Perry Anderson's analysis of Obama's foreign policy was first published in New Left Review in September 2013 and forms a part of American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers.
Democratic takeover of the White House in 2009 brought little alteration in American imperial policy. Continuity was signalled from the start by the retention or promotion of key personnel in the Republican war on terror: Gates, Brennan, Petraeus, McChrystal. Before entering the Senate, Obama had opposed the war in Iraq; in the Senate, he voted $360 billion for it. Campaigning for the presidency, he criticized the war in the name of another one. Not Iraq, but Afghanistan was where US firepower should be concentrated. Within a year of taking office, US troops had been doubled to 100,000 and Special Forces operations increased sixfold, in a bid to repeat the military success in Iraq, where Obama had merely to stick to his predecessor’s schedule for a subsequent withdrawal.
On Friday 23rd December the UN passed a resolution demanding a stop to Israeli settlement in the occupied territories as, in a shock move, the US refused to veto the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exploded, calling it a 'declaration of war' (having recently been granted a $38 billion military aid package by the US), and Secretary of State John Kerry criticised Israel's approach to the peace process. But with Trump tweeting that Israel should 'stay strong' until his inauguration, progress still seems unlikely.
Verso presents a list of books from Israeli, Palestinian, and anti-imperialist authors, to explain the conflict and provide some perspectives on the future.
Following the tragic Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called for a return to “the spirit of 9/12,” a reference to a dark period of racism, surveillance, and state sanctioned Islamophobia after the September 11th attacks. In the United Kingdom, instances of xenophobia and Islamophobia have reportedly surged following the EU referendum, leaving migrants and minorities, particularly Muslim women, vulnerable to attack and discrimination. As events unfold and the "Brexit" debates continue, we present a reading list of key titles that shed light on the origins of Islamophobia and ways we can organize to fight it.
Ghada Karmi and Ellen Siegel, 1973
By Ghada Karmi in Return: A Palestinian Memoir
As I sat at my father’s bedside, listening to his irregular breathing and the sound of the pulse monitor attached to his finger, I thought how frightening it was to be brought up sharp against the awareness of one’s own mortality. I feared death equally as much as I knew my father did. He was a very old man, but age had not dimmed his ardour for life and I imagined I would be the same. Like most people, I did not like to contemplate my dying and avoided thinking about it, but it was always there, waiting in the background to be attended to. An elderly doctor I knew once told me, ‘I believe that people must prepare for death. Avoidance and denial are foolish. If we face up fair and square to the inevitability of death it will lose its terrors.’
Introduction to Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation, edited by Vijay Prashad
Palestine is easily forgotten. There is war. There is suffering. The war ends. The suffering vanishes. Silence.
Was there even a “war”? Palestine is under occupation, and has been since 1967, since 1948. An occupied land is not at war, can never be at war. It is occupied. Occupation is a state of war. The occupied space retaliates. It seeks its freedom. It is punished. Was Operation Protective Edge a war or a punishment? Operation Grapes of Wrath, Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Cloud—names less of defense and more of vengeful retribution.