Communization by Obama (2nd Bush?)

Breaking civil rights
Bush, Obama – change in continuity
by Jean-Claude Paye

Far from having broken with his Republican predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama has now reinforced the law of exception that he criticised when he was a senator. It is now possible to deprive United States citizens of their fundamental rights because they have taken part in armed action against their own country, but also when they take a political position favourable to those who use military action to resist the Empire. Worse – Barack Obama has added to the law John Yoo’s “Unitary Executive theory,” which puts an end to the principles of the separation of powers as defined by Montesquieu. The security policy of the United States President now escapes all control.

President Obama tearing up the United States Constitution (photomontage)

The Presidential elections, and the game of a possible changeover between Democrats and Republicans, cannot hide a marked tendency towards mutation in the form of the United States executive, regardless of the colour of the Presidential ticket. And it seems that the most significant change in the law has taken place under President Obama.

Barack Obama was elected by evoking a future based on respect for the fundamental rights of individuals and nations. But assessment of his presidency reveals an entirely different picture. The visible aspects of this, such as the failure to close down Guantánamo Bay, the maintenance of exceptional military tribunals or the practice of torture in Afghanistan, are only the tip of the iceberg. These elements only allow us to note the continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations. However, there has been such reinforcement of the previous political structure that the form of the state has now changed, creating a hitherto unseen modification of the relation between the authorities and the citizens of the United States.

The possibility of treating US citizens as foreign ’terrorists’ has been a constant objective of the government executive since the attacks of 9/11. By the new prerogative which has been awarded him by the National Defense Authorization Act – that of being able to nullify Habeas Corpus for US citizens and not just for foreign nationals – the Obama administration has achieved what the previous government had only planned but never instituted.
End of Habeas Corpus for foreigners

The Patriot Act, which became effective on the 26th October 2001, already authorised indefinite detention without indictment for foreigners suspected of having links to terrorist organisations.

In order to finally bring these prisoners to justice, special tribunals and military commissions were created by Presidential decree, the Military Order of 13th November 2001 [1]. This executive act enables the trial, by these military tribunals, of foreigners suspected of being in contact with Al Qaeda, or having “committed, prepared or helped to devise acts of international terrorism against the USA”.

The state of war was invoked to justify the institution of these laws, which are so harmful to liberty that they even violate the Military Code itself. These tribunals were set up to judge foreigners suspected of terrorism, and no proof which could invalidate such charges is admissible by either civil or military tribunals.

By voting for the Military Commissions Act [2], in September 2006, the Congress chambers legitimised the military commissions. The law considerably extends the notion of “illegal enemy combatant”, which no longer describes only foreigners captured on the field of battle, but also foreigners or US citizens who have never left their country of origin. While US citizens indicted on the basis of this notion of illegal enemy combatant must be deferred before civil courts, it is not the case for foreigners, who may be judged by military commissions.

In these exceptional courts, defendants do not have the right to choose their own lawyer – instead, the defense lawyer will be a military person designated by the President, who also designates the military judges and determines the degree of “physical coercion” that can be applied to the prisoner. The lawyer also has no access to evidentiary elements of the case which may be classified as “secret”.

Inscription of the ’enemy’ in criminal law

The Military Commissions Act introduces the notion of enemy into criminal law. It gives the President of the United States the power to so designate not only his own citizens, but also any nationals of countries with which the USA is not at war. A person may be prosecuted as an “illegal enemy combatant” not on the basis of proof, but simply because they have been labelled as such by the executive of the United States. Integrated in the law, the charge no longer refers only to a state of emergency, like the Military Order of 2001, but becomes permanent. The inscription of this anomie into the law establishes the exception as a constant. It mutates the judicial and political order by creating a purely subjective law which is at the entire discretion of the executive.

On the 28th October 2009, President Obama signed the Military Commissions Act of 2009 [3] which amended the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The reform was formally necessary for the new administration, because in 2006, Barak Obama was one of 34 senators who opposed the old legislation.

The new law no longer mentions ’illegal enemy combatants’, but “hostile non-protected enemies”. However, the main thrust remains – the inscription of the notion of ’enemy’ into criminal law, and thus the fusion of criminal and military law. But the term “belligerent”, which characterises the notion of ’enemy’, widens the field of incrimination. It no longer concerns only combatants, but also “persons who are engaged in conflict against the USA”. The new definition also applies not only to people captured on or near a field of battle, but also to any individuals who act or even express solidarity with those opposing the US armed forces, or even simply the aggressive policies of the US governement.

The end of Habeas Corpus for US citizens

The National Defense Authorization Act [4] signed by President Obama on the 31st December 2011 authorises the indefinite detention, without trial or indictement, of any US citizens designated as enemies by the executive. The individuals concerned are not only those who have been captured on the field of battle, but also those who have never left the United States or participated in any military action. The law concerns any person designated by the administration as “a member of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and who takes part in hostile action against the United States”, but also anyone who “substantially supports these organisations”. This formula enables an extensive and flexible use of the law. For example, it would enable the government to lash out at any civil defence organisations who seek to protect the constitutional rights of US citizens who have been designated by the executive as enemies of the USA.

Primacy of values over the law

By signing this document, Obama has declared that his administration will not authorise the unlimited military detention without trial of US citizens, stating that this possibility would not be contrary to US law, but only to “American values”. It is in the name of these values that he will refrain from using the opportunity offered by the law, but not because this form of imprisonment would be unconstitutional. He confirms that the National Defense Authorization Act does not in fact provide any new prerogatives. The President has had these extraordinary powers since the 14th September 2001, when Congress adopted a resolution stipulating: “that the President is authorised to use all necessary and appropriate force against nations, organisations or persons who have planned, authorised, committed or assisted the terrorist attacks of the 11th September 2001….” So, in opposition to the framework of the text, he aligns himself with G. Bush’s statement that the agreement enabling the President to engage force offers him unlimited authority, in space and time, to act against any potential aggressor, and not only those implicated in the attacks of 9/11.

The authorisation itself is preceded by a foreword stating: “it is recognised that the President has the authority under the Constitution to dissuade and defend against acts of international terrorism against the United States”. G. Bush regularly used this phrase to justify the violations of constitutional rights of US citizens. President Obama has adopted the same interpretation in order to deny the innovative nature of a law which enables him to do away with Habeas Corpus for any US citizen.

A President who places himself above the law

Here, primacy no longer resides in the legal text, but in presidential initiative. It’s entirely at his own discretion that Obama may choose to refrain from using the authorisation, conferred by the law, to imprison US citizens indefinitely and without indictment. In the same way, he opposes the obligation for military detention of foreign terrorists. Speaking of this, he confirms that his administration will “interpret and apply the clauses described below in such a way as to preserve the flexibility upon which our security depends, and to maintain the values on which this country is founded”. Thus he has deliberately side-stepped the rule that once he has signed a text of law, the President will apply it loyally. Obama has reversed the restrictive character of the legal text in favour of Presidential freedom. In the same way, the concept of “American values” takes precedence over the law.

If the National Defense Authorization Act only serves to ratify the prerogatives already possessed by the executive, the problem only concerns the modalities of implementation. The President must not be limited in the fight against terrorism. For Obama, the disputed articles are unconstitutional, not because they concentrate power in his hands, but because they limit his field of action. The contested clauses institute military detention, which limits the required action “flexibility” on the part of the administration – for example, the possibility of detaining foreign prisoners in CIA camps. The articles in question would “contravene the principle of the separation of powers.”
A reversal of the principle of the separation of powers

Obama has reversed the method of organisation which was handed down by the Age of Enlightenment. For Montesquieu [5], the objective was to prevent the concentration of political power in a single authority. In order to do this, the powers balance and limit each other. Obama, on the contrary, has opened a breach in the exercise of state power in such a way that the legal authorities can no longer exercise control over the power of the executive. The separation of powers has been abandoned in favour of an absence of limits for Presidential action. This form of organisation is valid for a nation in a state of open war, whose existence is threatened by an external power. The Bush or Obama administrations consider that the authorisation granted by Congress in 2001 for the use of force against the authors of the 9/11 attacks is the equivalent of a declaration of war, like those which were voted during the Second World War. The field of application is however much wider, since the authorisation of 2001 permits the use of force not only against other nations, but also against organisations or even simple individuals.

The National Defense Authorization Act operates a mutation of the legal notion of hostility. Its declared aim is conflict against non-specified adversaries who do not threaten the integrity of the national territory. The struggle against terrorism provides a constantly renewed image of the enemy. It declares a permanent state of war, unbounded by frontiers, which blurs the distinction between interior and exterior, since it does not distinguish between US citizens and soldiers of a foreign power. The political and legal structure, built from this new and asymmetric war, reverses the form of the rule of law. The law is no longer a reduction of the exception, but its continual extension.

Pete Kimberley

Turning the Armed Forces into means of Communist take-over
Big Brother: Obama Calls for the Integration of State and Federal Military Forces
by Tom Burghardt

Contrary to his election campaign promises, Obama has issued dozens of signing statements. He has issued another executive order, this time establishing a so-called “Council of Governors.” The order, signed on January 11, further diminishes the sovereignty of the states and builds on a framework for possible martial law. The executive order was completely ignored by the corporate media.

In the wake of the Flight 253 provocation, over-hyped terrorism panics, and last year’s Big Pharma and media-engineered hysteria over the H1N1 flu pandemic, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13528 [1]

Among other things, the Executive Order (EO) established a Council of Governors, an “advisory panel” chosen by the President that will rubber-stamp long-sought-after Pentagon contingency plans to seize control of state National Guard forces in the event of a “national emergency.”

According to the White House press release [2], the ten member, bipartisan Council was created “to strengthen further the partnership between the Federal Government and State Governments to protect our Nation against all types of hazards.”

“When appointed” the announcement continues, “the Council will be reviewing such matters as involving the National Guard of the various States; homeland defense; civil support; synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States; and other matters of mutual interest pertaining to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities.”

Clearly designed to weaken the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 [3] which bars the use of the military for civilian law enforcement, EO 13528 is the latest in a series of maneuvers by previous administrations to wrest control of armed forces historically under the democratic control of elected state officials, and a modicum of public accountability.

One consequence of moves to “synchronize and integrate” state National Guard units with those of the Armed Forces would be to place them under the effective control of United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) [4], created in 2002 by Bushist legislators in both capitalist parties under the pretext of imperialism’s endless “War on Terror.” At the time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called USNORTHCOM’s launch “the most sweeping set of changes since the unified command system was set up in 1946.”

The real-world consequences of those changes weren’t long in coming.

Following their criminal inaction during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, the Bush regime sought, but failed, to seize control of depleted Gulf Coast National Guard units, the bulk of which had been sent to Iraq along with equipment that might have aided the recovery. Bush demanded that then Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco sign over control of the Guard as well as state and local police units as the blood price for federal assistance.

At the height of the crisis, Bush cited presidential prerogatives for doing so under the Insurrection Act [5], a repressive statute which authorizes the President to federalize National Guard units when state governments fail to “suppress rebellion.” How the plight of citizens engulfed by Katrina’s flood waters could be twisted into an act of “rebellion” was achieved when Orwellian spin doctors, aided and abetted by a compliant media, invented a new criminal category to cover traumatized New Orleans residents: “Drowning while Black.”

Fast forward five years. Given the serious implications such proposals would have for a functioning democracy, the media’s deafening silence on Obama’s Executive Order is hardly surprising. Like their role as cheerleaders in the escalating wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, media self-censorship tell us much about the state of affairs in “new normal” America.

Like his predecessors in the Oval Office, stretching back to the 1960s with Pentagon “civil disturbance” plans such as Cable Splicer and Garden Plot, both of which are continuously updated, our “change” President will forge ahead and invest the permanent National Security bureaucracy with unprecedented power.

Under color of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act [6], an unsavory piece of Bushist legislative detritus, “The President shall establish a bipartisan Council of Governors to advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the White House Homeland Security Council on matters related to the National Guard and civil support missions.”

The toothless Council, whose Executive Director will be designated by the Secretary of Defense no less, “shall meet at the call of the Secretary of Defense or the Co-Chairs of the Council.”

Will such a Council have veto power over administration deliberations? Hardly. They are relegated “to exchange views, information, or advice with the Secretary of Defense; the Secretary of Homeland Security” and “the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.”

Additional entities covered by the EO with whom the Governors Council will “exchange views” include, “the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement; the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs; the Commander, United States Northern Command; the Chief, National Guard Bureau; the Commandant of the Coast Guard; and other appropriate officials of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, and appropriate officials of other executive departments or agencies as may be designated by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of Homeland Security.”

In other words, right from the get-go, the Council will serve as civilian cover for political decisions made by the Executive Branch and the security apparat. EO 13528 continues, “Such views, information, or advice shall concern: (a) matters involving the National Guard of the various States; (b) homeland defense; (c) civil support; (d) synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States; and (e) other matters of mutual interest pertaining to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities.”

When news first broke last summer of Obama’s proposal to expand the military’s authority to respond to domestic disasters, it was opposed by the National Governors Association (NGA).

Congressional Quarterly [7] reported that a letter sent on behalf of the NGA opposed creation of the Council on grounds that it “would invite confusion on critical command and control issues, complicate interagency planning, establish stove-piped response efforts, and interfere with governors’ constitutional responsibilities to ensure the safety and security of their citizens,” Govs. Jim Douglas, R-Vt., and Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., wrote.

According to their August letter to Paul N. Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs, Douglas and Manchin III argued that “without assigning a governor tactical control” of military forces during a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake, or an unnatural disaster such as a terrorist attack or other mass casualty event, the “strong potential exists for confusion in mission, execution and the dilution of governors’ control over situations with which they are more familiar and better capable of handling than a federal military commander.”

With slim prospects of congressional authorization for the scheme, in fact the 2008 language was removed from subsequent Defense spending legislation, other means were required. Playing bureaucratic hardball with the governors, this has now been accomplished by presidential fiat, further eroding clear constitutional limits on Executive Branch power.

These maneuvers as I have previously written [8], have very little to do with responding to a catastrophic emergency. Indeed, EO 13528 is only the latest iteration of plans to expand the National Security State’s writ and as such, have everything to do with decades-old Continuity of Government (COG) programs kept secret from Congress and the American people.

Derided by neocons, neoliberals and other corporatists as a quaint backwater for “conspiracy theorists” railing against “FEMA concentration camps,” Continuity of Government, and the nexus of “civil support” programs that have proliferated like noxious weeds are no laughing matter.

Indeed, even members of Congress are considered “unauthorized parties” denied access “to information on COG plans, procedures, capabilities and facilities,” according to a Pentagon document (see below) published by the whistleblowing web site Wikileaks, as are the classified annexes of National Security Presidential Directive 51 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 (NSPD 51/HSPD 20). In a new twist on administration promises of transparency and open government, even the redacted version of these documents have been removed from the White House web site.

As Antifascist Calling previously reported [9], the Congressional Research Service issued a 46-page report in 2008 that provided details on the COG-related National Exercise Program, a “civil support” operation that war games various disaster scenarios.

Among other things, the document outlines the serious domestic implications of military participation in national emergency preparedness drills. CRS researchers pointed to the Reagan-era Executive Order 12656 (EO 12656) [10] that “directs FEMA to coordinate the planning, conduct, and evaluation of national security emergency exercises.” EO 12656 defines a national security emergency as “as any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”

Such programs, greatly expanded by the Bush-era Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8), also removed from the White House web site, established “a national program and a multi-year planning system to conduct homeland security preparedness-related exercises.” CRS avers, “The program is to be carried out in collaboration with state and local governments and private sector entities.”

The Defense Department’s role during such emergencies were intended to focus “principally on domestic incident management, either for terrorism or non terrorist catastrophic events.” DoD would play a “significant role” in the overall response. Such murky definitions cover a lot of ground and are ripe with a potential for abuse by unscrupulous securocrats and their corporate partners.

The primary DoD entity responsible for “civil support,” a focus of Obama’s EO is USNORTHCOM and its active combat component, U.S. Army North. However, as with almost everything relating to COG and current plans under EO 13528 that propose to “synchronize and integrate State and Federal military activities,” USNORTHCOM’s role is shrouded in secrecy.

As researcher Peter Dale Scott revealed [11] in 2008, when Congressman Peter DeFazio, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Carney sought access to classified COG annexes, their request was denied by the White House. Scott wrote: “DeFazio’s inability to get access to the NSPD Annexes is less than reassuring. If members of the Homeland Security Committee cannot enforce their right to read secret plans of the Executive Branch, then the systems of checks and balances established by the U.S. Constitution would seem to be failing.”

One hammer blow followed another. In 2008, Army Times [12] reported, that the “3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team [BCT] has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys. Now they’re training for the same mission—with a twist—at home.”

Analyst Michel Chossudovsky commented [13], “What is significant in this redeployment of a US infantry unit is the presumption that North America could, in the case of a national emergency, constitute a ’war theater’ thereby justifying the deployment of combat units.” According to Chossudovsky, “The new skills to be imparted consist in training 1st BCT in repressing civil unrest, a task normally assumed by civilian law enforcement.”

“It is noteworthy, the World Socialist Web Site [14] commented, “that the deployment of US combat troops ’as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters’ … coincides with the eruption of the greatest economic emergency and financial disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s.”

“Justified as a response to terrorist threats,” socialist critic Bill Van Auken averred, “the real source of the growing preparations for the use of US military force within America’s borders lies not in the events of September 11, 2001 or the danger that they will be repeated. Rather, the domestic mobilization of the armed forces is a response by the US ruling establishment to the growing threat to political stability.”

Since USNORTHCOM’s deployment of a combat brigade on U.S. soil, the capitalist crisis has deepened and intensified. With unemployment at a post-war high and the perilous economic and social conditions of the working class growing grimmer by the day, EO 13258 is a practical demonstration of ruling class consensus when it comes to undermining the democratic rights of the American people.

After all, where the defense of wealth and privileges are concerned corporate thugs and war criminals have no friends, only interests…

Dividing and conquering other Nations for Communist take-over
The “saviors” of Iraq
by Manlio Dinucci

Putting the current jihadist operation in Iraq in a long-term retrospective context, Italian geographer Manlio Dinucci does not perceive it a spillover of the war in Syria, but as the third US war in Iraq. Therefore, for him, it is the war in Syria that spells an outgrowth of the war in Iraq.

The first U.S. fighter bombers, which on August 8 struck targets in Iraq in the area controlled by the Islamic State, took off from the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush, named in honor of the Republican president who in 1991 launched the first war against Iraq. Continued by his son, George W. Bush, who in 2003 attacked and occupied the country, accusing Saddam Hussein (based on ’evidence’ which later turned out to be false) to be in possession of weapons of mass destruction and of harboring Al-Qaeda. After deploying in the war inside Iraq more than a million soldiers, plus hundreds of thousands of allies and mercenaries, the United States came out substantially defeated, without attaining full control of the country, a goal of primary importance for its strategic position in the Middle East and its oil reserves.

That is where Barack Obama stepped in, the Democratic president (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) who in August 2010 announced the start of the withdrawal of American troops and allies from Iraq and the beginning of a “new dawn” for the country. In fact, a blood red dawn marking the transition from an open war to a covert one, that the United States have extended to Syria, which borders Iraq. This context gave rise to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) which, while professing to be a sworn enemy of the United States, is actually instrumental to its strategy. It is no coincidence that the ISIL built up the bulk of its forces precisely in Syria, where many of its leaders and activists flocked after having formed part of the Libyan Islamist groups who were first classified as terrorists and subsequently armed, trained and funded by the U.S. secret services to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. Having joined up with militants -predominantly non-Syrians coming from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and other countries – they were provided with weapons by a network organized by the CIA, and sneaked into Syria especially through Turkey in order to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Hence the ISIL began its advance across Iraq, attacking in particular the Christian populations. It thereby provided Washington, which had hitherto remained officially a passive spectator expressing at most “strong concerns”, with the opportunity to start the third Iraq war (though Obama obviously does not define it as such). As he said in May, the United States use military force in two scenarios: when its citizens or interests are threatened; when a “humanitarian crisis” occurs on such a scale as to make it impossible to stand by and do nothing.

After having caused, in more than twenty years of war and embargo, the death of millions of Iraqi civilians, the United States now presents itself in the eyes of the world as the savior of the Iraqi people. Barack Obama made it clear that “this is going to be a long-term project.” For the new air offensive in Iraq, CentCom (whose “area of responsibility” is the Middle East) already has 100 aircraft and eight warships, but can resort to many more forces, including 10,000 American soldiers stationed in Kuwait and 2,000 Marines already embarked.

The United States is thus relaunching its strategy for the control of Iraq, also to preclude China, which has established strong ties with Baghdad via Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, from increasing its economic presence in the country. In this context, it is in Washington’s interest to achieve a de facto partition of the country into three regions – Kurdish, Sunni and Chiite – more easily controllable. In this vein, Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini significantly pledged “support, including military support, to the Kurdish government,” but not to the central government in Baghdad.

Disobedience by some Gentiles making their lives harder

Does Obama still have a military policy?
by Thierry Meyssan

Thierry Meyssan, who was the first to predict Chuck Hagel’s possible appointment as Defense Secretary, ponders the reasons behind his dismissal. They are not to be found in Hagel’s acts, but in the President’s change of policy. Moreover, he observes, Washington no longer has a specific policy and the Obama administration is carrying out dangerously contradictory actions.
It is undeniable that the Obama administration has lost its compass in terms of determining its national security policy. In May 2013, the White House scuttled the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board without renewing it and, this week, it ditched its loyal Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. Most importantly, it keeps on delaying the release of the new national security doctrine, which it was bound by law to have submitted submitted to Congress already 7 months ago.

Whereas there are clear guidelines for long-term goals (thwarting the economic development of Russia and China) and the means to achieve them (shifting troops from Europe and the Gulf to the Far East), no one knows what the goals are in the context of the Arab world today.

It would seem that in 2010 the “Arab Spring” – long prepared by the State Department to install the Muslim Brotherhood in power everywhere in the region – took President Obama by surprise, at least partially. The same applies to the regime change orchestrated in Ukraine, in 2013.

Today, one part of the US state apparatus is combating the Islamic State, while another part is supporting its efforts to fight the Syrian Arab Republic.

Chuck Hagel, who had requested a written clarification from the President’s National Security Advisor not only did not get a response, but was fired without an explanation.

Indeed, the man failed to win over the staff at the State Department, but his judgment or the support he enjoyed from his senior officers were never in doubt. He had opposed the war in Iraq under Bush Jr and was bent on repositioning US forces around national goals instead of private ones.

His two main potential successors, Senator Jack Reed and Michele Flournoy, immediately threw in the towel, realizing that Chuck Hagel was not removed from office for committing a foul, but precisely for having applied the policy that President Obama had set. Suddenly, all eyes now turn to second fiddles Bob Work and Ash Carter. Moreover, it is not enough to be nominated; it will also be necessary to achieve ratification by the Republican majority controlling the Senate, which is sure to lead to complications.

The specialized press paints a strange portrait of the outgoing secretary. It acknowledges his honesty – a very rare quality in Washington – to better accuse him of being an underachiever. Now his role, as defined at the time of his appointment, was precisely to not start new wars, but to reform the Pentagon, which he was in the process of doing. In the first place, he broke off many ties between US forces and the IDF. Then he proceeded to implement colossal budget cuts, except in the nuclear field. During his tenure, he was incessantly attacked by pro-Israelis, neo-cons and gay organizations (funded by all the above).

The confusion surrounding the entire US policy in the Arab world dates from mid-2012. At the time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and CIA director David Petraeus had seized on the US presidential election campaign to promote a second war against Syria, this time via France and Qatar. After his re-election and the ejection of his two “associates”, Obama nominated new cabinet members with the task of building peace in Syria. But after a few months, it became clear that Clinton-Petraeus policy continued without the knowledge of the White House and against the Pentagon.

Clearly, President Obama is no more his own master than was George W. Bush, and there is every reason to believe that he has gradually come to accept the secret policies of his own administration. Thus, the man who had proclaimed the end of nuclear deterrence, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and had pledged to abandon the war on terror, is in actual fact taking the opposite course: he is modernizing and expanding nuclear weapons, sending soldiers back to Afghanistan and Iraq, and launching anew the hackneyed concept of the war on terrorism.

Chuck Hagel’s dismissal is not a punishment for his actions, but an indication of the change undergone by President Barack Obama.

There is still a need to identify the forces behind Mrs. Clinton and General Petraeus’s triumph. Is it the “deep state” or economic actors? Clearly, the US press is completely at a loss: it is unable to explain what is happening or even to analyze this situation, and much less in a position to provide an answer to the question.

Ultimately, the embassies around the world are waiting for new information before drawing conclusions. Meanwhile, on the ground, the Pentagon is bombing the Islamic State to which other Americans provide weapons and funding.

In the United States as in France, presidents succeed one another without managing to influence events. Regardless of whether we refer to the Republican President Bush or the Democrat Obama, the UMP Sarkozy or the Social Democratic Holland, the machine inexorably continues its course without anyone knowing who is doing the plotting.

Roger Lagassé