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Opinion

September 28, 2017
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In their words

Opinion

September 28, 2017

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The nature of the rhetoric in Donald Trump’s first speech at the United Nations General Assembly was largely predictable. Even his bizarre threat to “totally destroy North Korea” was consistent with his overall style and previous warnings.

But how different was his speech, if compared with the first and last UN speeches of President Barack Obama?

A 19th Century English author, John Ruskin, once wrote, “Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts – the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art.”

Soon after former US President Barack Obama’s arrival in the Oval Office, Harvard Business School Professor, John A. Quelch injected Ruskin’s quote to re-assert the need to strike the balance in US internal politics and foreign policy. Like others, he emphasized that Obama must utilize his positive image to restore ‘the American brand’, which was badly tarnished during the two terms of George W. Bush.

Journalist and author, John Pilger was quite astute when he – as early as 2009 – raised the issue of the Obama brand.

Using a plagiarized slogan from the South American union organizer, Cesar Chavez, “Sí, se puede!” – “Yes, we can!” – the Obama campaign managed to breathe life into a greatly discredited US political system.

The brand was such a success that, even before Obama won the people’s vote, the ‘Obama brand’ also won the votes of hundreds of top advertising executives who granted the campaign the top award at the annual Association of National Advertisers conference. Thus the ‘Obama brand’ became the “Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008.”

The appreciation of words and skills at the expense of real action, continues to resurface whenever Trump sends an embarrassing tweet or gives a belligerent speech. His first speech to the UN on September 19 was a case in point.

But the fact is, despite the vastly different style – Trump’s confrontational approach compared with Obama’s composed attitude – their words promise ‘more of the same.’ To demonstrate, here are the main subjects they raised in their UN speeches, in their own words:

Neither Obama nor Trump took any responsibility for their country’s direct or indirect role in fomenting terrorism – for example, their country’s military invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). Instead, they spread fear, while positioning themselves as the global safety net against terrorists and those who fund or support them.

Obama (2009): “Extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world; protracted conflicts that grind on and on; genocide; mass atrocities; more nations with nuclear weapons; melting ice caps and ravaged populations; persistent poverty and pandemic disease. I say this not to sow fear, but to state a fact: The magnitude of our challenges has yet to be met by the measure of our actions.”

Obama (2016): “We’ve taken away terrorist safe havens.”

Trump (2017): “Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terror but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.”

For both Trump and Obama, war is a necessary evil, and only the US is capable of making the determination when such evil is to be applied. Neither seemed bothered by the fact that the US is only second to Russia in the number of its nuclear warheads, as it has stockpiled 6,800 nuclear weapons compared with North Korea’s estimated 10-40 devices.

 

This article has been excerpted from: ‘In Their Own Words: When Trump and Obama Sounded the Same.’

Courtesy: Counterpunch.org

 

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