by Finian Cunningham
If there is one thing that the office of President Barack Obama demonstrates it is that democracy does not exist in the United States. This may seem a rather outlandish statement. For many people, the fact that the 44th president is the first black man to preside over the White House – with its American colonial-style architecture – is a tribute to the triumph of US democracy.
But many other more telling facts indicate that Obama is but a figurehead of an unelected government in the US. This unelected power of corporate elites – commercial, financial, military – governs with the same core policies regardless of who is sitting in the White House. Whether these policies are on social, economic or foreign matters, the elected president must obey the direction ordained by the unelected elite. That kind of untrammeled power structure conforms more closely in practice to dictatorship, not democracy.
As Michael Hudson and Ellen Brown reveal in their analyses of the US budget debacle, Obama is pathetically doing the bidding of Wall Street – much like an errand boy  .
Brown writes: “The debt crisis was created, not by a social safety net bought and paid for by the taxpayers, but by a banking system taken over by Wall Street gamblers. The gamblers lost their bets and were bailed out at the expense of the taxpayers; and if anyone should be held to account, it is these gamblers.
“The debt ceiling crisis is a manufactured one, engineered to extort concessions that will lock the middle class in debt peonage for decades to come. Congress is empowered by the Constitution to issue the money it needs to pay its debts.”
Obama’s servile toeing of Wall Street’s line is not the behavior of a free leader boldly defending the interests of the people and the greater good. Rather, his behaviour is that of one doing what he is told to do – and doing it with grateful deference.
In this way, of course, Obama is hardly different from his predecessors. But of difference is just how blatant the White House is now appearing to function as a mere tool of the rich and powerful elite.
The irony is that Obama’s election was presented as a potent symbol of American democracy; the truth is that the two-party system has become a threadbare cover for immense feebleness when it comes to serving the diktat of elite power as opposed to the good of the people. “The most powerful office in the world” would be more accurately referenced as “the most feeble purveyor of elite interests”.
Obama’s presence in the White House indulges a superficial moral/political correctness while the masters whip us all into austere servitude.
The US “war on terror” is another illustration of America’s dictatorship of the elite – and Obama’s pathetic servile role of carrying out the masters’ orders in defiance of the will of the people.
Recall that Obama’s bid for presidential election in 2008 was avowedly based on ending the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also denounced his incumbent rival George W Bush over the use of special powers that enabled such aberrations as the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp and a host of draconian home security policies infringing on civil rights
Obama also signaled in his inaugural speech – reiterated again soon after in Cairo – that under his watch the US was resetting foreign policy – turning away from the militarist policies of Bush to a more enlightened approach for settling conflicts with the Muslim World and Iran in particular. “If they unclench their fist, we will extend our hand,” Obama declared with seemingly heartfelt eloquence.
But on every count, Obama has reneged on his supposed opposition to the US “war on terror”. Indeed, under his watch, the US has expanded its militarist foreign policy – which is apparently predicated on the belief that “western democracy is threatened by Islamic extremism”. Obama has done nothing to roll back draconian home security policies, indeed appears to have extended them. And he continues his predecessor’s deception of conflating Iran and its alleged nuclear ambitions as part of this phony “Islamic extremists” narrative.
To perform such a disgraceful U-turn on so many election promises, the presidency of Barack Obama is clear proof that the holder of office in the White House is not the one who is setting policy – rather, he is following policy that is set by unelected others.
When news broke about the massacre in Norway where more than 70 people were killed in a twin bomb and gun attack, Obama reacted like an automaton of the unelected power system, instead of like an independent, reasonable political leader. Even though it was clear within hours of the atrocity that the perpetrator was a blond-haired Norwegian with fascist and deeply Islamophobic views, nevertheless Obama reacted immediately to present it as an act of Islamic terrorism.
Speaking from the White House, Obama said: “It's a reminder that the entire international community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring, and that we have to work co-operatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks.”
The president may not have used the words “Islamic terrorism” but it is clear that he was invoking the massacre as part of the “war on terror” which is predicated on the notion of Islamic terrorism.
In this mindset, Obama was not alone. British Prime Minister David Cameron moved into action stations, saying that British intelligence would help their Norwegian counterparts to track down the culprits – again implying that the perpetrators were part of an international organization – which in war on terror code means an Islamic organization.
The US and British news media also jumped to the conclusion that the Norwegian attacks must have something to with Al Qaeda or some other “Jihadist” group.
That such a widespread and erroneous reflex response from Western political leaders and news media – the so-called free press – can be elicited so uncritically shows how trenchantly the war on terror and its Islamophobic mindset are embedded.
The consequences of this are deeply disturbing. For a start, such a mindset of the Western political and media establishment can only lead to further Islamophobia in these societies. There were reports of hate attacks against ordinary Muslims across Europe immediately after the Norway atrocity, no doubt caused by the malign and erroneous way that politicians and the media attributed the incident to Islamists.
Even more disturbing is that the war on terror mindset fomented by Western governments and media over the past 10 years has led to the creation of lunatic fascist psychopaths like Anders Behring Breivik who carried out the Norway mass murder. Breivik and others like him think that Europe and the US must be defended from some kind of Muslim threat. This kind of logic does not conjure from thin air. It is rather the logical conclusion of the war on terror mindset that Western governments and news media have pushed down the throats of their citizens for a decade.
The sad part is that the majority of Western citizens are not convinced by the phony crusading of their governments and media, nor of the alleged threat of Islamic extremists. Most people realize that whatever Islamic extremists operate, they are either a creation of Western intelligence or a backlash against Western imperialism. That is why Obama’s avowed election promises to end America’s criminal wars and reset foreign policy on a more reasonable, democratic footing got him elected.
The even sadder part is that as Obama’s ineffectual election shows, the US (and its Western lackeys) is being driven further and further into bankrupting, criminal wars of aggression that will cause more victims of violence and social mayhem at home and abroad. And it’s all because democracy in the US (and elsewhere in the West) is non-existent. The US is a dictatorship. And Mr Obama is too ineffectual (save for the masters) and irrelevant to be even loosely called its dictator.