As the news of the Connecticut school massacre sinks in, it would take a hard-hearted person not to feel for the parents, families and friends of the victims. It is the sort of event which most of us will not experience first-hand, but some of us may know someone who has gone through a similar tragedy.
In fact, a good friend of mine lost one nephew in a bomb attack in 2008 and last month another nephew was seriously wounded in almost identical circumstances. On the second occasion, President Barack Obama gave the people who wounded the young man – one leg was blown off, as was half of an arm – the green light to continue with their maiming and slaughter of innocents “in self-defence”. My friend, as you might have guessed, is a Palestinian from Gaza; his nephews’ attackers were Israelis. There was no sign of any grief from Obama, the newly-elected US president on either occasion. No wiping of a tear, nor heartfelt words to try to comfort those left behind to cope with their grief and efforts to re-establish a normal life of the kind we all take for granted.
Like all of his predecessors since World War Two, Obama gives Israel carte blanche to do whatever it wants to the Palestinians. Indeed, he even makes sure that it has the most up-to-date arsenal with which to do its dirty work. Just last week, it was announced that America will replace the munitions used by Israel in its massive bombardment of civilians in the Gaza Strip for eight days and nights in November. Has he suggested that arms and ammunition should be made easier for US citizens to obtain in the wake of Connecticut? No way; he’s already, less than 24 hours later, talking of re-opening the debate about gun control. The President of the United States is, however, more than willing to pump the most lethal munitions the military-industrial complex can produce to a state which breaks international laws and conventions at will, and with impunity thanks to his country’s unflinching support.
Israel fulfils all of the usual criteria for classification as a rogue state, and yet America insists that it has a “right” to defend its citizens from “terrorism”. As the dominant state in the world, the US definition of “terrorism” and who is a “terrorist” takes precedence, so the people of Palestine, whose right as a people under military occupation to resist in every which way they can must surely take precedence over any rights of the occupiers, are labelled as “terrorists”. This is manifestly unjust, yet the same president, a “family man” who can shed a tear at the tragic loss of American lives is incapable of sharing the pain of the family men and women who lose their children in besieged Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Far from it; he encourages the killers to carry on with more of the same. And what about the victims of America’s drone attacks, many of whom, like those in Gaza killed by Israeli bombs paid for by US taxpayers, have also been “children aged between 5 and 10 years… With their entire lives ahead of them…”? No US presidential tears are shed for them on prime-time television.
There are many aspects of Obama which are hard to stomach: the nauseous pseudo-sincerity which afflicts all US politicians, especially at election time (who are they waving at when they step on to the podium?); his crocodile tears at the deaths of innocent American children when he and his people know that he has been responsible for the violent and bloody deaths of hundreds of children around the world; his weasel words in Cairo in 2009 which haven’t been matched by his actions; in short, the hypocrisy and double standards that affect international politics led by Washington. So which Obama on view should we believe?
Can we really believe him when he talks about the need for gun control at home while he is all too willing to spread death and destruction through arms sales and “military aid” to countries like Israel? Can we really believe him when he talks about protecting “US interests” when what he really means is bowing to the pro-Israel Lobby which dictates America’s foreign policy and puts the interests of an alien state before those of the American people? Can we really believe him when he makes speeches promising better relations with the Muslim world but then continues to give the main protagonist in the Middle East and the biggest threat to world peace – the state of Israel – unbridled political, financial and military support to occupy Muslim lands and kill Muslims almost daily? Can we really believe anything the man says about “peace and democracy” when he presides over a government which sends drones to kill Muslims in foreign lands with an incredibly high body count of innocents along the way?
The enigma that is Barack Obama is becoming clearer. He is in thrall to Israel and the campaign donations and votes that his support elicits. Even as a second-term president able to pursue his own policies without fear of the lobbyists and their pernicious agendas, Obama is weak and incapable of standing up for what is right. The people of America should thus take his words about reassessing gun control with a massive pinch of salt. He doesn’t mean them; his actions in the Middle East and elsewhere demonstrate that he cannot mean them. His hands are so blood-soaked that it is hypocritical of him or anyone else to pretend otherwise.
Nevertheless, unless he is telling us that American children are more deserving than children in Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen – as a family man with connections in Africa could he really believe that? – then he has to start making changes which are within his power to prevent even more young lives being lost needlessly. He will face a huge battle against the gun lobby in the United States, so he is unlikely to achieve anything in that respect. US support for Israel, however, is within his power to stop tomorrow, or make it much more conditional on Israel obeying the law like other responsible nations, if he wants to. That is the real question today as the world contemplates the massacre in Connecticut. Does President Obama really mean what he says on this and similar incidents? The evidence suggests that the answer is no, and the world – America included – will remain a dangerous place for children and their parents because an impotent US president won’t, indeed can’t, do anything about it.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.