Anyone who lived through the howling, roaring exhalation of meaningless noise that was the 2008 race for the Democratic nomination and still retained some fleeting, desperate, hope against hope that Barack Obama might represent at least some modicum of substantial change surely had that last, microscopic flicker extinguished for good the instant they got the news that Obama had picked Joe Biden as his running mate.
Joe Biden! The eager, oily frontman for one of the fiercest weapons of mass destruction in the elite's eternal War on the Poor and Working Folk, the back-breaking, ball-busting "Bankruptcy Bill." Joe Biden! Who was so witless that he plagarized his own family history from a speech of a British politician. Joe Biden! Who had only months earlier showered Obama with paternalistic praise for being "clean" -- unlike all those other grubby darkies out there. Joe Biden! Whose fervent dream was to shatter Iraq into partitioned pieces, and when the conquered rabble objected to this plan, exploded: "I don't know who the hell they think they are. We have a right. We've expended our blood and treasure in order to back their commitment to their constitution. That's the deal." The deal being, obviously, that the "liberated," "sovereign," "democratic" nation of Iraq had to do exactly what Washington wanted -- or else.
Joe Biden! The barnacle of the Beltway, the bellicose, belligerent, blundering bagman of empire and elitism. There he was, standing in the artfully arranged embrace of the world-historical Agent of Change, the zeitgeist-zapper himself, Barack Obama. The only thing the scene lacked was a parade of fully-clothed pigs trotting out to declare, "Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!" And of course, a giant banner unfurling overhead, declaring: "Continuity Über Alles!"
The game was well and truly over at that point, all pretenses fell away. It was now obvious, beyond all excuses, rationalizations and self-delusions, just what we were in for: more militarism, more lawlessness, more eager servicing of the rich and powerful. All that has followed -- the trillions for Wall Street, the accelerated Terror War, the embrace and expansion of the Bush Regime's authoritarian powers, the swaggering thrust for endless domination of world affairs by violent intervention and bullying threats -- was standing there before us, in carefully rolled-up, regular-guy shirtsleeves, on that day.
And so it came as no surprise to see Biden last week carrying out precisely the task that he was picked for: bullying the lesser breeds now under imperial tutelage. In this case, it was Lebanon, which has come more deeply into the American orbit since the assassination of the corrupt, Saudi-backed and -- for most of his career -- Syria-allied billionaire Rafik Hariri a few years back. When the Syrians ended their long military presence in the country -- a military presence originally backed by the United States but later seized upon as a stick to beat Damascus with; as we know, only one nation in the world has the right (nay, the duty) to keep military forces in other countries for decades on end -- Washington moved in to nurture and protect the fragile democracy of the "Cedar Revolution." So protective were the great white fathers of the Beltway that they stood by and cheered in 2006 when Israel laid waste to great swathes of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure -- and more than 1,300 civilians -- while littering the land with a quilt of cluster bombs as a parting shot when the conflict was essentially over. This orgy of destruction was hailed by Condi Rice as "the birth pangs of a new Middle East."
Last week, Biden arrived in Lebanon to continue the paternal solicitude. He told the natives that United States stands one hundred percent foursquare true-blue straight down the line behind their "sovereign" democracy -- unless, of course, the little bastards vote the wrong way. AP reports:
Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that future U.S. aid to Lebanon depends on the outcome of upcoming elections, a warning aimed at Iranian-backed Hezbollah as it tries to oust the pro-Western faction that dominates government...
"The election of leaders committed to the rule of law and economic reform opens the door to lasting growth and prosperity as it will here in Lebanon," Biden said. The U.S. "will evaluate the shape of our assistance programs based on the composition of the new government and the policies it advocates."
This is a pretty good double-barrel shot from both the Obama White House and the media sycophantry. Lebanon is about to hold a democratic election, in which one contending faction is led by Hezbollah but also "includes a significant portion of the nation’s Christian voters," as Jason Ditz notes. But if this broad-based, multi-faith, multi-ethnic coalition happens to win the election, AP tells us this will not be the kind of legitimate transfer of power that one might expect in a "sovereign" democracy; no, it will be an "ousting" by an "Iranian-backed" "militant group."
No loaded language there then. And none from Biden either, of course, who declared strict neutrality while also signalling that Lebanon will suffer the same fate as the Palestinians did when in an open, democratic election, they chose a government led by Hamas. The result was a civil war instigated and exacerbated by Israel and America, followed by a murderous blockade then the savage decimation of Gaza.
So the Lebanese have something to look forward to if they vote the "wrong" way in the June 7 election. Biden made it abundantly clear:
"Lebanon has suffered terribly from war and we have a real opportunity now ... for peace," he said after talks with the president. "So I urge those who think about standing with the spoilers of peace not to miss this opportunity to walk away from the spoilers."
You savvy? Vote for our guys -- or there will be war. You can't make it much clearer than that. Of course, if Hezbollah's coalition does win the election, there will only be war if the American-backed faction refuses to accept the democratic outcome and resorts to violence to overturn it.
This is "continuity" with a vengeance -- not only with the Bush Regime's bully-boy diplomacy, but with the ancient American tradition of threatening -- or fomenting, or outright inflicting -- war and ruin on all those who fail to exercise their freedom in the way that suits the imperial agenda du jour on the Potomac.
Note: You can find more on Lebanon in the plague-on-all-their-houses reportage of The Angry Arab.
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This story was published on May 25, 2009.