There seems to be quite a lot of genuine excitement in the English language media following the election of Barack Obama. Various commentators are talking about it as if it signifies real change within America and even the world, rather than just the end of another of America’s four yearly electoral circuses.
If one were to believe the media it, would appear that after eight long years of Bush America has undergone a real transformation, the first Black President, and a commitment to real radical change.
It sounds like it is too good to be true. Obviously it is.
So what can we expect from the new regime in the US. Let’s look at foreign policy first. Of course, it is possible to look back at the last Democratic Government in the US, that of Bill Clinton. This was a government that fired cruise missiles almost indiscriminately at its enemies. From factories producing medical goods in Sudan to residential areas in Iraq, not forgetting to fire a few at Afghanistan in-between. We call also mention the two air bombardment campaigns in ex-Yugoslavia, which was referred to at the time as Humanitarian bombing. We could also point to his continuation of US sanctions against Iraq, which according to UNICEF caused the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children, the fact that he was the first to introduce the ideological basis of Bush’s terror campaign. It was Clinton who first used the terms ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ and 'rogue state'. There was also the little matter of an invasion of Haiti…
But let’s not damn Obama on the past record of his party in Government. Let’s allow the man to speak for himself. In April 2007 in his first major foreign policy speech, Obama stated that "We must lead by building a 21st century military.... I strongly support the expansion of our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines.” One would wonder what he wants nearly 100,000 new soldiers for. Well, when he was asked on Fox News last month about the possibility of bombing Iran he stated that he “would never take a military option off the table.” He also wants to put an extra 10,000 troops into Afghanistan where he said that President Bush had ‘responded correctly’ in fighting the ‘good war’, a ‘good war in which between 20,000 and 60,000 civilians have been killed. He also believes that Pakistan is “the right battlefield ...in the war on terrorism”, and has threatened to attack it.
To be honest all this puts him right at the centre of the Democratic tradition from Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam via Clinton in Somalia, Kosovo and Iraq.
And what does he offer to the working class in the US? One of the things that was clear about the election campaign was that despite the background of the deepening crisis neither of the candidates had any proposals to deal with the crisis. This is because neither of them had any answers to offer. Nor are there any answers to offer. All that the politicians can hope to do is to bring in austerity measure to attack working class living standards. The first rule of the crisis is always that the ruling class will try to make the working class pay the cost of it. For all his words about ‘workers rights’, he must still implement austerity programmes. There can be no difference between the results of the economic programmes of different parties. Indeed generally there is no difference between the actual programmes.
So what Obama offers is more war abroad, and more attacks against the working class at home. Everything must change so it can stay exactly the same: meet the new boss, same as the old boss.