Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Biden Inauguration: Will He Prove Better than "America's Worst Ever President"?

As America prepares for Joe Biden's inauguration, the crowds are thinner than usual, due to Covid-19 - and probably due to security concerns. 25,000 national guards have been deployed to the US Capitol to ensure a peaceful transition of power. The atmosphere is subdued, but the world is breathing a collective sigh of relief that Trump is departing, while praying his extremist supporters do not cause trouble. The last thing today needs is more violence.

America is ridding itself of a fascist, a would-be dictator, of that there is no doubt. And people are saying he was America's worst ever president. But now his presidency is over, we can only assess what Trump did in office, rather than what he might have done. And to find worse in that regard, you don't have to go back very far at all.

First of all, let's not diminish Trump's many crimes - his Muslim ban was outrageous, his locking up of children monstrous (but let's not forget Biden built those cages), his Covid mishandling a shocking betrayal, and his attempt at insurrection was frankly pathetic. Trump did many terrible things in office and his conduct was an embarrassment, but the hard truth is other presidents have done even more damage. They've just done most of their damage elsewhere.

Let's take Trump's predecessor, for example, liberal hero Barack Obama. 

Initially I was a huge Obama fan. I'm embarrassed to say I was caught up in the hype like so many others. When Obama was sworn into office in 2008, the world breathed a collective sigh of relief as they are doing today. Obama was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize without doing anything, on the basis he was not George Bush jr.

It all started so well. Obama began bringing troops home. He was saying all the right things. And then he dropped more bombs than George Bush jr, including 26,171 bombs on Syria in 2016 alone (72 a day), creating a vacuum which was filled by ISIS.

You can credit Obama all you want for undoing some of Bush's economic damage, for bringing healthcare to millions, for looking statesman-like on the world stage. He was certainly good at PR, but under the pretence of countering terrorism, Obama went on a drone-bombing rampage, obliterating mountain villages in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other parts of the middle-east.

Children in the mountain villages lived in constant terror. Every time they heard the hum of a drone, they did not know if their village would be vaporised next. I remember reading a serialisation in The Guardian where they published updates from a teenage boy living in one such village. Within a matter of weeks, the boy and his village were gone. Vaporised. Just like that.

His life mattered. All their lives mattered.

In his attempts to eradicate terrorism, Obama became a terrorist himself, regardless of what you may think of his intentions. His crimes exceed those of Donald Trump and you can only disagree with that statement if you see lives in the middle-east as being less valuable than those elsewhere. Obama committed countless acts of terrorism, aided and abetted by his vice president, Joe Biden.

If you want to find another president who did more damage than Trump, look no further than Obama's predecessor, George Bush jr - a man who has since had his reputation rehabilitated by... the Obamas! In truth, there was never a huge moral or ideological chasm between Obama and the Republicans who started two illegal wars, killing one million people and maiming countless others. Indeed, Obama said himself he would've been considered a Republican in the 1980s.

Obama and Bush were part of the same imperial war machine, and if you go back to Bush's predecessor Bill Clinton, you will find another cut from the same cloth - a man who among other crimes, vaporised Africa's largest medicine factory and nearby school on a whim. 

Indeed, if you go back through 100 years of American presidents, you will find mass-murdering psychopath after mass-murdering psychopath. Men who decimated the middle-east, who committed genocide in Vietnam and other places, who were responsible for coup after coup in Latin America, who helped themselves to the world's resources. 

And now the US has a president who has always been supportive of these types of "interventions," the kind of guy who is understood to be eyeing up the world's largest oil reserves in Venezuela. I detect another coup incoming...

Are Americans really okay with coups as long as they are happening abroad?

America loves to hail itself the greatest nation on Earth, the greatest democracy in the history of humankind. So how about some more wars - the kind of wars Joe Biden seems reluctant to fight?

How about leaving Venezuela alone and instead declaring war on the greatest enemy humankind has ever faced - the climate crisis? Joe Biden actually went to great pains to distance himself from the Green New Deal during his presidential campaign. 

So is the climate crisis too great a foe for the "world's greatest nation" to take on? Are we really going to pretend half-measures will be sufficient to save the planet? Would we have fought the Nazis with half-measures and self-delusion? Of course not! It's time for America to show its greatness...

And while it's at it, how about the "beacon of democracy" declares war on corporate donors, big pharma, big oil, and the corruption which has engulfed the US political system? How about saying fuck you to insurance companies and providing all American people with healthcare? How about ending poverty and homelessness? Abolishing student debt and making education a right, not a privilege? 

America has been boasting for 52 years about putting a man on the moon, about achieving the impossible. It likes to be perceived as the world's police force. It loves to talk about liberating people abroad. How about Joe Biden liberates his own people? Maybe then he will become the progressive hero brainwashed Democrats are already claiming him to be, rather than a corrupt liberal paving the way for another Trump.

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email: r.d.hale@outlook.com