There is nothing tragic about the Obama presidency, capable of drawing the analytical talents of a neo-Plutarch or a neo-Gibbon. This is more like a Pirandello farce, a sort of Character in Search of an Author.
Candidates to Author are well documented – from the Israel lobby to the House of Saud, from select elite of the industrial-military-security complex to, most of all, the rarified banking/financial elite, the real Masters of the Universe. Poor Barack is just a cipher, a functionary of empire, whose ''deciding'' repertoire barely extends to what trademark smile to flash at the requisite photo-ops.
There's nothing ''tragic'' about the fact that during this week – marking the 12th anniversary of 9/11 – this presidency will be fighting for its bombing ''credibility'' trying to seduce Republican hawks in the US Congress while most of the warmongers du jour happen to be Democrats.
Republicans are torn between supporting the president they love to hate and delivering him a stinging rebuke – as much as they are aching to follow the orders of their masters, ranging from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to military contractors. Once again, this is farce – caused by the fact that a man elected to finish off wars is eager to start yet another one. And once again without a United Nations vote.
The White House ''strategy'' in this crucial negotiating week boils down to this; to convince the US Congress that the United States must start a war on Syria to punish an ''evil dictator'' – once again, as bad as Hitler – for gassing children. The evidence? It's ''indisputable''.
Well, it's not ''irrefutable''. It's not even ''beyond-a-reasonable-doubt''. As Obama's Chief of Staff Denis McDonough admitted, with a straight face, it boils down to ''a quite strong common sense test, irrespective of the intelligence, that suggests that the regime carried this out''.
So if this is really about ''common sense'', the president is obviously not being shown by his close coterie of sycophants this compendium, compiled by a group of top, extremely credible former US intelligence officials, which debunks all the ''evidence'' as flawed beyond belief. To evoke a farce from 12 years ago, this clearly seems to be a case of ''facts being fixed around the policy''.
And to compound the farce, this is not even as much about Syria per se as about ''sending a message to Iran'', code for ''if you keep messing with us, you're going to be bombed.''
Follow the plutocrats
Then there's the ''credibility'' farce. The Obama administration has convoluted the whole world in its own self-spun net, insisting that the responsibility for the ''red line'' recklessly drawn by the president is in fact global. Yet the pesky ''world'' is not buying it.
The Arab street doesn't buy it because they clearly see through the hypocrisy; the desperate rush to ''punish'' the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria while justifying everything the apartheid state of Israel perpetrates in occupied Palestine.
The Muslim world doesn't buy it because it clearly sees the demonization only applies to Muslims – from Arafat to bin Laden to Saddam to Gaddafi and now Assad. It would never apply to the military junta in Myanmar, which was clever enough to engineer an ''opening''; the next day Westerners were lining up to kiss the hem of Burmese longyis.
It would never apply to the Islam Karimov dictatorship in Uzbekistan because ''we'' always need to seduce him as one of our bastards away from Russia and China.
It eventually applies, on and off, to the Kim dynasty in North Korea, but with no consequences – because these are badass Asians who can actually respond to an US attack.
Informed public opinion across the developing world does not buy it because they clearly see, examining the historical record, that Washington would never really be bothered with the sorry spectacle of Arabs killing Arabs, or Muslims killing Muslims, non-stop. The 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war is a prime piece of evidence.
At the Group of 20 summit last week, the BRICS group of emerging powers – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – as well as Indonesia and Argentina, clearly stressed that a war on Syria without UN Security Council approval would qualify Obama as a war criminal.
Even among the European poodles ''support'' for the White House is extremely qualified. Germany's Angela Merkel and even France's attack dog Francois Hollande said the primacy is with the UN. The European Union as a whole wants a political solution. It's enlightening to remember that the EU in Brussels can issue arrest warrants for heads of EU governments guilty of war crimes. Someone in Paris must have warned attack dog Hollande that he would not welcome the prospect of slammer time.
''Evil'' as a political category is something worthy of the brain dead. The key question now revolves around the axis of warmongers – Washington, Israel and the House of Saud. Will the Israel lobby, the more discreet but no less powerful Saudi lobby, and the Return of the Living Dead neo-cons convince the US Congress to fight their war?
And then there's the curioser and curioser case of al-Qaeda – essentially the Arabic denomination for a CIA database of US-Pakistani-Saudi trained mujahideen during the 1980s: the oh so convenient transnational bogeyman that ''legitimized'' the Global War On Terror (GWOT) of the George W Bush years; the ''opening'' for al-Qaeda to move to Iraq; and now, no middle men; the CIA and the Obama administration fighting side-by-side with al-Qaeda in Syria. No wonder the denomination ''al-CIAeda'' has gone viral.
With farce after farce after farce piling up in their own Tower of Babel, the much-vaunted ''US credibility'' is in itself the biggest farce of all. Politically, no one knows how the vacuum will be filled. It won't be via the UN. It won't be via the BRICS. It won't be via the G-20 – which is seriously divided; at least new multipolar players are carrying way more weight than US poodles.
Much would be made to restore ''US credibility'' if the Obama administration had the balls to force both the House of Saud and Qatar (''300 people and a TV station'', in the epic definition of Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar Sultan – aka Bandar Bush) to end once and for all their weaponizing of hardcore ''rebels'' and ultimately hardcore jihadis, and accept Iran in the negotiating table for a real Geneva II peace process in Syria. It won't happen because this bypasses farce.
Once again; helpless Barack is just a paperboy. The plutocrats in charge are getting extremely nervous. The system is melting – and they need to act fast.
They need a Syria as docile as the Arab petro-monarchies. They want to hit Russia bad – and then discuss missile defense and Russian influence in Eastern Europe from a position of force. They want to hit Iran bad – and then continue to issue ultimatums from a position of force. They want to facilitate yet another Israeli attempt to capture southern Lebanon (it's the water, stupid). They want a monster gas pipeline from Qatar for European customers bypassing Iran and Syria as well as Gazprom. Most of all, this is all about control of natural resources and channels of distribution.
These are real motives – and they have nothing to do with farce. Farce is only deployed to kill any possibility of real diplomacy and real political discussion. Farce is a theatrical mask – as in ''humanitarian'' imperialism – the ''acceptable'' version of the Dick Cheney-run years.
It's as if Dick Cheney had never left the building; paperboy Barack is Dick Cheney with a ''human'' face. The only good outcome in this multi-sorrowful tale is that the real ''international community'', all around the world, has seen the naked Emperor in all its (farcical) glory.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at [email protected].