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Obama: The Extremists’ Nightmare

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Posted on Apr 8, 2009

By Joe Conason

In America’s struggle against the extremists and terrorists epitomized by al-Qaida, the strategic imperatives are to divide the enemy and neutralize their base. Fortunately for the United States and its allies, the new American president understands how to do that—and is uniquely suited to accomplish the mission.

If in the aftermath of 9/11 Western intelligence agencies had tried to conceive of a leader whose background would enable him to engage the world’s Muslims, they might have imagined someone like Barack Hussein Obama. Most analysts would naturally assume that such a person could never become president of the United States, but if they allowed themselves to imagine an ideal spokesman for American values, he might well have looked like the man elected last November.

Touring the ancient Ottoman capital of Istanbul, Obama stood as a living refutation of extremist propaganda before he spoke a single word. Son and grandson of African Muslims, he symbolizes what is often called “American exceptionalism”—the durable belief that the United States is the world’s hope to escape the old and bloody divisions that have been so ruinous for humanity over the centuries.

He rose through an open and democratic process, despite the legacy of racism and the vicious smears that denigrated his Christian faith while depicting him as a secret adherent of radical Islam. His middle name, uttered with a sneer by bigots during the campaign, is now an important asset (especially among the Shiites in Iran, Iraq and elsewhere). He personally embodies the message that America bears no ill intentions toward Muslims or their nations.

The previous administration’s inability to broadcast that message effectively was among its most salient and least noted failures. While American policy in the Mideast has often angered Muslims—not without reason in places from Israel to Iran—the United States has other and more inspiring stories to tell as well. American soldiers were dispatched to protect the people of Kosovo from their Serbian oppressors, who portrayed the conflict there as a centuries-old clash between Christianity and Islam.

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Meanwhile, millions of Muslim-Americans live peacefully here, under the protection of a constitution that guarantees their religious freedom. And when those rights have been violated, fellow Americans of every persuasion have come to their defense.

No doubt Obama meant to emphasize those aspects of American life in his Istanbul speech, addressing Turkish students and young people across the developing world who long to believe again that the United States stands for equality, fairness and decency. That belief was impossible to sustain during a decade of war, destruction and torture. Now the burden is on the president to revive latent admiration for our country and our values.

The president’s diplomatic efforts resonate with special strength in Europe as well as across the Mideast, Africa and Asia precisely because he does not claim that his own beloved nation is without fault or flaw. He doesn’t pretend that American exceptionalism means American perfection. When he rebukes anti-American prejudice abroad, as he did at a town hall meeting in the French city of Strasbourg, his credibility is enhanced by honest acknowledgment of our mistakes.

While he returns home to remarkably strong and consistent support from most Americans, right-wing commentators relentlessly attempt to portray him as unworthy of trust and deficient in patriotism. They dishonestly truncate his speeches abroad, slicing out his defense of the United States and his rejection of anti-American propaganda, while headlining his candor about our flaws. They accuse him of apologizing for the war on terrorism, of “submission” to America’s adversaries and of “blaming America first” in seeking personal popularity abroad. They stand for policies that have brought us to the lowest stature in our history, and they have nothing to offer, no policy or plan, except lies and deceptions.

The remarkable popularity of Obama across the world is not an artifact of anti-American sentiment, but its opposite—namely, the hope that America will again stand for liberal traditions of generosity and cooperation. Now he has made a beginning.

Joe Conason writes for The New York Observer.

    © 2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, April 11, 2009 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

Re garth, April 10 at 10:15 am #

“Dr. Jones and Company wrote a rigorous scientific examination of the dust remaining from the 911 attacks concerning the, “Active Thermitic Material… ”

x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x

garth,

For anybody who is interested in an intelligent discussion of this issue instead of delivering half-baked opinions should read this article, which seems to me clear and understandable to anyone with a college education, the whole paper is available for download as a PDF at:

http://www.bentham-open.org/pages/content.php?TOCPJ/2009/00000002/00000001/7TOCPJ.SGM

Here is the abstract:

We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples we have studied of the dust produced by the destruction of the World Trade Center. Examination of four of these samples, collected from separate sites, is reported in this paper. These red/gray chips show marked similarities in all four samples. One sample was collected by a Manhattan resident about ten minutes after the collapse of the second WTC Tower, two the next day, and a fourth about a week later. The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The red material contains grains approximately 100 nm across which are largely iron oxide, while aluminum is contained in tiny plate-like structures. Separation of components using methyl ethyl ketone demonstrated that elemental aluminum is present. The iron oxide and aluminum are intimately mixed in the red material. When ignited in a DSC device the chips exhibit large but narrow exotherms occurring at approximately 430 °C, far below the normal ignition temperature for conventional thermite. Numerous iron-rich spheres are clearly observed in the residue following the ignition of these peculiar red/gray chips. The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, April 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

WASHINGTON—As part of the agency’s decades-long tradition of initiation, rookie CIA director Leon Panetta was gagged, blindfolded, and placed inside a large storage container bound for the war-torn capital of Afghanistan Friday. “You should have seen him—he was all, ‘Guys, this isn’t funny! Guys?’” outgoing director Michael Hayden said. “I can’t wait to see the satellite photos of his face after they make him eat six goldfish, spin him around, and subject him to the aggressive interrogation techniques of Jalaluddin Haqqani. Plus, we wrote ‘I Hate Arabs’ all over his face in permanent marker.” Although the 10 masked men who kidnapped Panetta from his Langley, VA office reportedly stripped him down before packing him into the cargo hold, sources said they did give him $10,000 cash and a 9 mm pistol.

—The Onion

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By mill, April 11, 2009 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment

seems posters have id’d two sources of worrisome influence on public policy

Wall Street Insiders leading the clean-up of their mess

Military-Industrial Complex People .... like some falsely labelling as a cut the 4% INCREASE in military spending in Obama’s administration

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, April 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

Re garth, April 11 at 4:44 pm #

“I think they bitch-slapped Obama and told him to sit in the back and shut-up.”

garth,

I’m very much worried that you’re right. I fear that Obama is caving in to the military-industrial complex and its gangsters in our intelligence services.

But it’s too early to tell.

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By garth, April 11, 2009 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

From the Guardian.co.uk, the following paragraph indicates that the CIA and British security firms are involved in Somalia. 
“Dramatic evidence that America is involved in illegal mercenary operations in east Africa has emerged in a string of confidential emails seen by The Observer. The leaked communications between US private military companies suggest the CIA had knowledge of the plans to run covert military operations inside Somalia - against UN rulings - and they hint at involvement of British security firms.”
Furthermore, a Somalian has reported that the U.S. press is not reporting the story correctly.  He said well organized groups are paying the impoverished Somalians to attempt these brazen acts of piracy. 
This Captain Phillips could be another pawn just like that Arizona Cardinals football player was in Afghanistan.

I think they bitch-slapped Obama and told him to sit in the back and shut-up.

If the only positive factor that comes out of his Presidency is the fact that a black man was elected President, then, I can predict with almost certainty that he’ll be the last black elected for a long, long time.  That is, if there are any more honest elections.  After 2000 and 2004, that question is problematic.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 11, 2009 at 4:50 am Link to this comment

Paracelsus, April 11 at 6:06 am #

Inherit The Wind

“The extremists, left and right, never see reality but keep seeing their fantasy shit and keep acting on it like it’s true.”

Does David Gergen know that he is being plagiarized? Then again it does have Cokie Roberts ring to it.
**************************

Really? Did D-G or C-R say that?  I knew they were both really smart and perceptive…..

BTW, for it to be plagiarism I would have to directly quote them without citation AND be using it for personal gain—like getting a good grade in a class or getting paid for it, or depriving them of income. 

But since I’m doing none of those, and you don’t have a quote to compare it to, your accusation of “Plagiarism!” means you just pulled that right out of your @$$.  “Sounds like something Cokie Roberts would say” does not constitute evidence of plagiarism. 

Inadvertently paraphrasing someone in a post on a blog would not constitute plagiarism.  And one would have to be a real $#!t to imply it does.

Sound like anyone we know?

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By Paracelsus, April 11, 2009 at 3:06 am Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind

“The extremists, left and right, never see reality but keep seeing their fantasy shit and keep acting on it like it’s true.”

Does David Gergen know that he is being plagiarized? Then again it does have Cokie Roberts ring to it.

Report this

By Clark, April 11, 2009 at 2:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama’s appointees, with a few exceptions, look like a who’s who of wall street and AIPAC loyalists.
“Change”?
I think not.
Shut down the “FED”.
Shut down the stock markets.
Hold Israel accountable.
Stop supporting brutal dictators.
Pull out of the WTO, the IMF, & the World Bank.
Throw the boards of directors of the military industrial corporations in prison [after a fair trial].
Make the International Declaration of Human Rights the law of the land.
Reopen 9/11 as an international criminal investigation.

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, April 10, 2009 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment

On the other hand, maybe there is some kind of deep strategy going on that has not become clear. According to this article, the Obama administration is just looking for a way out.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KD10Ak04.html

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, April 10, 2009 at 11:04 pm Link to this comment

I am worried that Obama and Leon Panetta are getting rolled by the intelligence services who are resisting any investigation into Bush administration crimes in which they were active participants. I am very worried about Af/Pak. Obama cannot tolerate what is going on there for very long without turning his whole anti-war base against him, including me.

http://news.antiwar.com/2009/04/09/us-admits-troops-killed-afghanistan-mother-children/

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By J W Burnem, April 10, 2009 at 11:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

WOW, it’s nice to see some good writings about a President that has been handed such a mercurial economy and, I might add, world, in a hand-basket.  Some are hoping President Obama fails.  They either don’t care about America, or are so myopic, they can’t see the repercussions of failure for America.

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By garth, April 10, 2009 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

PS Smith says it all.  These numbers stand in stark relief to the rhetoric of Barack Hussein Obama “as he gently touched down.”
His message just tells the Muslims that the hegemonic empire builders of the USA-Great Britain cabal are no longer interested in the Middle East, at least, for now.  In fact, the State Department has been forewarned of Binyamin the Yahoo’s recalcitrance in any upcoming negotiations.  The Wall Street-City of London gang have bigger fish to fry.
They are building up the number of unmanned aircraft in the arsenal and creating an inicident in Somalia with the kidnapping of the ship’s captain.  The Maersk line was the shipping company used by the Bush family in their support of Hitler’s build-up of war materiel that preceded WWII.  Now, the ploy is to send more warships to the area purportedly to protect shipping lanes when in fact the war toys are being put in place to get ready for a major incident with the Chinese who get a lot of their oil from Africa.  The goal is isolate China from its energy source leaving them only one alternative, the oil and gas in eastern Russia.  Africa might be the next Iraq on a grand scale.
As far as Al Quaeda goes, that’s the Big Lie.  Even the FBI never charged bin Laden with the 9/11 attacks.  “A Dutch TV jury has found Osama bin Laden not guilty of the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Dr. Jones and Company wrote a rigorous scientific examination of the dust remaining from the 911 attacks concerning the, “Active Thermitic Material… ”
American exceptionalism! That is what we should be trying to root out of our system.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 10, 2009 at 4:25 am Link to this comment

That’s what I love about America.  The extremists, left and right, never see reality but keep seeing their fantasy shit and keep acting on it like it’s true.

1) Amazingly, after being in office less than 3 months Obama has managed to achieve the first positive signs of turning the worst economic crash in 80 years around.  This is despite the fact that this crash was “planned” since the Reagan Revolution began undermining safeguards.  Point: The collapse of the Stock Market seems to have stemmed and settled into the 7-8000 range. Point: the rate of jobs being lost has slowed, albeit slightly, but unexpectedly when it was supposed to get worse.  Point: Banks are starting to lend again, not as much, not as fast and not even what’s needed for business operations, but more.

Nobody with any brains expects the economy to heal in AT BEST less than a year, more like 3-5 years.

2) International relations have turned a MAJOR corner.  Rather than Botch’s tyrannic and idiotic “You’re with us or against us” Obama and Clinton are showing the world that the adults and the realists are back in charge.  People are at least willing to TALK where they wouldn’t under Botch. Iran is willing to talk. Venezuela is willing to talk. Cuba is willing to talk. China and France, two royal pains diplomatically, are not only willing to talk, but willing to talk to each other with Obama’s help.  Major breakthroughs? Of course not yet.  But you can’t get them if you can’t talk. You work out little things, develop a method of cooperation (say, on the Somali pirates), then use that method of cooperation on bigger, more difficult issues.

3) Domestic tyranny.  Here Holder, working for Obama, has made major reversals.  I’d like to see more, but some of the problems are that suits are filed against AGENCIES, not the Botch @$$holes who created the situation and now Obama appointees have to defend their agencies against these suits.  Still, we can look at Guantanamo closing now, and, hopefully, an end to Botch’s destruction of the Constitution.

4) Iraq and Afghanistan.  We all see the criminally immoral mess Botch made in both places and Obama is stuck with them.  But he’s not sticking to the Botch-Moron policy and is deliberately and distinctly moving away from it.

Again, the man’s only been in charge for 2 1/2 months and he’s made INCREDIBLY good progress on major issues.  Anyone who thought he’d have them all solved by now is a fool.

Yet the right and left extremist all keep tearing Obama down because he won’t follow either side’s proven-to-fail policies.  And I, for one, am thankful for that.

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By Paracelsus, April 9, 2009 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

Al Qaida, Joe? What Al Qaida? Bin Laden has been dead for years. He even disavowed having anything to do with 9-11. Mr. Conasen, you are well paid in order to utter absurdities. Perhaps you need defenestration, though I would not recommend throwing you out of a window as happened in Prague in 1618. I am just asking that a window on your mind be opened so that you get some fresh air.

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By JFoster2k, April 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Joe.

Great article. It’s truth and candor are even more evident when FT distorts it.

Obama is doing what none of his predecessors could. He has put a new face on America and opened the door to mid-east diplomacy. The neocons will criticize and demonize him no matter what he does. Considering how well he was received overseas and how popular he is at home, the more his opposition screeches, the less credible they reveal themselves to be.

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By AnalogKid, April 9, 2009 at 11:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nothing has changed, we just have a representative that doesn’t make people puke when he opens his mouth. 

But the empire building will continue as planned. 

It is easy to look good compared to Bush.

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By voice of truth, April 9, 2009 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

Shouldn’t this fairy tale of a story be on a website devoted to fiction?  But I guess the Moslem world will respect the US when the freakin President bows to the Saudi king.  Are you kiddin me??

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By Inherit The Wind, April 9, 2009 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

jackpine savage, April 9 at 8:17 am #

ITW,

You may have a point, but when an article starts off like this:

In America’s struggle against the extremists and terrorists epitomized by al-Qaida

then everything that comes after it sounds like propaganda BS…no matter what is actually said.
******************************

LOL!  You do have a point there!

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Paul_GA's avatar

By Paul_GA, April 9, 2009 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

Can you say, “Predators”?

Far from being a nightmare for extremists, Obama, I think, is playing into their hands with his pretending to be for “change” while retaining the “same old same”.

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By jackpine savage, April 9, 2009 at 5:17 am Link to this comment

ITW,

You may have a point, but when an article starts off like this:

In America’s struggle against the extremists and terrorists epitomized by al-Qaida

then everything that comes after it sounds like propaganda BS…no matter what is actually said.

Report this

By Inherit The Wind, April 9, 2009 at 4:36 am Link to this comment

Folktruther, April 9 at 4:03 am #

Conason sketches precisely the public relations reasons that the American ruling power structure helped put Obama in office to rehabilitate Bushite policies.  He looks and sounds good on tv, and his skin colar and Muslim name is worth billions abroad.  For a while.  When people realize how they have been conned, the opposition against him will deepen and broaden.
************************

(yawn…) Same old, same old….Marxist confident absolutist predictions of the future that always come true….in the Marxists’ dreams.

I can confidently predict that FT will keep confidently making these predictions and when they consistently fail to come true will confidently make new ones.  New ones and consistent with the old ones in that they are…erroneous.

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By Folktruther, April 9, 2009 at 1:03 am Link to this comment

Conason sketches precisely the public relations reasons that the American ruling power structure helped put Obama in office to rehabilitate Bushite policies.  He looks and sounds good on tv, and his skin colar and Muslim name is worth billions abroad.  For a while.  When people realize how they have been conned, the opposition against him will deepen and broaden.

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By P. T., April 8, 2009 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

We will find out if Obama is the extremists’ nightmare when he deals with Israel’s new and extremist government.

The U.S.‘s problem in the Mideast is not poor public relations.  The problem is U.S. policies.

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