“And believe it or not, entertainment is part of our American diplomacy. It’s part of what makes us exceptional, part of what makes us such a world power.” – US President Barack Obama at the DreamWorks Animation facility, November 2013.
As sensational as that pronouncement was, at least it shed light on how the people of the United States have been sucked into accepting another war in Iraq, and possibly one in Syria, too.
And in a larger context, American’s infatuation with Hollywood-like fantasy helps explain how so many people still believe that Obama and the Democratic Party are less egregious than the Republican Party on issues of foreign policy, civil liberties, the environment and much more.
We’ve seen this movie before
Hollywood is notorious for telling the same story over and over – just packaged with different titles, villains and celebrity heroes. Washington does the same.
In the 1950’s and early 1960’s, the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations told the American public that the US was simply sending "advisers" to Vietnam, but the alleged threat posed by Communism had to be resolved by Vietnamese themselves.
"In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it," Kennedy stated in 1963. Sound familiar?
Regarding Iraq today, Obama said, "The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government," and "ultimately, only Iraqis can ensure the security and stability of Iraq." He also claimed that, "I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.”
Obama read his lines with no hint of acknowledgment that the problems Iraq faces today are largely because of what the US has done there for more than 25 years, or worry that the American viewing public would belly-laugh at his oxymoronic notion that unleashing armed drones, Apache helicopters and military "advisers" within Iraq’s borders does not constitute a war.
Obama’s story about Iraq, and how ISIS (or the Islamic State) is a threat to national security is portrayed as a dramatic feature film, and even though it should be viewed as a comedy that they’ve seen before, the US audience eats it up. According to the latest Pew Research poll conducted Aug. 14-17, the majority of Americans approve of US airstrikes in Iraq.
And lawmakers from both sides of the aisle approve this screenplay, and are now arguing for even more military action in Iraq, and in Syria, as well.
“I think what we’ve begun doing is very good, but I think we have to get even bigger and realize that the crushing and the pushing back of ISIS, not just in Iraq, but also in Syria, is utmost priority,” Iraq war veteran Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos.
Agreed, said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), another Iraq war veteran. “I think we should… look at what are the tactics that we need to take them out.”
Even those who do NOT want the US to become militarily involved in Iraq still follow Washington’s movie’s plot by stating they don’t want further US participation in Iraq because it is essentially a nation of savages and they should fend for themselves.
The man wearing the white-hat
Most movies include characters for which the audience can cheer. "Good guys" are usually physically attractive, charming, smart, tough, funny or cool.
George W. Bush however, did not fit the archetype, so in steps Barack Obama. He’s handsome, intelligent, well spoken and charming, making him the perfect leading man.
Of course it’s an illusion, but that doesn’t stop a wide swath of people from believing the myth.
So, to clear up any "Is it live, or is it Memorex" moments, and to aid the American public in separating fantasy from reality, below is the script for a short subject documentary to counter the fictional, B movie presented by Obama and the Democratic Party.
Scene 1: Obama and the Democrats are NOT better than Republicans on war
War is the worst possible event that can happen in society because it inevitably includes not only death and suffering, but poverty, sexual assaults, depression, homelessness, child abuse, environmental destruction, drug addiction, disease, misery, anger, and much more, all of which is catastrophic for a people and its culture.
So, even though Obama has dropped bombs on 6 countries compared to the 4 countries bombed under Bush, the perception of Obama is that he is a good guy who wears the white-hat.
Republican counterparts and much of the establishment media in the US portray Obama as being soft on foreign policy and a reluctant warrior. But peace doves don’t do these things:
- Replace some US boots on the ground with drones, mercenaries and Special Ops. In fact Obama has deployed US Special Forces to 134 countries – compared to 60 under Bush.
- Significantly increase the US military footprint in Africa to the point that now at least 27 African nations have a US military presence.
- Wage war on Libya without congressional approval, triple the troops in Afghanistan, sharply escalate the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, continue the proxy war in Somalia, try to start a war in Syria, support Israel’s war on Gaza (as did every Democratic US Senator), and start another war in Iraq.
Even in a country where people believe that "reality TV" is actually real, Obama’s Bush-like narrative regarding Iraq today is particularly comical. You would think Dick Cheney is writing the president’s speeches again when you hear Obama contemptuously telling Americans that US airstrikes are being carried out in a "humanitarian" effort.
What’s next, having an orgy to encourage celibacy? Or having a keg party to promote sobriety?
It’s bad enough that Obama’s followers give him a pass on his hyper-violent, action thriller foreign policy and the corresponding deceit, but for them to sit back and remain silent at the duplicity of the US being on the same side as ISIS in Syria and while bombing them in Iraq takes willful ignorance to a new level.
But just like parents who tell their kids to cover their eyes during bloody movie scenes, the Democratic Party knows that they can tell their constituency to turn their heads when their party plays its role in the horror film that is known as US foreign policy.
What else explains the silence from Democrats as the Obama administration supports neo-Nazis in Ukraine? Can you imagine what they’d be saying if a Republican president supported neo-Nazis? But when their guy does it, they stick to the script, and just look the other way.
It was obvious that Obama is not a person of peace based on his words in 2002 when he stated, "I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war." What if his monologue replaced the word "war" with "child abuse" or "sexual assaults"? Are child abuse and sexual assault worse than war? Of course not, since all wars include child abuse and sexual assault, as mentioned previously. But, on queue, the Obama fan club closed their ears and didn’t offer a moment of contemplation to his statement.
Scene 2: Oh, but it’s more than just issues of war
There are some Democratic Party loyalists who sheepishly admit that Obama’s foreign policy follies are on par with that of previous Republican Presidents. But their admission is typically followed up with the fictional believe that Obama has been good on other issues like the environment and civil liberties.
Of course, this believe is based on wishful thinking and not facts, given that Obama has:
- Filmed a TV commercial for "clean coal," touted nuclear power even after the Fukishima disaster, and said that deepwater oil drilling is safe even after the Gulf oil spill.
- Defended the use of body scans and pat downs at airports.
- Created a "secret kill list" that he discusses on "Terror Tuesdays," and has assassinated at least 4 US citizens without trial.
- Fully defended the NSA spying program and mandated the Insider Threat Program, which orders federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues.
- Waged a war on whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.
- Signed the Monsanto Protection Act into law, giving Monsanto complete legal protection as they poison our food and crush family businesses.
- Deported a record-2 million immigrants.
- Pushed the signing of the TPP, which is essentially NAFTA on steroids.
- Signed the Patriot Act extension into law.
- Watched as more than 7,000 people were arrested during the Occupy protests.
And of course, Obama completely embraces the "US is the best country in the world" storyline by enthusiastically supporting the perilous notion of "American Exceptionalism" and the false, jingoistic concept that the US military is a force for good that is "protecting our freedoms."
Following the disastrous Bush years, Obama could have written a new script for America, but instead he has pushed the same fantasy promoted by Bush, just in a more palatable way. Manifest Destiny and xenophobia are principles that could have been laid to rest, or at least diffused. Instead, Obama and Democrats have normalized them.
Final Act: On a national level, a woman’s right to choose and the 2nd Amendment are distraction issues
If a Republican President tried to overturn Roe v. Wade, it would not be a stretch to see millions of people on the street protesting. Many people would stop going to work, the economy would slow down and there would be a near revolution. The same holds true if a Democratic President tried to overturn the 2nd Amendment.
Both parties know this. So, when the Republicans need to energize their voting base, they start telling people "Democrats want to take away your guns." Democrats do the same with the abortion issue.
On a state level it’s a different story, but when it comes to Congress and the White House, the issues of guns and abortion are simply a way to maintain the Republican vs. Democrat movie theme, to trick people into plugging their nose and voting for "the lesser of two evils," and to accept the atrocities both Republicans and Democrats carry out all over the world, and at home.
Hollywood has conditioned people to believe fiction is fact. Washington has done an expert job of mimicking this winning formula of convincing people that their storylines are real, when obviously they are not.
In a sense, Obama was correct when he said that entertainment is part of what makes Americans exceptional. By not being able to separate fact from fiction, Americans are exceptionally easy to manipulate, exceptionally susceptible to believing the "good guy" vs. "bad guy" oversimplified plot, and exceptionally vulnerable to smoke and mirror Academy-Award-winning stories told by their government.
Chris Ernesto is cofounder of St. Pete for Peace, an antiwar organization in St. Petersburg, FL that has been active since 2003. Mr. Ernesto also created and manages OccupyArrests.com and USinAfrica.com.