Obama’s legacy: Trump and the renaissance of Western fascism
With his term in office running out, Obama, who’s spent the past seven years worrying more about his “legacy” than his policies, would like to be remembered for his presidential Kodak moments – the Obamacare, the wonderful speeches, the ‘legacy deals’ with the leaders in Cuba and Iran, and of course his partnership with Putin in pursuit of “peace in our time” in Syria.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and Putin’s Russia are, of course, just two of the totalitarian regimes which Obama has immeasurably empowered, although he’d understandably prefer to leave the resulting cataclysmic meltdown of partnership in genocide, regional sectarian war, global tumult and the worst humanitarian catastrophe in modern history off his presidential CV, with Western media helpfully enthusiastic as always in assisting him to do so.
Unlike Western media, Syrians won’t forget the vast debt of gratitude owed to Obama by Khamenei’s and Putin’s satrap Assad, who exposed the US leader who put the PR into President as the glib, ineffectual, untrustworthy, morally bankrupt liar that he is. Assad is living proof that not only can dictators literally get away with mass murder but be handsomely rewarded for genocide. Dictators and totalitarian regimes globally have taken note of this ringing, tacit endorsement from the leader of the ‘free world’.
When Obama came to power in 2009, it all appeared so different as the world let out a collective sigh of relief after the neocon nightmare of the Bush ‘n’ Blair years. Finally, it seemed, the US had a president who would end the screeching insanity of the War on Terror and herald a new, genuinely liberal and progressive age of hope and advancement. In the Middle East in 2009, he offered real hope to peoples across a region long crushed under savage totalitarian and supremacist regimes with a great speech in Cairo broadcast live and watched avidly by tens of millions clustered round TV sets from Tunis to Tikrit, in which he said to thunderous applause that freedom, justice, the rule of law “are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere.” There was a palpable sense of jubilation in Arab nations – finally an American leader who understood, who cared, who stood with the oppressed not the oppressors.
Seven years on, those great words about universal support for freedom and human rights ring very hollow indeed, and hope has been replaced by the bitter taste of betrayal. Rather than ending the War of Terror, Obama outsourced and expanded it beyond the wildest wet dreams of Bush and Cheney, to the point where it’s now a global “holy” alliance with Putin and sundry other autocratic tyrants; any tinpot despot wishing to silence any dissent has only to murmur darkly about “The ISIS Threat” to be given carte blanche, with Abu Bakr al Baghdadi now serving as the ideal turbaned Emmanuel Goldstein for every Big Brother’s police state.
The idea of support for universal human rights, meanwhile, has been quietly shelved by the Obama administration in favour of the more traditional Washington backing for savage totalitarianism and genocidal dictatorship, with Egyptians now nostalgic for the ‘good old days’ of Mubarak compared to the brutal tyranny of Sisi.
As Obama prepares to move out of the White House into which he was cheered with such great hope, the only people now feeling hopeful and advancing by leaps and bounds are fascist demagogues, would-be and existing dictators and totalitarian regimes worldwide, along with their admirers. Can they change the dominant Western worldview to an eager embrace of fascist ideologies long believed thankfully dead and buried? Yes They Can, and oh boy are they ever.
It’s quite fitting in a way that a president whose veneer of progressive liberal values was stripped off to reveal a plain old toady to tyrants seems likely to hand over power to a fascist demagogue who wouldn’t have stood a chance without Obama’s own feckless policies giving his incoherent far-right bar boor’s ramblings an air of legitimacy. Had Obama acted to help the FSA to oust Assad, it’s unlikely that Daesh could have got a foothold in Syria or that Putin would have seen and gleefully exploited his chance to reshape the region and the world in his own authoritarian image. If Obama had made good on his ‘red lines’ and helped eject Assad in 2013, millions of Syrians in turn wouldn’t have felt driven by relentless bombing and siege to flee their country, triggering the hysterical Western xenophobia – enthusiastically encouraged by Putin - that is fascists’ Miracle-Gro.
Surely – ironically - there could be no more appropriate legacy for Obama, the ‘progressive’ president who turned out to be more responsible than any other, left or right, for empowering fascism and giving new life to tyrants and totalitarian regimes globally, than to be the leader who empowered one domestically? Having left a monstrous legacy in Syria and the Middle East, a President Trump would be Obama’s most fitting legacy for the USA, with Obama leaving to America a small taste of the catastrophic horror he’s left to the Syrian and other Arab peoples.