The setting: historic. The delivery: typically eloquent. The substance: dishonest.
In his address to the British Parliament, US President Barack Obama delivered a speech that simultaneously praised Britain and America as leading world powers, with common values, a shared history, a belief in Capitalism and the rule of law – ready to rid the world of wrongs and stand by the oppressed, in particular in the Arab Muslim world.
What characterised the speech was that Mr Obama’s soaring rhetoric was not matched by the facts.
He appealed to his audience against the background of the Arab Uprisings – omitting how late he and Britain were in backing the right side in Egypt, and omitting their current stance on Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
He talked about the rule of law, forgetting how he has systematically violated it in Pakistan. His drone attacks killing ‘suspects’ is no different to the Metropolitan police’s execution of Jean Charles De Menezes; except on a larger scale.
He gave utopian descriptions of the values of Capitalism in a way which utterly belied the truth of experience of billions around the world some of whom literary starve due to capitalist financial speculators.
He casually commented the West was recovering from the economic crisis the same day as the OECD warned of the threat of stagflation.
He celebrated Magna Carta and the US Declaration of Independence as expressions of values that originated in Britain and developed in the United States – omitting any reference to those rendered to be torture in unknown destinations, detained without trial in Guantanamo Bay, Bagram airbase, Belmarsh and Long Lartin – as well as ‘secret prisons’.
His recounting of history of Britain and America, and praise for their values failed to mention that those oppressed by Mubarak, Assad, the Hashemite family in Jordan, the descendants of Ibn Saud, Reza Shah Pahlavi, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Suharto in Indonesia, Gaddafi in Libya, Hasina in Bangladesh – and many other places – have tasted these values by proxy, since Britain and America supported these regimes for their own Capitalist interests.
His audience heard the speech they wanted to hear, unquestioningly.
Such a failure to see the obvious is truly frightening, in that it suggests an overwhelming majority of the political class is blinded to reality.
Such ignorance does not bode well for future policy.
Dr. Abdul Wahid is a regular contributor to New Civilisation. He is currently the Chairman of the UK-Executive Committee of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain.