Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

Obama Reeks of Sulfur at the UN

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Obama’s speech was one long threat against world order and the rule of law.”

President Obama went to the United Nations this week and declared war against the UN’s most fundamental founding principles, all the while claiming the U.S. is the world’s one indispensable, unique and exceptional nation.

The speech was a reminder of the reason rich people in America financed and sponsored Obama’s rise to the presidency in the first place, as the new, non-white face of U.S. imperial power. Obama’s foreign policy mission was to subvert United Nations prohibitions against the use of force except in self-defense, and to substitute a so-called “humanitarian” rationale justifying aggression by Washington and its allies. This constitutes a fundamental break with the UN Charter, signifying that the U.S. realizes it can no longer dominate the world by economic and other “soft power” and must, therefore, sweep away the accumulated structures of international law that inhibit America’s ability to smash its adversaries with raw military force.

Obama’s speech was one long threat against world order and the rule of law. He baldly stated that the U.S. is prepared to “use all elements of [its] power, including military force, to secure [its] core interests in the region” – a statement that is, on its face, a violation of the UN’s prohibition against the threat of the use of force against other nations. International law forbids the powerful from rattling their sabers over perceived challenges to their "interests" in other people’s countries. Obama, like the honey badger, doesn’t give a damn about international law.

He says that, “wherever possible” he will try to “respect the sovereignty of nations,” but will “take direct action” – meaning, military force – “when it is necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attacks.” That’s another way of saying the U.S. reserves the right to send drones anywhere in the world to kill whoever it wants, whenever it wants, for its own reasons that are nobody else’s business – which is the behavior of an outlaw, rogue state.

The U.S. reserves the right to send drones anywhere in the world.”

Among the “interests” that the U.S. sees as just cause for going to war, is the promotion of what Obama calls “democracy, human rights, and open markets” in the Middle East and North Africa. “These objectives,” says Obama, “are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with countries and people of the region.” Translation: The U.S. will continue to form “coalitions of the willing” to use military force for regime change or to preserve the status quo, circumventing the United Nations – a gross violation of international law.

Obama claims that “America is exceptional” precisely because it will go to war for so-called “humanitarian” reasons in order to prevent violence to civilians before it has occurred – that is, wars based on Washington's readings of its own crystal balls, such as NATO’s war against Libya. This is actually the doctrine of pre-emptive war, which is a blatant violation of the UN Charter whether the rationale is “humanitarian” or some other excuse.

In a final obscenity, Obama concludes with a shameless reference to Dr. Martin Luther King’s “dream.” Forty-six years ago, Dr. King declared that the U.S. was the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world." That is what is so exceptional about America: its relentless quest for military domination of the planet and utter disregard for the norms of law and civilization. Barack Obama is the planetary Warmonger-in-Chief. His breath smells of sulfur, just as George Bush’s did when he addressed the UN, seven years ago.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20130925_gf_ObamaExceptionalismUN.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35pm EDT

The Living Legacy of Comrade George Jackson, September 23, 1941 – August 27, 1971

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

September 23 should have been the 72nd birthday of George Jackson. George Lester Jackson was born of black working class parents in Chicago, and grew up mostly in California. In 1961 at the age of 18, he was accused of sticking up a gas station for about $70. Represented by a public defender, he pled guilty and began serving a sentence of one year to life.

While in prison George Jackson learned to study productively and to write eloquently He took upon himself the project of politically organizing those confined in America's prisons and jails, eventually founding a chapter of the Black Panther Party behind the walls of San Quentin. Jackson's tireless work, his personal example and two best selling compilations of his letters, Soledad Brother and Blood In My Eye, ensured that his influence was felt across racial lines throughout California's penal system and far beyond.

In January 1970 Jackson was accused of the murder of a prison guard. On August 7 of that same year his younger brother Jonathan Jackson staged a doomed rescue attempt at the Marin County courthouse in which four persons died and several were wounded, and in connection with which Angela Davis was prosecuted for murder and conspiracy. George Jackson's life ended on August 21, 1971 in a hail of gunfire under circumstances which strongly suggest a setup and assassination staged by California prison officials. More than twenty thousand people showed up for his Oakland California funeral.

Though Comrade George has been gone now a dozen years longer than he lived, his influence is more deeply and widely felt than ever, as the project of prisoners in the United States politically organizing other prisoners, their families and their communities to confront and dismantle the prison state remains very much alive and growing.

George Jackson lived and died before the rise of the current black political elite gave us dozens of black congressmen and women, and thousands of black mayors, state legislators, judges and sheriffs. Jackson lived and died before the massive expansion of the carceral state multiplied the US prison population five and sixfold through the seventies, eighties, nineties and into the new century. But these two facts of 21st century political life, the prevalence of black faces in high and low places combined with the use of prisons to sanction, stigmatize and cow a black working class our leaders have no intention of educating, empowering or providing useful work or stability for, make George Jackson's life and death, his example and his selfless dedication to the cause of organizing the prisoner class more relevant than ever.

Comrade George may be forty years dead, but his tireless spirit does not rest. In the last few years alone we have seen transracial prison organizing, in Ohio and Georgia, in New York and Virginia just to name a few, and most recently in the hunger strikes in the California prison system, in which thousands of prisoners took part at least for a time.

Our black misleadership class cannot even form its lips to say “mass incarceration” or “prison state” because it is deeply complicit in both. Democrats and Republicans have been and will be of little or no use in any movement that aims to roll back the prison state. The main body of leaders in that fight will arise from the same place George Jackson arose, from among the prisoners themselves, from former prisoners and their families. And as long as that struggle goes on, George Jackson lives.

Presente, comrade George Jackson.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works near Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at), or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20130925_bd_george_jackson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25pm EDT