Phyllis Bennis on Obama’s Cairo speech

phyllisbennisThis week from CounterSpin – “Barack Obama has either been currying favor with Muslims or extending an olive branch in the Middle East depending on which media you consume. We’ll talk with Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies about Obama’s major speech in Cairo, and the size of the gap between words and actions.”

Phyllis Bennis on CounterSpin (9:46): MP3

Paul Findley: Obama plans showdown with Israel

Paul Findley, member of Congress, 1960-83, author of They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, presents a rather optimistic view of Obama’s Cairo speech and actions to date.

He believes Obama is a long-range planner heading for a showdown with the Israel lobby.  I don’t share his enthusiasm for Obama or for the two state solution.  After all, even if it happens, what type of two state solution can Palestinians really expect?

As a Capitol Hill insider with long, close experience with Middle Eastern affairs and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel’s principal lobby in Washington, I believe I can explain why Barack Obama, as president-elect, chose Rahm Emanuel as his chief-of-staff and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. I am not an Obama insider. This is my analysis, based on strong evidence that the president is a careful, long-range planner.

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The Torture Memos

guantanmoNoam Chomsky examines the recently released torture memos and puts them in a historical context.

“Bush, of course, went beyond his predecessors in authorizing prima facie violations of international law, and several of his extremist innovations were struck down by the Courts. While Obama, like Bush, eloquently affirms our unwavering commitment to international law, he seems intent on substantially reinstating the extremist Bush measures.”

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Past is present in Latin America

Addressing the Summit of the Americas Obama explained “I didn’t come here to debate the past, I came here to deal with the future.” However, without accepting the role of the US in Latin America, which the States contemptuously titled its “backyard,” how can those in the backyard, who are now largely defined by their resistance to this status, agree consensus on a future? In the following report the Real News examine the past that Obama wants to ignore and they explore why that past is inextricably linked to the present and the future. The report also contains an excellent feature on Oscar Romero a liberation theologian assassinated by US backed right wing militia.

More from Al Jazeera:

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Empire and Latin America in the Obama Era

Manuel Pérez-Rocha writes that “Obama should begin by laying to rest the divisive Bush legacy embodied in the PPA — as well as the SPP, the Mérida Initiative and Plan Colombia. This would signal that the United States is turning from a bullying empire into a good neighbor, from foe to friend; and that the Monroe Doctrine is finally repealed. A first test to see whether the United States is making these changes will be at the forthcoming Summit of the Americas.”

Barack Obama’s rise to the U.S. presidency has left most Latin Americans suspended between skepticism and hope. That’s bound to make the V Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, to be held on April 18 and 19, especially interesting.

A promising sign of meaningful change in U.S. foreign policy toward the hemisphere would be the official demise of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America, whose apparent failure none of the three governments so far have dared to acknowledge. This creature of Bush’s imperial presidency was agreed to and announced with great fanfare by the U.S., Canadian and Mexican presidents in 2005. Since then, it has been an obscure process in which the executive powers of the governments, along with the CEOs of 30 of the largest corporations in the three countries — many of them military contractors — have extended the security perimeter of the United States to “ensure that North America is the safest and best place to live and do business.”

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