If we look at his "agenda" as stated on the whitehouse.gov website we see with more clarity that while in some respects he is a slight improvement of Bush, the differences are miniscule.
And while he issues "executive orders" rescinding some of Bush’s it is worth pointing out as some have that Bush had no more the constitutional authority to legislate than Obama does. David Swanson recently wrote:
President Bush also signed executive orders and ordered the creation of legal opinions claiming that torture was legal. President Obama’s new order revokes one of Bush’s. But Obama has no more right to undo the legalization of torture than Bush had to legalize it in the first place. Only Congress has or should have the power to legislate. Obama’s new order requires adherence to laws, rather than claiming the right to violate them, and yet there is a wide gap between publishing an order requiring adherence to the laws and actually enforcing the laws by indicting violators.
Obama on Iraq:
"Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. They will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism."
President Nixon used a similar strategy in Vietnam. By changing the names to "advisors" or "a residual force" to "train and support the Iraqi security forces" we are just playing semantics.
"Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that the U.S. must apply pressure on the Iraqi government to work toward real political accommodation."
Why do they "believe" the US has the authority or the right to "apply pressure" on any government in their political arena? How would we respond to other nations saying they "believe" they "apply pressure on the [US] government to work toward real political accommodation"?
"Barack Obama and Joe Biden will launch an aggressive diplomatic effort to reach a comprehensive compact on the stability of Iraq and the region… This compact will aim to… keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq…"
The US will meddle not only in Iraq’s affairs but the regions as a whole and then boast about the need for others not to "meddle"?
"Obama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need."
This is a blatant admission that our presence is illegal. The vast majority of the country does not want us there and we seek legal protections to keep our soldiers "immune" from the unlawful orders they have been given.
Obama on Defense:
"President Obama and Vice President Biden will invest in a 21st century military to maintain our conventional advantage while increasing our capacity to defeat the threats of tomorrow."
"We must preserve our unparalleled airpower capabilities to deter and defeat any conventional competitors, swiftly respond to crises across the globe, and support our ground forces."
"The Obama-Biden Administration will restore American leadership on space issues, seeking a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites."
Readers may note a common theme throughout this section: maintain dominance. The language is revealing. We are 5% of the world yet we spend more than half of the world’s military budget and have bases all over the world. And Obama wants to maintain this. This is an imperial presidency just like Bush and several others before him.
Obama on Nuclear Weapons:
"Obama and Biden will crack down on nuclear proliferation by strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that countries like North Korea and Iran that break the rules will automatically face strong international sanctions."
Iran is not breaking the rules. The NPT does not forbid them to have nuclear power and the IAEA has routinely said Iran’s program is not at the level for weapons purposes. Contrast this with the US being in violation of the treaty ever since. We have not proactively seeked to reduce our own weapons which we are supposed to have been doing.
"Obama and Biden will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and pursue it. Obama and Biden will always maintain a strong deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist. But they will take several steps down the long road toward eliminating nuclear weapons. They will stop the development of new nuclear weapons; work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair trigger alert; seek dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material; and set a goal to expand the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles so that the agreement is global."
The IAEA proposed a treaty (FISSBAN) to do this by having all nuclear states open up their nuclear programs to be under the inspection and control of an international team of inspectors and monitors. Iran supported this. The US objected on the grounds that it wanted intelligence agencies to take the place of an international team of inspectors. Obama is not being forthcoming about these facts. Too much attention is being put on Iran and not enough attention to existing proposals or US obligations.
Obama on Iran:
"Barack Obama supports tough and direct diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to use the power of American diplomacy to pressure Iran to stop their illicit nuclear program, support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel. Obama and Biden will offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. In carrying out this diplomacy, we will coordinate closely with our allies and proceed with careful preparation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress."
Iran basically offered this back in May 2003. Of course Bush rejected it. It seems if Obama wants what they have already offered he could start by asking if the offer still stands and go from there. But one must question why this offer isn’t mentioned, and why Obama has chosen to talk about "troubling behavior." Seeking such a "comprehensive settlement" is indeed "in our best interest" but is ignoring their offers, IAEA reports, Iran’s support for FISSBAN, and talking about their "troubling behavior" really the way to go about attaining such a settlement?
Obama on Energy Security:
"Obama will put America on a path to energy independence by investing $150 billion in renewable and alternative energy over the next ten years — an investment that will create millions of jobs along the way. He’ll also make the U.S. a leader in the global effort to combat climate change by leading a new international global warming partnership."
That’s it? $15 billion-a-year is less than 1/70 of our annual military budget. This is a joke. If we are going to expand an illegal war in Afghanistan or increase the size of our military then we shouldn’t bother with this. Luxembourg is the richest country in the world per capita and they have no air force, navy and their army consists of 800 people.
Obama on Global Poverty:
"Obama and Biden will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty and hunger around the world in half by 2015, and they will double our foreign assistance to achieve that goal. This will help the world’s weakest states build healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty, develop markets, and generate wealth."
Finally, something to be happy about. We should scrap all the military dominance BS and put more resources in this. If we want to improve our global image or to counter the influence of "terrorist" groups then scaling down our empire and putting more money into anti-poverty programs like this will be more efficient and productive. I bet on it.
Obama on Israel:
"Barack Obama and Joe Biden strongly support the U.S.-Israel relationship, and believe that our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America’s strongest ally in the region."
Geez, we are right back to being let down. Being on the side of the aggressor, occupier and blatant violator of international law is hardly a productive way to claim to support a peaceful solution. Why is the security of Israel more important than the security of other countries? Israel is the nuclearized, occupying belligerent state that is provoking these confrontations. Check out Zeev Maoz’s book, Defending the Holy Land. It is a comprehensive look at Israel’s foreign policy and exploits the idiocy of what Obama is putting on his website.
"During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks, cosponsoring a Senate resolution against Iran and Syria’s involvement in the war, and insisting that Israel should not be pressured into a ceasefire that did not deal with the threat of Hezbollah missiles. He and Joe Biden believe strongly in Israel’s right to protect its citizens."
Of course Israel has a right to protect its citizens. But why the silence on the other countries rights? Why no mention of Palestinian rights? Why the assertion that the 2006 war was about Hezbollah missiles? The silence on Israel’s criminal behavior and the plight of the Palestinians coupled with the frustration of the revisionism of the 2006 war doesn’t make me think Obama is on the right side.
"Barack Obama and Joe Biden have consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel. They defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel and have advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met. They have called for continuing U.S. cooperation with Israel in the development of missile defense systems."
Right, we will give $3 billion a year to maintain a belligerent. Something should tell us that security and a fair and just solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is not really on his "agenda."
Obama on Health Care:
"On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes — government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules."
I have not been offered government-run health care. What is he talking about? Oh, that’s right! Medicare! Well medicare has high taxes because it is largely beholden to "the insurance companies [that] operate without rules." I hope others realize that other developed countries with national health care plans pay half of what we pay and don’t have 1/6 of the population without coverage as we do!
Obama on Social Security:
"President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed to ensuring Social Security is solvent and viable for the American people, now and in the future. Obama and Biden will be honest with the American people about the long-term solvency of Social Security and the ways we can address the shortfall. They will protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries alike, and they do not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age. Obama and Biden are strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security. As part of a bipartisan plan that would be phased in over many years, they will ask those making over $250,000 to contribute a bit more to Social Security to keep it sound. Obama does not support uncapping the full payroll tax 12.4 percent rate. Instead, he and Joe Biden are considering plans that will ask those making over $250,000 to pay in the range of 2 to 4 percent more in total (combined employer and employee)."
This at least (slightly) recognizes that the problem is the cap. Obama should explain why a waitress doing double-shifts at I-HOP should have 100% of her income taxed and someone making $250,000 a year (i.e. NOT waitresses or Joe the plumber – remember that stooge?) still have less than half of their income taxed. Why should the working poor bear the brunt of this burden?
Obama on Taxes:
"President Obama and Vice President Biden’s tax plan delivers broad-based tax relief to middle class families and cuts taxes for small businesses and companies that create jobs in America, while restoring fairness to our tax code and returning to fiscal responsibility."
I call bullshit. See above note on Social Security.
And much of his "agenda" follows a similar plan. I like that he says he will work towards the Millennium Development Goal and will double our assistance, and I like that he does not plan to privatize Social Security (and though I think his solution is NOT enough and still regressive, it will help strengthen the program beyond the projected date of 2049), and I like that he supports stem cell research and wants to protect a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body. So we can honestly say there are some improvements. But when it comes to foreign policy it is apparent that we will still be a militant juggernaut expanding our Empire.