WHAT was really so “outrageous” about the points I made regarding the visit of President Obama and the G8 summit on Tuesday morning?
Of course the Obamas, like anyone else, have a right to visit our country and enjoy the benefits we have to offer. However, we cannot afford to let a sideshow develop whereby the situation becomes completely depoliticised.
I criticised the sycophantic behaviour of members of the Irish Government during the visit because quite frankly, I like many others, felt that it was an embarrassing display. It was almost reminiscent of the old days of subservient tugging of the forelock as your feudal overlord pays you a visit. Of course none of the other G8 leaders are any better, but then the media did not feel the need to parade stories of what these people ate for lunch on every front page across the country.
The suggestion that the fanfare was good for tourism and that certain truths about the president’s policies must be overlooked is ludicrous. In fact, this approach is an insult to millions of Americans and others around the globe who have been bitterly disappointed with Obama’s failure to deliver for ordinary working people at home and abroad.
Given our Government’s complicity nature aiding these policies through the use of Shannon, I contend there was nothing outrageous about raising these points on Tuesday.
The fact that the US establishment played a role in the Northern Ireland peace process does not give them licence to make war everywhere else. The recent decision by Obama to supply arms to the Syrian opposition will fuel the destabilisation of the region and will result in the loss of life of thousands of people.
It is somewhat ironic that the UN report on refugees was published on the same day. The report revealed a 20-year high in the number of refugees globally. Every four seconds a person is displaced. This takes place in the main hotspots where US imperialism has intervened either directly or in directly.
The role of American imperialism in the Middle East has been devastating. There has been a 200% increase in the use of drones under the Obama administration, which have killed thousands of people including hundreds of children. And yet we are expected to stand, and applaud, when he makes a speech in Ireland about peace.
Obama’s record on Guantanamo again reflects his hypocrisy of making speeches about peace. Ten years on, Guantanamo still operates a policy of internment without trial or recourse to detainees’ legal or human rights. Is this not what we saw once upon a time in Northern Ireland? Perhaps if the media had bothered to place Obama’s speech within the context of his drone and Guantanamo policies, my statements would not seem so outrageous.
The Taoiseach and sections of the media may want to continue to pull the wool over people’s eyes when it comes to the Obamas, but in reality, Obama is no friend of peace or the Irish people. When Ireland, in talks with the troika in 2010, attempted to repudiate some of the illegitimate banking debt, it was Obama who instructed Timothy Geithner to derail any deal to burn the bondholders and insisted they should be repaid in full. That intervention, by the United States, meant that the entire cost of the bank bailout was loaded on to the Irish people. Thank you Mr President.
And finally, this paper’s suggestion that my comments were an affront to the American people is utterly ludicrous. They too are suffering attacks on their wages and working conditions, and being threatened with anti-labour laws like workers in Europe. The Government lackeys are not doing any favours for American people by offering Obama unquestionable adoration. We would serve them better by highlighting the tax havens which Ireland has kindly provided for big US corporations so that they can avoid paying tax in the US. This is of course tax which could be providing American working people with a decent health service. And so could the moneys being spent on arming conflicts around the world. If we want to pay a proper tribute to the ideals of America, maybe we should open our doors to Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.
*Clare Daly is an Independent TD