President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union message is an object lesson in contemporary U.S. class politics. Obama came into office three years ago on a wave of progressive hopes and even euphoria, very understandable given the bitter history of racism in this country and the fact that he was taking the place of his widely despised predecessor, George W. Bush.
What the last three years as well as this speech have reaffirmed is that, regardless of the particular personality or characteristics of the person assuming the U.S. presidency, it is a job that comes with a specific job description: CEO of the imperialist ruling class.
For militarism and chauvinism, combined with empty liberal rhetoric, President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union message would be hard to beat. That it was lavished with uncritical praise by liberal Democratic Party units like MoveOn.org—an allegedly “anti-war” group—was just another reminder that 2012 is an election year.
The president began by hailing the U.S. war on Iraq, a war he supposedly opposed when he was candidate Obama in 2008. Back then he was perceived by millions as the “peace candidate,” a critical element in his election victory.
“Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq,” said Obama. “Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought—and several thousand gave their lives. We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.”
In fact, the war in Iraq largely destroyed a country that posed no threat whatsoever to the U.S. Millions of Iraqis were killed, wounded or forced into exile and its society torn to shreds. Not only did thousands of U.S. soldiers die in a war fought on entirely false pretenses, hundreds of thousands more suffered severe physical and psychological wounds. The total cost of the war will exceed $3 trillion—$3,000,000,000,000.
Obama portrayed the Afghanistan war as another impending success: “The Taliban’s momentum has been broken. ...” Even his top advisers, however, view the war as a stalemate, one where the U.S.—despite more than three decades of inflicting devastation on Afghanistan—cannot achieve a military victory.