George Orwell in his much underrated book Burmese Days [1] characterizes empire laconically as “going to other people’s countries and stealing their things.” Working as a colonial official in Myanmar (then colonized as “Burma”) Orwell was on one occasion compelled reluctantly to shoot an elephant which was rampaging about a village. He reflected is his essay “Shooting an Elephant” that empire, for the colonial official, when all is said and done is “one long struggle not to be laughed at.” While researching for this article I stumbled across the website of Advertising Age which had awarded the “Obama brand” the status of “Advertising Age’s marketer of the year” easily trumping Apple Computers. This provided me with a moment of laughter as for me it summed up the delusionary nature of “Americanism” - the imperial ideology which denies that it is an ideology - now undergoing rebranding by the President of War Barack Obama and his media accomplices. Indeed Brand Obama, put simply, is the attempt by an empire to gain legitimacy, as opposed to laughter or cynicism, when it goes to other people’s countries to steal their things. According to journalist Chris Hedges: “Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they can make you feel.” [2]

It is such a bitter irony that the son of a formerly colonized Kenyan should now become the colonizer, advancing the interests of the mostly white power elite [3] With his administration of war mongers, corporate lickspittles and apologists for torture Barack Obama is seeking to revive, not “change,” the concept of a “Divine America” which finds its genesis in the Lebensraum policies [4] implemented against the indigenous people of North America.

The original sin committed against the aboriginal people of North America wove the genocidal thread into American nation’s fabric with the Declaration of Independence defining the first ‘terrorists’ who were called the “merciless Indian savages.” Any indigenous peoples who stood between “Divine America” and its “god given right” to the world’s resources thereafter would be dehumanized and terrorised until they acquiesced to the looting of their lands and treasures. The enslavement of blacks, the theft of Mexican land, the subjugation of Central America, Cuba and the Philippines were all the fruition of the genocidal, expansionist policies of this imperial plutocracy.

After World War II the American Empire came to the fore appropriating much of the anti-Communist machinery which had been established by Hitler and his US sponsors such as Henry Ford, IBM and GM (among others), who funded Hitler’s Holocaust (see the scholarship of Edwin Black) against organized labour, Gypsies, Slavs, Jews, homosexuals and others in a joint attempt to protect the capitalist system from progress to socialism.

Throughout the distinctly scorching, ‘Cold War’ the American Empire overthrew some 50 governments and crushed 30 Liberation movements (see the scholarship of William Blum) as it expanded the tentacles of its informal Empire by sponsoring proxy armies and drug racketeers - in keeping with colonial traditions - such as the so called Mujahedeen in Afghanistan (See: Peter Dale Scott’s scholarship in regard to the US government’s complicity in the narcotics trade [5]). The disputed events of September 11th 2001, when three buildings were pulverized by two planes in New York City – WTC Building 7 being the first building in architectural history to collapse from office fires – provided the pretext for an ambiguous “War on Terror” (for scholarly, peer-reviewed critiques of Washington’s unsubstantiated interpretations of the events of 9/11 see the works of: Prof. Peter Dale Scott, Prof. David Ray Griffin, Prof. Kevin Barrett, Prof. Anthony J Hall, Prof. Stephen Jones, Architect Richard Gage, Prof. Michael Keefer, Prof. Graham McQueen [6]). The “War on Terror,” was the jargon phrase coined in 1979 by Israeli Prime Minister and credibly accused war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu. The oxymoron was harnessed by the American Empire as a slogan to justify the illegal colonization of Afghanistan and Iraq and the dehumanization of the countries’ inhabitants which was undertaken, partially, to erect the Unocal Pipeline to facilitate despoliation of the Caspian resource enclave. Quisling, comprador administrations were installed in Afghanistan and Iraq to provide a façade of legitimacy to the colonial enterprise.

President Barack Hussein Obama has chosen to embrace, not dismantle, the complex imperial infrastructure which was bequeathed to him. Obama, contrary to popular belief, was given more corporate sponsorship than his opponent John McCain. Brand Obama spent a record $75million on televised propaganda prior to his landslide election victory. Most flabbergasting was the fact that much of the global community were so mesmerized by the slick, young, charismatic, Afro-American election candidate that few people actually critically analysed his exceedingly hawkish, pro-business policies. If more people had analysed Obama’s proposed agenda they would have noticed that the choice between him and his decrepit opponent was comparable to the choice between Pepsi and Coke. Both candidates agreed on almost everything, pledging “bipartisanship,” most notably on the continuation of the unlawful War on Terror. Obama, like Bush and McCain bases his justification for the unlawful wars on a tortured confession from somebody called Khalid Sheik Mohamed, who himself is a former CIA affiliate via the Pakistani ISI.

The vacuous “We Are Change” and “Yes We Can” (the latter plagiarized from Latin American union organizer Cesar Chavez’s chant “Sí, se puede!”) chants of Brand Obama were exposed to be grand deceptions as early as January 2009 during the Israeli massacre in Gaza which killed 1400 captive Palestinians. According to Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh: “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel.” Thus from the moment he took office President Obama was aiding and abetting what professor of international law, Francis A Boyle terms “Israel’s Final Solution…(of) slow motion genocide” against the mostly unarmed and malnourished Palestinian people. In his first 100 days as president, Obama excused torture, opposed habeas corpus, and demanded more covert government while rebranding and retooling the most lethal military-industrial-complex ever assembled [7]. In his book, the ostensible goal of which is “Reclaiming the American Dream” [8], Obama declares an aspiration to increase military spending, opining: “Indeed, given the depletion of our forces after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will probably need a somewhat higher budget in the intermediate future just to restore readiness and replace equipment.” We can surmise that “readiness” is a euphemism for increasing Washington’s ability to conquer coveted polities in keeping with the historic “American Dream” he seeks to remarket.

Rather than doing away with Bush’s gulag on stolen Cuban soil Obama’s legal team have won an appeal in the courts which designates the hostages “not persons,” who now are officially dispossessed of the human right not to be tortured. Indeed Obama’s national intelligence director Admiral Denis Blair unabashedly condones torture as an effective method of interrogation. According to journalist Alexander Cockburn, Obama is “as sure-footed as Bush and Cheney in trampling on constitutional rights. He’s planning to restore Bush’s kangaroo courts for prisoners at Guantanamo who’ve never even been formally charged with a crime! He’s threatening to hold some prisoners indefinitely in the US without trial.” Another of Obama’s senior intelligence officials’ stands accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989 and another is an infamous apologist for Pinochet. George Bush’s secretary of “defence” (or rather attack), Robert Gates, is among the cabal of credibly accused war criminals who have been retained by Obama as he spreads the American Empire’s sphere of influence into yet another sovereign country, Pakistan.
We now know that the Honduran coup d’etat against leftist President-elect Manuel Zelaya was tacitly backed by Washington [9]. Obama has turned his back on the Great Awakening in Latin America and has begun to side with the Honduran military dictatorship which was permitted to stop at a US military base to refuel the plane they had kidnapped Zelaya in. According to Guardian journalist, Hugh O’Shaughnessy: “Obama is presiding over a group of politicians and civil servants who appear to think that they have it in their power to convince Latin Americans and the world that a Honduran coup d’etat is not a coup d’etat and that a dictatorship which imposes curfews and gags the media as part of a drive to help the interests of foreign businessmen is a democratic government.” Obama has also deepened ties with the Columbian regime, signing agreements to swell the numbers of US forces on Latin American soil. [10]

Obama has blocked any attempted prosecutions against the credibly accused war criminals of the Bush administration, affording impunity to those law professors such as John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales who provided the Whitehouse with pseudo-legal justifications for torture and hostage taking. John Yoo, a Berkley law professor had justified “crushing a child’s testicles” if they were deemed to be a member of the opaque “Axis of Evil.” Obama has blocked numerous attempts to have Yoo apprehended.
Bush’s colonial policy against the people of Afghanistan – killing Pashtun Tribesmen and women (the “Taliban”) - has not “changed” but rather has intensified under the auspices of the President of War Barack Obama. Obama has ordered the construction of a series of permanent bases across the devastated country. According to Secretary Gates, Obama’s new bases are to be “permanent” colonial outposts not temporary military bases. Obama’s imperial policy against the emerging powers of Russian and China is merely an extension of Cold War policy. Obama is placing missiles across Russia’s boarder claiming that they are an attempt to “counter Iran” which he spuriously claims poses “a real threat” to the US and Europe despite the International Atomic Energy Agency concluding that Iran has no nuclear weapons program unlike the Pakistan, Britain, Israel and a number of other client states of the American Empire. Obama’s April 5th speech in Prague, which was marketed by Obama’s media accomplices as an “anti-nuclear” speech, was in fact crude propaganda masking the immense proliferation of nuclear weapons by the Obama administration. According to journalist John Pilger: “the US is building new “tactical” nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war". [11]

The Big Lie propagated by Brand Obama was the election promise that US troops were to be withdrawn from the country the empire destroyed and turned into a sectarian blood bath, namely Iraq. On the one hand Obama’s media accomplices claim that troops are to be withdrawn imminently, while on the other hand the US military websites state that 70,000 troops will remain in Iraq “for the next 15 or 20 years.” This long term strategy for Iraq has also been insinuated by Hillary Clinton in a speech on April 25th. Worse, the “world’s number one war criminal” Henry Kissinger is now an adviser to Obama which indicates the kind of murderous policies which can be expected from the Obama administration in the near future (see: Christopher Hitchens “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” [12].

Where is the “change” pledged in Obama’s election campaign? And more importantly where is the dissent from the Left who formed the majority of the Peace movement during the Bush years?

The best people to ask about the manifestation of Brand Obama would undoubtedly be the Afghan villagers who are victims of Obama’s terrorist attacks, 150 of whom lye dead this month already, or the 700 innocent Pakistani villagers who have been murdered this year by Obama’s unmanned drones, or the family of the seven month old Palestinian baby who died the day before Obama’s “historic speech” in Cairo [13] because his parents had been denied a permit by Obama-sponsored Israeli occupiers to take their baby to a hospital in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) where his lung infection could have easily been cured. In Obama’s inane speech in Cairo the only criticism he offered of Israel’s unlawful regime was: “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements . . . It is time for these settlements to stop.” He offered no utterance of the fact that each year in the chambers of the United Nations, the whole world (approximately 180 states) vote against Israel’s illegal settlements - demanding the immediate withdrawal to the pre-1967 boarders - with the only opposition to Palestinian self-determination coming from the US, Israel, Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and a few South Sea island quazi-colonies such as Guam and Micronesia. There was no mention from Obama of, what Uri Davis (a Jewish Palestinian elected member of Fatah) calls Israel’s “Apartheid Wall” which was declared illegal and to be dismantled by the highest judicial authority in the world – The World Court – in a vote 13-1. Indeed there was no apology or acknowledgment in the so called ‘historic speech’ about the US and its client state’s illegal war against the Islamic world which has taken the lives of millions of people and which is intensifying, not dissipating, under Obama’s so far rapacious presidency.

Amazingly the Left, the traditional opponents of imperialism and racism, appear to have been duped by Brand Obama. The pro-Obama propaganda seems regrettably to have stultified and stupefied vast swathes of the Peace movement. ‘Liberals’ in academia treat Obama as if he is Antonio Gramsci [14] and supposedly progressive media outlets have been genuflecting before the postmodern president focusing only on issues of race rather than the most significant form of discrimination - class. Naomi Klein’s dissenting article in this month’s Harper’s magazine is notably rare among the Left and perhaps offers a glimpse of hope for those of us who seek a continuation of opposition to the imperial crusaders and their atrophy of democracy and freedom.

The question which nobody wants to ask is this: If Obama was Caucasian would people be granting him such immunity from criticism?

Is Obama oblivious to his divergence from the philosophy of the Civil Rights Movement whose actions allowed him to be where he is today? Or was Brand Obama merely a corporate-manufactured façade aimed at furthering the interests of the war profiteers and their overseas client states? Journalist Lee Sustar characterizes Brand Obama tersely: “It’s an attempt to revive an unpopular free-market, pro-business agenda behind the leadership of someone whose personal history suggests an affinity with the exploited and oppressed.” I propose we treat Obama with the necessary contempt and suspicion that all leaders of empires deserve until he reverses his war policies and provides tangible justifications for our respect.

[1Burmese Days, by George Orwell

[2Buying the Obama Brand by Chris Hedges, Dandelionsalad Wordpress; May 4, 2009; and Obama’s 100 days, by John Pilger, Voltaire Network; 30 April 2009.

[3AFRICOM: Pentagon’s First Direct Military Intervention In Africa, by Rick Rozoff, Voltaire Network; 25 August 2009.

[4Lebensraum translates as living or vital space. As ratified in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles after World War I, the Allies (France, Russia, America and Britain) appropriated great swathes of German land. Alsace-Lorraine went to France, Malmedy went to Belgium and most of Posen and West Prussia went to Poland. Hitler decided that there would not be enough room for the German population to live, so he invaded the East. This policy was known as ’Lebensraum’.

[5Cocaine politics: drugs, armies, and the CIA in Central America, by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall

[6See Patriots Questions 9/11 for more detailed information.


[10US military base plan fuels Latin American tensions, by Bill Van Auken; Voltaire Network; 5 August 2009.


[14Antonio Gramsci (1891 - 1937) was a leading Italian Marxist, a founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy who spent his last eleven years in Mussolini’s prisons. The central and guiding theme of his writings was the development of a new Marxist theory applicable to the conditions of advanced capitalism.