traveled to Pakistan with a friend from college whose family was from there. The Obama campaign says that he was in Pakistan for about three weeks, staying with his friend’s family in Karachi and also visiting Hyderabad in Southern India.
How was he able to visit a country that he was unauthorized to visit on a U.S. Passport? Pakistan was in turmoil in 1981 and ruled of martial law. Millions of Afghan refugees were living in Pakistan, while the Afghan Mujahedeen operated from bases inside Pakistan in their war with the Soviets. One of the leaders that based his operation in Quetta, Pakistan was Usama Bin Laden (The Sheik).
Pakistan was on the banned travel list for US Citizens at the time and all non-Muslim visitors were not welcome unless sponsored by their embassy for official business.
There would be only a few reasons a young Westerner of the Muslim faith would travel to Pakistan in 1981. To Participate in Jihad, which is the duty of every ‘True Believer’. For religious education in a Wahabbi sect, Saudi funded, Madrassa, or to purchase drugs from the drug marketplace.
Pakistan was not a tourist stop nor the place to hang out with someone’s family in 1981.” – (Audible Tension)
Here, again, the waters get muddy. Although Afghanistan was in turmoil in 1981, there was *no* travel ban. Well, officially, anyway:
Philadelphia lawyer Phil Berg even told the U.S. Supreme Court last year, before it refused to hear his case challenging Obama’s qualification to be president, that Pakistan “was on the State Department’s travel ban list for U.S. Citizens.”
But that claim is quite false. There was no such ban. Americans traveled there without incident, as shown by a travel piece that appeared in the New York Times in 1981, dated June 14. Barbara Crossette, an assistant news editor of the Times, told her mostly American readers they could travel to Lahore, Pakistan, by air, rail or road, adding: “Tourists can obtain a free, 30-day visa (necessary for Americans) at border crossings and airports.”
Her article prompted a letter to the Times from the U.S. consul general in Lahore saying he would “welcome an influx of Americans” to Lahore. He cautioned only that in addition to getting a visa for Pakistan, American visitors also should be careful to line up an Indian visa for the return trip if they planned to travel overland. The letter is dated Aug. 23, 1981.
Also, a travel advisory from the State Department dated Aug. 17, 1981 notes that Americans traveling to Pakistan require a 30-day visa, and that any staying longer must check in with Pakistan’s Foreigner Registration Office. A digital copy of the advisory is archived at the Electronic Research Collection, a partnership between the State Department and the Federal Depository Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago.” – (Fact Check.org)
Even still, as a civilian, how difficult do you think it would’ve been to have caught a plane into Afghanistan in 1981? Perhaps it was easy-as-pie, but I think this an atypical choice for a vacation and makes for an additional ambiguity worthy of consideration.
Next let’s add some context to the influence of Obama’s parents. First, let’s consider Obama’s grandparents’ impression of Obama’s birth father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr.:
Both Dunhams were upset when their daughter married Obama, particularly after receiving a long, angry letter from the graduate student’s father in Kenya who “didn’t want the Obama blood sullied by a white woman.” The Dunhams adapted, however. Madelyn Dunham was quoted as saying, “I am a little dubious of the things that people from foreign countries tell me.” – (Remorial)
However, it’s also important to note that young Obama didn’t necessarily hold his grandparents in very high esteem or treat them with much respect:
Obama writes in his memoir, Dreams From My Father, “I’d arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents: I could live with them and they’d leave me alone so long as I kept my trouble out of sight.” – (Remorial)
Next, let’s consider the impact of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham:
“Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, and his father, Barack Obama, Sr., met at the University of Hawaii in 1960 in a Russian-language class. At the time, the CIA and Britain’s MI-6 were concerned about Soviet penetration of Kenya’s independence movement. Kenya became independent of Britain in 1963.” – (Online Journal)
Ann’s marriage to Obama Sr. didn’t last long, and she quickly remarried. Yet again, she married an ideologically-inclined partner, Lolo Soetero. Shortly thereafter, she showed her motherly love for Obama:
“[In] 1967, Indonesia’s military slaughtered 500,000 communists (or unfortunates who were mistaken for communists). When Ann Dunham chose to follow Lolo Soetero to Indonesia in 1967, she brought the six-year-old Barack into the kitchen of anti-colonialist outrage, immediately following one of the worst episodes of civil violence in post-war history.” – (Daily Musings)
Let’s add some further context to the situation in Indonesia:
“To make a long and very gruesome story far too short: Back in the 1960s, two oil companies linked with the Rockefeller dynasty — Stanvac and Caltex — felt that their investments in Indonesia were threatened by President Sukarno, who was considered soft on Communism. Stanvac, for our purposes, is simply another name for Mobil.
To protect American business interests, the CIA engineered a coup in Indonesia in the 1965-67 period, which led to one of the most appalling episodes of mass murder in history. Over 500,000 people died in the resultant bloodbath, which ended with the installation of a CIA puppet named Suharto.
Lolo Sotero, Barack Obama’s stepfather, was the key liaison between Mobil/Stanvac and the Suharto regime.” – (Canonfire)
After marrying Indonesian national Lolo Soetoro, Dunham moved with Barack Obama, Jr., to Indonesia in 1966, just as the Suharto dictatorship was consolidating its hold on power, which included the massacre of some 1 million Indonesian Communists. Dunham left Indonesia in 1972, returning to Hawaii with her son. Dunham periodically made trips back to Indonesia, as well as to Pakistan, while working for the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the latter commonly used by the CIA for official cover agents.
Dunham Soetoro was in Indonesia when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Barack Obama visited Lahore, Pakistan, where his mother worked as a “consultant,” in 1981. According to a declassified Top Secret CIA document titled “Worldwide Reaction to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan”, dated February 1980, Indonesia became a hotbed of anti-Soviet students’ demonstrations after Moscow’s invasion of Afghanistan. – (Online Journal)
“Supposedly, Ann was a leftist. Yet she married Lolo Sotero, a key intermediary between the American oil companies and Indonesian strongman Suharto, installed by the CIA in an extremely bloody coup. (Obama admits the CIA connection in his book.) No genuine lefty would have had anything to do with Suharto or his cronies.” – (Uruknet)
Adding to the mix is the fact that Ann Dunham, Obama’s mother, had visited at least 13 countries in her lifetime, and had worked for companies that required travel to Pakistan. Her employers appear to have included the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Ford Foundation, Women’s World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. Note that USAID and the Ford Foundation have (allegedly) been used as covers for CIA agents. – (ProRev.com)
What Mr Obama’s narrative omits is any detail of how Ann Dunham was an economic anthropologist and that for 30 years she devoted herself to studying rural enterprise in Indonesia. She took on projects as a development officer with the Ford Foundation, the US Agency for International Development and the Asian Development Bank, pioneering micro-credit projects that extended small loans to the rural poor.
Dunham’s legacy both as a scholar and a mother whose influences would shape her son will finally receive wider prominence later this year when her PhD treatise, which took 14 years to complete, is published by Duke University Press. A feature-length movie about her life, Stanley Ann Dunham: A Most Generous Spirit, goes into production next year.
“She wanted to know why people do things and how they do what they do – applied anthropology,” says Alice Dewey, Dunham’s PhD supervisor.
But Dunham was more than an academic. In Indonesia, she supported radical groups opposed to the military dictatorship.
The young mother, aged 24, and six-year-old Barack arrived in Jakarta to join Soetoro at a difficult time. The Muslim nation was in turmoil after the bloody coup in 1965 that brought General Suharto to power. But Dunham knew she wanted to pursue her studies and Indonesia, with its plethora of islands and languages, is a social anthropologist’s paradise. – (Independent.co.uk)
Just to reiterate, Obama’s mom studied applied economic anthropology and she was interested in expanding poor people’s access to consumption. “To hell with an education or authentic empowerment, give them a micro-loan and get them on the rat-wheel of modernity!”
Anthropologist Michael Dove described the dissertation as “a classic, in-depth, on-the-ground anthropological study of a 1,200-year-old industry”. Dunham’s paper challenged popular perceptions regarding economically and politically marginalized groups, and countered the notions that the roots of poverty lie with the poor themselves and that cultural differences are responsible for the gap between less-developed countries and the industrialized West. According to Dove, Dunham found that the villagers she studied in Central Java had many of the same economic needs, beliefs and aspirations as the most capitalist of Westerners. Village craftsmen were “keenly interested in profits,” she wrote, and entrepreneurship was “in plentiful supply in rural Indonesia,” having been “part of the traditional culture” there for a millennium…Based on these observations, Dr. Soetoro concluded that underdevelopment in these communities resulted from a scarcity of capital, the allocation of which was a matter of politics, not culture. Antipoverty programs that ignored this reality had the potential, perversely, of exacerbating inequality because they would only reinforce the power of elites. As she wrote in her dissertation, “many government programs inadvertently foster stratification by channeling resources through village officials,” who then used the money to further strengthen their own status. – (NY Times)
As mentioned above, her dissertation remained unpublished until 2009. Here’s an official summary:
“Surviving against the Odds reflects Dunham’s commitment to helping small-scale village industries survive; her pragmatic, non-ideological approach to research and problem-solving; and her impressive command of history, economic data, and development policy.” – (Rainbow Bookstore)
During his rise to power, there were a few instances where he may have been exceptionally ‘lucky’ or benefited from an unseen hand:
“In his first race for office, seeking a state Senate seat on Chicago’s gritty South Side in 1996, Obama effectively used election rules to eliminate his Democratic competition.
As a community organizer, he had helped register thousands of voters. But when it came time to run for office, he employed Chicago rules to invalidate the voting petition signatures of three of his challengers.” – (CNN)
Then there was the time when his Republican opposition, Jack Ryan, had to withdraw after a torrent of negative publicity. His ex-wife admitted that they had a healthy sex-life and the media went nuts. Perhaps he was another random victim of the media, or perhaps not…
In a written statement, Ryan blamed the news media for the controversy, saying its interest in his personal life had gotten “out of control.”
The four-year-old allegations about Ryan were contained in court papers unsealed this week. In them, Jeri Ryan states her ex-husband took her to sex clubs and asked her to engage in sexual activity in front of other patrons. Chicago media outlets had sued for the release of the court documents.
Ryan denied the allegations, which were contained in court papers filed in a visitation dispute over the couple’s son. – (CNN)
Since taking office, Obama has made a number of policy decisions that indicate a sympathy for the military-industrial complex. In a sense, he openly panders to war profiteers, corporate interests, and the bankers, so perhaps this should be no surprise. He hasn’t been a populist champion – he’s been an institutionalist through and through:
The interesting black legislator from the South Side of Chicago was “someone the rich and powerful could work with.” According to Obama biographer and Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell, in late 2003 and early 2004:
“Word of Obama’s rising star was now spreading beyond Illinois, especially through influential Washington political circles like blue chip law firms, party insiders, lobbying houses. They were all hearing about this rare, exciting, charismatic, up-and-coming African American who unbelievably could win votes across color lines… [his handlers and] influential Chicago supporters and fund-raisers all vigorously worked their D.C. contacts to help Obama make the rounds with the Democrats’ set of power brokers…
According to Mendell, Obama now cultivated the support of the privileged few by “advocat[ing] fiscal restraint” and “calling for pay-as-you-go government” and “extol[ing] the merits of free trade and charter schools.” He “moved beyond being an obscure good-government reformer to being a candidate more than palatable to the moneyed and political establishment.” – (ProRev)
“The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration’s expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush’s cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama’s cover-up. We have had recent reminders of this dismaying retreat from Mr. Obama’s passionate campaign promises to make a break with Mr. Bush’s abuses of power, a shift that denies justice to the victims of wayward government policies and shields officials from accountability.” – (NY Times/The People’s Voice)
“Attorney General Eric Holder says a lawsuit in San Francisco over warrantless wiretapping threatens to expose ongoing intelligence work and must be thrown out.
In making the argument, the Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration’s position on the case but insists it came to the decision differently. A civil liberties group criticized the move Friday as a retreat from promises President Barack Obama made as a candidate.” – (Yahoo! News)
“The Obama administration has essentially adopted the position of the Bush administration in these cases, even though candidate Obama was incredibly critical of both the warrantless wiretapping program and the Bush administration’s abuse of the state secrets privilege,” said Bankston.
Last month, the administration said it will try to curb the use of such claims in the future by setting a higher bar for invoking the privilege.
Under the new approach spelled out by attorney general, an agency trying to keep such information secret would have to convince the attorney general and a panel of Justice Department lawyers that its release would compromise national security.
In the past, such government claims of state secrecy required a lower standard of proof that the information was dangerous, as well as the approval of fewer officials.
While the Obama administration has created a new system for reviewing such cases, it has continued to assert the state secrets claims in all the remaining cases left over from the Bush administration. – (Huffington Post)
“[The] NYT accuses Obama of complicity in shielding Bush war crimes from disclosure and accountability, and worse, details the numerous, radical Bush/Cheney powers embraced by Obama in order to accomplish this.” – (Salon)
“Given candidate Obama’s promise to not use signing statements to circumvent the legislative intent of Congress and his pledge to support whistleblowers, I was shocked to read the signing statement he issued on the Omnibus Appropriations Bill that was signed into law on March 11. Not only did President Obama’s action run contrary to his promise not to use signing statements to circumvent the intent of Congress, he also appears to have broken his promise to strengthen whistleblower laws by singling out an important whistleblower protection provision that Congress has included in every appropriations bill for the last decade.” – (Senator Grassley)
In a ceremony Wednesday, US President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing the largest ever military budget, a gargantuan $680 billion for the Pentagon, including $130 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Thursday, he signed a spending bill funneling another $44 billion into the Department of Homeland Security, to strengthen the apparatus of state repression within the United States.
The US media paid relatively little attention to the bill’s passage, or to the perfunctory, rubber-stamp character of the congressional debate. Absurdly, the New York Times headlined its report on Obama’s signing of the largest-ever military spending bill, “Victory for Obama Over Military Lobby,” claiming that the deletion of a few big-ticket weapons systems, notably the F-22 fighter jet, represented “reform.”
The combined total of $724 billion for war and repression demonstrates the real priorities of the Obama administration, and the American ruling elite as a whole. At that rate, the Pentagon and DHS will spend more in 18 months than the entire cost of Obama’s so-called health care reform. Two months of Pentagon/DHS spending would cover the budget deficits of all 50 states. – (WSWS)
For the 2010 budget, we’re back to the muddy water:
For all of his lavish new spending plans, President Obama is making one major exception: defense. His fiscal 2010 budget telegraphs that Pentagon spending is going to be under pressure in the years going forward.
The White House proposes to spend $533.7 billion on the Pentagon, a 4% increase over 2009. Include spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, which would be another $130 billion (or a total of $664 billion), and overall defense spending would be around 4.2% of GDP, the same as 2007.
However, that 4% funding increase for the Pentagon trails the 6.7% overall rise in the 2010 budget — and defense received almost nothing extra in the recent stimulus bill. – (Wall Street Journal)
But if that doesn’t pass the smell test for you, try Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com:
Barack Obama proposes to spend $40 billion more on defense spending this year than was spent last year. Why is he being attacked for “cutting the defense budget”?
Even for the standard-less Washington Post Op-Ed page, which will publish any version of neocon claptrap regardless of how factually false it is, this is rather striking:
Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of increased defense spending. True to his word, Obama’s 2010 fiscal year budget calls for $527 billion in defense spending (not including the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan). That is more than the U.S. allocated for defense in 2009 and equals what the Bush administration budgeted for 2010[.] – (Salon)
Taking all these ambiguities into consideration, I don’t think it necessarily the case that Obama was recruited by the CIA, but then again it wouldn’t surprise me if he was. He didn’t rise to power without assistance. He required handlers and backers and trainers. He’s a polished product, but the emperor wears no clothes. He has not defended the interests of the American people or upheld the Constitution. Obama taught Constitutional law at the University of Chicago, but it takes a creative reading of the Constitution to think he’s supporting the spirit of the letters. Whether he was a spook or not, he’s illustrated himself to be an upholder of corporate tyranny, the military-industrial complex, hegemony, and social injustice. If that’s the “Hope” he’s selling, are you buying?