2011-11-17 The Hypocrisy of a President

Authored by Sam.

“Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have”.

On the 17th of November 2011 US President Barack Obama addressed the Australian House of Representatives and while well intentioned, the hypocrisy is impossible to ignore.

At present, the United States domesticity plays host to a historically significant protest movement and its executive branch has been the swiftest of any, to trample dissenting whistle-blowers. Its interest in exterminating voices of dissent is plainer now than ever and the thunderous applause at the conclusion of his speech illuminate for all to see, the profound indifference of our elected leaders to this disingenuous rhetoric and unacceptable official conduct.

If Obama truly believed what he says then recent history would be starkly different.

“We stand for an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and people are upheld. Where international law and norms are enforced.”[1] Surely then, he must be standing on some shaky ground. A President so steadfast in his commitment to the rights of other nations and their people in the international system, simply would not do and continue to do what he has done.

Let's speak of the symbol of international order, the United Nations. Unfortunately for them, in 2009 Obama's administration was not so convinced of its own wish for a respected international order. The Guardian reports: “A classified directive which appears to blur the line between diplomacy and spying was issued to US diplomats under Hillary Clinton's name in July 2009, demanding forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks for official communications.”[2] That sounds to me like a Government more concerned with personal advantage than international equality in the system.

Continuing, Obama remarks: “[we] seek economies that are open and transparent.” If only that were so! As I write this document, Wikileaks continues to be under what, for all intents and purposes, is an illegitimate, illegal financial blockade by some of the biggest players in the so-called “open and transparent” economy. Despite the clearly extra-judicial conduct Obama, a man who when faced with an economic reality running precisely counter to his ideal, says not a word. This cowardice means that as an Australian I cannot support an organisation whose values I personally respect and whose work has led to the betterment of our global society. This cowardice means that an organisation that has won an Amnesty International Prize for its work, may soon go under. This cowardice means that moral authority of the Government which Obama represents stands eroding in the eyes of the global citizenry. I borrow Obama's own words when I say that “[I] seek an open international economic system where rules are clear and every nation plays by them”. Readers should note his words, even if he does not act on them, when he remarks: “prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty.”

The most obviously facetious comments come towards the end of his remarks when he says to Members of The House: “[t]he final area where we are leading [is in] our support for the fundamental rights of every human being”. He makes this dishonest claim whilst his Government is responsible for detaining accused Wikileaks source Bradley Manning for over 500 days without trial. A Government too, that continues to operate one of the most disgusting prisons on our earth's surface. Guantanamo Bay.

Guantanamo, “according to leading Habeas Corpus lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights” is a place where "systematic denial of Red Cross access to prisoners remains. The use of dogs remains. Segregation and isolation are still used routinely and systematically – including an initial period of at least 4 weeks to enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganisation [sic] felt by a newly arrived detainee', only terminated at the behest of interrogators” and even the basic necessity toilet paper is “still regarded as a luxury 'comfort item'”[3].

Obama asserts: “it is also true that certain rights are universal, among them freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and the freedom of citizens to choose their own leaders.” On all counts Obama undermines these apparently universal human rights either through his desire to not deal with past injustice or simply due to giving his consent to the continuation of counter-intuitive policy.

Wikileaks and the Occupy Wall Street movement together constitute the clear example of Obama's hypocrisy. Citizens asserting their freedom of assembly and speech are unwontedly censored, attacked and demonized by Government officials and by “media organisations” more accurately described as “propaganda organisations” - and a small non-profit publishing organisation, Wikileaks, is denied their supposedly incontrovertible freedom to publish - both through attempts to shut it down directly as well as extra-judicial financial muzzling, as previously alluded to. The man who has taken on the charge of being its public face has paid dearly for it. There have been threats on his life from numerous quarters both high up the political strata and in the mainstream and his home Government is all too ready to oblige those wanting to see the idea of his imprisonment for his work with Wikileaks, become a reality. His and Wikileaks' service to us all has been in exposing the oft ignored or unseen networked, systematized attack on our democratic freedoms. It has exposed as a falsehood the democratic truths we once held to be self evident and in continuing to pretend that they exist despite this, Obama too has exposed himself as a liar.

He is exposed a liar in claiming that the US "encourage[s] open government, because democracies depend on an informed and active citizenry”. This exposure is a result of his actions in response to a world event that legitimately enhances this principle. Namely, the recent disclosures by Wikileaks of the United States diplomatic cables as well as the true historical record of the two most recent wars this world is engaged in. Obama said it best when he stated in his speech: “an activist remains unbowed, imprisoned in his home, just to have the same rights we cherish here today”. He didn't intend to speak of Julian but we are often blind to the most uncomfortable truths.

Stand tall Wikileaks. Stand resolute Occupy Wall Street. The tokenism of the President of The United States is not empty for those who, with conviction, truly and honestly act on them. Take heed of the fact that, as he says: “History is on the side of the free - free societies, free governments, free economies, free people. And the future belongs to those who stand firm for these ideals, in this region and around the world.” “Across a vast ocean, it's impossible to know what lies beyond the horizon. But if this vast region and its people teach us anything, it's that the yearning for liberty and progress will not be denied.”

With luck, one day, Obama will read and not just “read” the speeches he gives. May he find in himself the honesty to see the contradictions he and his administrations repeat straight-faced. In the meantime, please donate to Wikileaks. Their new fund-raising drive is of critical importance to the continuation of their commendable mission and please also, support and join the citizens movement, Occupy. Demonstrate through your presence, that the hypocrisy of a President does not extend to his people. For, as Assange has said: “every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love.”[4]

You can't evict an idea whose time has come.


[1] http://www.smh.com.au/national/text-of-obamas-speech-to-parliament-20111...

[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-spying-un

[3] http://web.archive.org/web/20071206120849/http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Changes_in_Guantanamo_Bay_SOP_manual_(2003-2004)

[4] http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/367059

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