President of the United States Barack Obama was in India the other day, a pack of corporate CEO's in tow, trying to sell American goods, including military hardware, to the people and government of India. He took some face time with Indian students who asked questions about his attitude towards Islam and Pakistan. Barack Obama said good things about Mohandas Karamchand (aka Mahatma) Gandhi and his American "follower," Dr. Martin Luther King. Praising Gandhi in India is like praising corn in Kansas. Politicians do it.
Just in case you haven't heard about two of the greatest events of the 20th century, the expulsion of Great Britain from India, which Gandhi helped with, and the end of racial discrimination in the United States, which King helped with, let me just say that both Gandhi and King advocated nonviolent direct action as a strategy to achieve their goals. Nonviolence meant just that: no violence should be used to achieve political or social goals. Elsewhere I and many others have critiqued this idea, and have pointed out that success in these two cased hinged largely on a great deal of violence taking place in parallel with nonviolent protest.
Here I want to remind you of Barack Obama's interpretation of Gandhi and King.
Obama's interpretation of Gandhi's teachings involves escalating a war against the people of Afghanistan. Sure Obama inherited the war, but the vast majority of those who voted for him for President thought he would quickly withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.
The people of Afghanistan did not attack the United States. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was a war crime, and every wounding or killing of any Afghan citizen is a war crime. Barack must be smarter than me because he can square trying to control the Afghan state with hyperviolence with Gandhi's nonviolence. I can't.
President Obama has also used missiles to attack people in Pakistan. The missiles are pretty indiscriminate: they kill women, civilian men, and children as well as their intended targets. But more important, the local militias that the U.S. attacks have never attacked the United States. So this is also a war crime. If you hang pictures of Gandhi and King on the wall, then kill people, do you get a war crime exemption?
I believe Obama does believe in nonviolence, for his enemies. He wants the oppressed people of Kashmir to practice nonviolence. He wants the Palestinians to practice nonviolence. He wants newly impoverished Americans to practice nonviolence. He wants Iran and North Korea to practice nonviolence. He wants the Taliban to practice non-violence. But his military allies like France, Great Britain, and Israel get a pass.
As to the American state he runs, he is bankrupting it with military hardware purchases, a bloated Homeland Security bureaucracy, and his wars against Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I believe Barack Obama's version of nonviolence came around and bit the Democratic Party on the ass on election day. Just two years ago America was filled with hopeful Obama fanatics. They hoped for peace, a universal national healthcare plan, and a jobs program that would quickly bring America out of the great recession. Instead they got war, a health care bill that made no one happy except the insurance companies, and bailouts for billionaires and bureaucrats, but no jobs for ordinary people.
So Obama's base, which is the Democratic Party progressive base, mostly just sat out the 2010 elections. In my county, Mendocino County, the Democratic Party vote [the number of people who voted mostly for the Dem slate] dropped by over 50% from 2008 to 2010. The Republicans did not rally actually many more voters with their idiotic economic and social ideas. They rallied their base, which rallied ordinary Republican voters. Obama and the Democrats alienated their base.
But they don't care! Because basically the same class of rich people finance both parties. Are you a former congressman? You can get 10 times your old salary working as a lobbyist.
The only party in the U.S. that actually advocates nonviolence is the Green Party. When you register Democratic Party (or Republican), you are indicating you believe war crimes and crimes against humanity are okay, as long as an American flag is being waved while the crimes are being committed.