Changing Obama’s Mindset

Let’s take this money and give it directly to the people who need it. Give it to the people who have to pay their mortgages. Nobody should be evicted. Nobody should be left with their belongings out on the street.

Obama wants to spend perhaps a trillion more on the banks. Like Bush, he’s not giving it directly to homeowners. Unlike the Republicans, Obama also wants to spend $800 billion for his economic stimulus plan. Which is good—the idea of a stimulus is good. But if you look closely at the plan, too much of it goes through the market, through corporations.

It gives tax breaks to businesses, hoping that they’ll hire people. No—if people need jobs, you don’t give money to the corporations, hoping that maybe jobs will be created. You give people work immediately.

A lot of people don’t know the history of the New Deal of the 1930s. The New Deal didn’t go far enough, but it had some very good ideas. And the reason the New Deal came to these good ideas was because there was huge agitation in this country, and Roosevelt had to react. So what did he do? He took billions of dollars and said the government was going to hire people. You’re out of work? The government has a job for you.

As a result of this, lots of very wonderful work was done all over the country. Several million young people were put into the Civilian Conservation Corps. They went around the country, building bridges and roads and playgrounds, and doing remarkable things.
The government created a federal arts program. It wasn’t going to wait for the markets to decide that. The government set up a program and hired thousands of unemployed artists: playwrights, actors, musicians, painters, sculptors, writers. What was the result? The result was the production of 200,000 pieces of art. Today, around the country, there are thousands of murals painted by people in the WPA program. Plays were put on all over the country at very cheap prices, so that people who had never seen a play in their lives were able to afford to go.

And that’s just a glimmer of what could be done. The government has to represent the people’s needs. The government can’t give the job of representing the people’s needs to corporations and the banks, because they don’t care about the people’s needs. They only care about profit.

In the course of his campaign, Obama said something that struck me as very wise—and when people say something very wise, you have to remember it, because they may not hold to it. You may have to remind them of that wise thing they said.

Obama was talking about the war in Iraq, and he said, “It’s not just that we have to get out of Iraq.” He said “get out of Iraq,” and we mustn’t forget it. We must keep reminding him: Out of Iraq, out of Iraq, out of Iraq—not next year, not two years from now, but out of Iraq now.

But listen to the second part, too. His whole sentence was: “It’s not enough to get out of Iraq; we have to get out of the mindset that led us into Iraq.”

What is the mindset that got us into Iraq?

It’s the mindset that says force will do the trick. Violence, war, bombers—that they will bring democracy and liberty to the people.

It’s the mindset that says America has some God-given right to invade other countries for their own benefit. We will bring civilization to the Mexicans in 1846. We will bring freedom to the Cubans in 1898. We will bring democracy to the Filipinos in 1900. You know how successful we’ve been at bringing democracy all over the world.

Obama has not gotten out of this militaristic missionary mindset. He talks about sending tens of thousands of more troops to Afghanistan.

Obama is a very smart guy, and surely he must know some of the history. You don’t have to know a lot to know the history of Afghanistan has been decades and decades and decades and decades of Western powers trying to impose their will on Afghanistan by
force: the English, the Russians, and now the Americans. What has been the result? The result has been a ruined country.

This is the mindset that sends 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and that says, as Obama has, that we’ve got to have a bigger military. My heart sank when Obama said that. Why do we need a bigger military? We have an enormous military budget. Has Obama talked about cutting the military budget in half or some fraction? No.

We have military bases in more than a hundred countries. We have fourteen military bases on Okinawa alone. Who wants us there? The governments. They get benefits. But the people don’t really want us there. There have been huge demonstrations in Italy against the establishment of a U.S. military base. There have been big demonstrations in South Korea and on Okinawa.

One of the first acts of the Obama Administration was to send Predator missiles to bomb Pakistan. People died. The claim is, “Oh, we’re very precise with our weapons. We have the latest equipment. We can target anywhere and hit just what we want.”

This is the mindset of technological infatuation. Yes, they can actually decide that they’re going to bomb this one house. But there’s one problem: They don’t know who’s in the house. They can hit one car with a rocket from a great distance. Do they know who’s in the car? No.

And later—after the bodies have been taken out of the car, after the bodies have been taken out of the house—they tell you, “Well, there were three suspected terrorists in that house, and yes, there’s seven other people killed, including two children, but we got the suspected terrorists.”

But notice that the word is “suspected.” The truth is they don’t know who the terrorists are.

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