Empire of the Son

The president’s parents were supporters, not opponents, of American hegemony.

(Page 2 of 2)

This brings us to Dinesh D’Souza’s spectacular conspiracy theory, laid out with architectural logic in The Roots of Obama’s Rage. Although leftists and libertarians generally have dismissed the book as a psychotic screed, those of us who wish to end the American empire should nonetheless hope that D’Souza’s mind-bending thesis is correct. According to D’Souza, Obama’s aggressive foreign policies are actually part of an elaborate scheme to end what the president sees as the “wars of imperial aggression” in Iraq and Afghanistan and to withdraw the United States, which he considers “the last of the neocolonial powers,” from the world outside its borders. Obama’s alleged plan for Iraq is to wait for it to stabilize, “then say the troops aren’t needed any more,” and pull them all out. As for Afghanistan, Obama’s surge was simply a way for the president, who actually “doesn’t want to win” the war, to be able to later withdraw all the troops and still “seem tough on terrorism.” Why? Because “for an anti-colonialist like him, winning in Iraq is bad enough, but to win in Afghanistan also would be a nightmare! Think of what two victories in a row would do to America’s arrogance, and to its appetite for further wars of imperial aggression.” Motivating this grand subversion, according to D’Souza, is Obama’s devotion to the anti-colonial beliefs of his late father, Barack Obama Sr., who served as an official in the Kenyan government shortly after independence. 

As much as I wish this were all true, the fatal flaw in D’Souza’s argument is that the senior Obama’s anti-colonialism did not include an antipathy toward American influence, even in his home country. In fact, the president’s father was a client of the United States.

Although D’Souza portrays Tom Mboya, Obama Sr.’s mentor and patron, as the original source of both Obamas’ alleged anti-colonialist passion, there is wide agreement among scholars of post-independence Kenyan politics that while Mboya was consistently opposed to European colonialism—his slogan was “To Hell With European Domination”—he was always a friend and beneficiary of American neocolonialism. When he was a 26-year-old rising leader in the Kenyan labor movement, Mboya made a speaking tour of American college campuses, during which he was recruited by representatives of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), an anti-communist, pro-U.S. federation of trade unions that was jointly financed by the AFL-CIO and the U.S. State Department and received many of its directives from the CIA. Mboya formally joined the ICFTU in 1959 and for the rest of his life worked closely with the federation and received its continued financial support. This fact has been known since shortly after Mboya’s assassination in 1969, when Ramparts reported the following: “The CIA’s program in Kenya could be summed up as one of selective liberation. The chief beneficiary was Tom Mboya.…Mboya was ideal for the CIA’s purposes—the main nationalist hero and eventual chief of state Jomo Kenyatta, not being considered sufficiently safe.” D’Souza mentions none of this.

For D’Souza, the key piece of evidence linking Mboya’s alleged anti-colonialism with Obama Jr.’s alleged anti-Americanism is an article written by Obama Sr. in 1965, which elaborated Mboya’s political beliefs. The main, damning point in it, according to D’Souza, is the following: “The question is how are we going to remove the disparities in our country, such as the concentration of economic power in Asian and European hands, while not destroying what has already been achieved and at the same time assimilating these groups to build one country?…One need not be a Kenyan to note that nearly all commercial enterprises…and industries are mostly owned by Asians and Europeans. One need not be a Kenyan to note that when one goes to a good restaurant he mostly finds Asians and Europeans, nor has he to be a Kenyan to see that the majority of cars running in Kenya are run by Asians and Europeans.” But this is precisely why Mboya was chosen by the CIA as its front man in Kenya: He and his disciples opposed America’s rivals there. Obama Sr., like his son, devoted his career not to bringing down the American empire but to installing it in place of the declining colonial powers.

Anyone who reads these books with a knowledge of the relevant information that is left out of them—namely, the history of U.S. involvement in Indonesia and Kenya—will find it difficult to take them seriously. But a reader who connects the dots between that history and the stories these books tell should find it not only unsurprising but also predictable that a brown-skinned man “with a funny name” has taken up the long American project of killing people with names and complexions like his in order to save them.  

Thaddeus Russell is the author of A Renegade History of the United States (Free Press).

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  • Art-P.O.G.||

    This is an interesting and well-written thesis. I do enjoy this excerpt, too.

    Obama’s alleged plan for Iraq is to wait for it to stabilize, “then say the troops aren’t needed any more,” and pull them all out.


    Hopefully d'Souza really didn't mean to paint this plan in a negative light.

  • Brett L||

    Is this opposed to Cheney/Rumsfield plan* of bringing the troops home by admitting Iraq into the Union? I'm too lazy to read Dsouza.

    *I dont believe there was a Cheney/Rumsfield plan other than some sort of underpants gnome plan that putting a shitton of American muscle between the Saudis and the Iranians would result in ???? But step 3 was definitely NOT stable Iran, crumbling Egypt.

  • ||

    Now that was a great review-essay.

  • NotSure||

    Both parties are into the whole US hegemony thing, the only difference is that Bush wanted to introduce capitalism and neoconservatism to Iraq. People like Tony will support their hero because he has good intentions in their eyes, because they introduce things like affirmative action and solar panels, so therefore America bombing some country is alright as long as their man is in charge.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Both parties are into the whole US hegemony thing


    Yes, this. It might be that more than anything that makes people like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich outsiders inside their own parties.

  • Tony||

    I don't support bombing people for any reason. I do understand that there is such a thing as national interest, and it almost never has anything to do with freeing people from oppression.

    Given the realities of global politics, one thing's for sure: you can't support the oil industry and be against American interventions at the same time. As long as "national interest" depends on securing access to resources that other countries have and that we don't, you're going to have hegemony.

  • Metazoan||

    I don't think most people on here want the government to "support" the oil industries, just allow it to operate.

    That could actually work out for everyone- oil companies tired of being yanked around by tin-pot 4th world dictators might actually look for a renewable feedstock for their refineries.

  • Tony||

    The ONLY reason climate change denierism exists is because of oil-industry-funded propaganda.

    Climate change denierism is by far the majority viewpoint on these boards (despite being virtually nonexistent among subject matter experts).

    That you don't know you're shills for the oil industry status quo doesn't mean you aren't.

  • ||

    LOL

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Shit! I haven't gotten Check One for being critical of AGW! Those laggards need to be payin' me, yo!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Tell all that to Team Blue, Tony. Without their help, we wouldn't be bombing people in other countries.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Ah, his Nobel Prize speech spoke of going "beyond self-defense."

    That isn't phrase you want to hear from any country's leader, your own or someone else's.

  • Ziggy||

    What exactly is a win in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya?

  • $6M RoboTorso||

    The incumbent's reelection.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    This is an excellent question. Troubling, but excellent.

  • Rich||

    Perhaps *Tim* has the answer?

  • anon||

    Pretty sure a "win" in either country would us leaving them the fuck alone for a change.

  • anon||

    *would be, don't know how that "be" got left out.

  • WWNGD?||

    More to it than that, if a friendly, pro-America government. (At the time of said win) is installed then it is a win.

  • db||

    We can't even get a "friendly, pro-America government" in Pakistan, let alone Afghanistan.

  • ||

    We cannot get a pro-America government in Washington DC!

  • NotSure||

    Having a military presence in the country, being able to dictate to the leaders of the country to follow the US line, have the country use the US dollar as the main reserve currency, have US business given preference for government tenders.

    Whether this is can be achieved is another debate, but this are probably how most of the politicians would regard a victory.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Substitute Department of State for military, and I think at this point you're on the money.

  • ||

    What exactly is a win in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya?

  • $6M RoboTorso||

    America, Fuck Yea!

  • ||

    Blame Canada!

  • ||

    Blame Canada if you must, but please keep buying Canadian oil in amounts which exceed the imports from Saudi-Arabia & Venezuela together.

  • ||

    Around 1:30

  • George V||

    Any outcome will be a win. When troops are withdawn, the president (whoever that may be) will simply declare victory.

  • WWNGD?||

    "Although the debate over Barack Obama’s national identity ended with the release of his long-form birth certificate"

    yeah... like that is going to go away. They still believe.

  • ||

    Begs the question: why didn't he just release it immediately, along with the school records, et al?

  • Teaching Student||

    To use it as a distraction. If everyone is focused on where he was born, what his religion is, etc, they aren't focused on real issues.

  • Rich||

    “we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events.”

    Where in the Declaration of Independence Constitution ...?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    This had better not be like Rome's singular role in the course of human events. :::shakes fist:::. Or the British Empire's.

  • Rich||

    You can't spell "singularity" without "singular".

  • jtuf||

    Liberal's love the American Empire as long as one of their guys is at the helm.

  • Teaching Student||

    So do the Republicans.

  • ||

    It is about progressive v. conservative. You do not have ANY conservatives in team blues stable. You have a view left in Team Red's. Conservatives used to be about local guv'mint and a small federal presence in our lives. Now with likes of Graham, McCain and the rest we know that is not the case.

    Progressives are about control, here and abroad. Small government and paying attention to those pesky 9th and 10th amendments is something Americans once cared about. The constitution has been under assault for 100 years. It started with the Sherman act, Teddy Roosevelt, and Wilson. It has been down hill since.

    Hopefully the rest of the country will catch up before we too far gone.

  • Raven Nation||

    Angelo Codevilla had an interesting piece in the last issue of the Claremont Review of Books. He reviewed Scott's book & several others. Has similar argument to Russell but more space to develop it. Codevilla argued that the agencies Obama's family were involved with were run by anti-Stalinist leftists which influenced Obama's thinking.

  • ||

    Although the debate over Barack Obama’s national identity ended with the release of his long-form birth certificate,

    Technically, not. What was released was a different document, and was one goofy-ass scan loaded with weird artifacts, including multiple layers and a big edit file.

    The actual original has never been examined by an independent expert, and is still locked up in a safe.

    And there's still the ongoing mystery of his SocSec number, which was issued in a state he wasn't in, and is flagged as "probably fraudulent."

  • ||

    I still stick with the theory that there's nothing there, or the premier political knife artists of our generation (the Clintons) would have outed him during the primary.

  • IceTrey||

    The Clintons are part of the cabal and are just going along with the plan.

  • paranoid||

    Or maybe they have decided it's easier to hold the proof over his head and force him to do all the shit that they would like to see done, without having to actually deal with the consequences to their political popularity.

    Hell, it would actually be hilarious if Obama actually was a total progressive ideologue who was being jerked around like a puppet by the Clintons. Would explain PPACA being mandate-based instead of single payer, along with some of his foreign policy moves. Also, why so much of his administration are Clinton retreads.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    The actual original has never been examined by an independent expert, and is still locked up in a safe.

    The state officials who control the birth records are supposed to be independent officials.

    The copy that was released to the press is a copy of the original document (in the bound book, you can see the distortion at the left margin) made on the safety paper (that's what all the green lines are) now used by th State of Hawaii for both the short and long forms. Long forms must be specifically requested by mail, if you apply for a copy of a BC on the website of the state you will get a short form. The short form is supposed to be good for all legal purposes, being essentially an affidavit by a state official that the original document exists, that he or she has examined it and it contains the information shown on the short form.

    Birther claims hinge on, among other things, the notion that all of the Hawaii state officilas who attested to the existence of the original birth record are guilty of perjury.

    Of course, the claims of the NBCers are not at all satisfied by the release of any BC. These are the folks that insist that a NBC is a person who was born on US soil to two parents who were themselves US citizens at the time of the claimant's birth. This would seem to depend on the notion that speculations made in philosophical treatises that the founders may or may not have read have the force of law.

  • IceTrey||

    "a copy of the original document'

    Exactly how do you know this? Were you there when it was copied?

    "Long forms must be specifically requested by mail"

    They don't give out long forms at all anymore.

    "officials who attested to the existence of the original birth record are guilty of perjury."

    No official has made any statement under oath so there is no perjury. Everything that has been said has just been a press release.

    "the notion that speculations made in philosophical treatises "

    Supreme Court
    Minor v Happersett

    "all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. "

    http://naturalborncitizen.word.....n-citizen/

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    A birth certificate contains on it an affidavit from a registrar or deputy who attests that the information on it is an accurate statement of the facts on the original birth record.

    If a lawyer can correct me I will admit error, but AFAIK attesting to a falsehood in an affidavit is perjury in all fifty states.

    Hawaii does give out long forms on special request. I stood corrected when someone linked to a copy of one (not BO's) right here at H&R.
    They are not normally needed since the short form specifically says right on it that it is sufficient for all legal purposes in the United States.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    That's some sweet selective quoting there. And some sweet mental gymnastics being done by the blogger.

    Further down, quoting from the same decision, your link says,

    Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents.

    IOW, the writer of the decision itself allows that there may be a different definition.

    Since citizenship is a manmade concept and a matter of law and the COTUS gives the power to define citizenship to Congress, I'll leave it up to them. And, so far they have legislated that people born in the United States, regardless of their prents status (and some people born in foreign lands to parents one or both of whom who are US citizens) are citizens by birth. Everyone ,except you and a handful of other nativist crackpots, agree that that is what makes a natural born citizen.

    Continue to believe your crackpot idea, but do it, at least, without any illusions that any significant number of sane people agrees with you.

  • IceTrey||

    "attesting to a falsehood in an affidavit is perjury in all fifty states."

    An affidavit on a REAL birth certificate, yes. Alvin Onaka has refused to confirm that it is his signature on the posted BC or that the posted BC is genuine.

    "Hawaii does give out long forms on special request."

    You're out of date.

    http://www.thepostemail.com/20.....hers-here/

    Re: Minor v Happersett

    You need to take a reading comprehension course. My quote defines "natural born citizen" which is the requirement to be President. Your quote only states that some people born in a country to non citizen parents MIGHT be "citizens". "Natural born citizen", "citizen" not the same thing. If you refuse to accept the words of the highest court in the land then it is you who is not sane.

  • ||

    Bullshit.

    I'm done.

  • IceTrey||

    @Kreel

    Of course your done, because you lost.

  • rofl||

    ahahaha, the whole birther selective-humean skepticism argument relies on a supreme court decision meant to deny women the right to vote.

  • rofl||

    Also, maybe you should read the whole thing:

    "The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. [b]For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts.[/b]"

    This case has NO BEARING AT ALL ON MATTERS OF CITIZENSHIP. The passage you cite IS IN THE OBITER DICTUM YOU FUCKING IDIOT.

  • IceTrey||

    The Court in Minor did make a direct holding that Mrs. Minor was, in fact, a US citizen. The Court established her citizenship by defining the “class” of “natural-born citizens” as those born in the US to parents who were citizens. Even though my quote is dicta it is still material to the final holding in the case.

  • wait||

    No, it wasn't. Establishing her as a "natural-born citizen" was tangential to hte overall argument that "citizenship" and "voting rights" are not one in the same. As you can see right there, they relied on common law to establish that there is "general" agreement that someone with two citizen parents, is a citizen. To the other "scenario" - being born on American soil - they only said that there "have been doubts". Then followed that with "For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts." I.e., they agreed that yes, having two citizen parents makes you a citizen, but they didn't PRECLUDE other definitions that would make someone natural born, as it was NOT germane to the case.

    The founding fathers were not perfect, and their lack of a sound and complete definition of "natural citizen" left a lot of room for future interpretation, which still stands.

  • IceTrey||

    You need to reread the case. The holding in the case did not deny Mrs. Minor the right to vote. It said that the Constitution did not grant ANYBODY a right to vote, man or woman.

  • Dave||

    Interesting thesis.

    I am never quite sure whether Obama is very, very dumb - or a super-genius.

  • ||

    He's just meh

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Obama knows a) exactly what he's doing and b) absolutely nothing.

  • ||

    Sounds like Schrodinger's President.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I like where you're headed, RC.

  • creech||

    No one cares about this Obama crap.
    Everyone wants to know how Palin lost her virginity.

  • ||

    Which Palin?

  • ||

    All of them, in chronological order.

  • ||

    Let us begin with a physical fact: Obama literally would not exist without the Central Intelligence Agency.

    If you were on the fence about whether the CIA should be closed, its offices razed, and the ground sown with salt, this should close the deal.

  • ||

    "Obama literally would not exist without the Central Intelligence Agency."

    Sounds like a CIA plot all along. The conspiracies never end.

  • paul hughes||

    To say that Obama is the product of a CIA/Ford Foundation/what have you nexus is to say that he is the product of a progressive/"liberal" (in the non-classic sense)/Democratic (in the partisan sense) movement that has always had elements of anti-Americanism but has never been adverse to using force for expedient purposes while claiming to want peace. What is lacks is any sense for the (hopefully rare) use of force in the actual interests of America.

  • ||

    While I too believe that the "progressive/"liberal" (in the non-classic sense)/Democratic (in the partisan sense)" movement operates in error, I hestitate to describe it as "anti-American" in any meaningful sense.

    The proponents of that movements ideas believe strongly that they are acting in ways entirely consistent with the thoroughly idealistic patriotism.

    Do-gooders are always people to be feared.

  • Realist||

    "The president’s parents were supporters, not opponents, of American hegemony."
    One thing is for sure they raised an asshole.

  • Realist||

    I use to believe the biggest problem with Obama was his lack of intelligence. I still think he has a lack of intelligence, but the biggest problem with Obama is his dislike (perhaps hatred) of white people and hatred of capitalism. Therefore he does not care much for this country.

  • Tony||

    And the fact that income disparity to the benefit of whites is at a historic extreme, as are corporate profits, must mean that he's ignorant about how to achieve his racist anti-capitalist goals.

  • ||

    Just ask Unle Omar.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    There goes Tony with his "rich white people suck" bullshit again.

  • Realist||

    The ones that voted for Obama do.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Well, brain damage does that to people.

  • Realist||

    Actuslly it is rich white people that got him elected....stupid, but rich!

  • Realist||

    ..actually....

  • Realist||

    "And the fact that income disparity to the benefit of whites is at a historic extreme, as are corporate profits, must mean that he's ignorant about how to achieve his racist anti-capitalist goals."
    Yes, and many other things as well.

  • Bradley||

    Obama hates capitalism about as much as George W. Bush did.

  • ||

    " the biggest problem with Obama is his dislike (perhaps hatred) of white people and hatred of capitalism."

    How much empirical evidence will you need before you stop embarassing yourself? Obama has governed politically to the right of Clinton. Or maybe he's just weak and ineffectual. Either way, Obama is less liberal than any alternative the Democrats would put up. Or maybe you prefer white Elizabeth Warren?

  • ||

    This is an interesting thesis, but it would be stronger with cites to original sources. That would help make some of the inductive leaps more palatable. For example, why would Mboya believe that the US, which bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, intervened in Korea, had military "advisors" in Vietnam, mistakenly joined in the First World War, and, earlier, showed its unabashed imperialistic inclinations in Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Phillipines would treat Kenya any better than colonialist Great Britain? Why would Mboya and Obama, Sr., self-avowed socialists, want to replace British mercantilism with American capitalism? A side note: Tim Geithner's father headed the Ford Foundation's East Asian operations. Is Obama's decision to retain the shockingly incompetent Geithner due to some long-term association between his mother/step-father and the Geithner clan?

  • ||

  • ||

    The Asians in Kenya (more specifically, south asians) were not great power rivals of America. They were market dominant minorities. And Russell (whose other writings have brought facts to light I never heard before) completely elides the title of Obama Sr's essay: "Problems Facing Our Socialism". His socialism was based on race/ethnicity rather than Marxism, which is why it was more acceptable to the CIA (not because he was pro-American). And simply by reading "Dreams of My Father" you can learn what Ann Dunham's attitude was toward American businessmen: "These are not my people!". President Obama is as much a product of his environment when he became an adult and left home as his parents, and that I think is what Russell is leaving out in explaining his current policies.

  • ||

    If you are interested in what constitutes a "win" in our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, against Terror, etc. you only have to look at who benefits: The Military/Terror Industrial Complex. As long as they can pick the pockets of the American taxpayer, they are winning. That a few brown people die is just collateral damage. This is a war of the "complex" against the American people and it will only end once the people have enough and line Pennsylvania Ave with the corpses of the warmongers and swinging from the cherry trees.

  • ChrisO||

    The author pretty much lost me at "American empire."

    Perhaps it works well as a form of exaggerated political rhetoric, but it is 99% factually inaccurate. If judged by the standards of actual empires, the USA constitutes a pretty piss-poor empire: basically a handful of dipshit Pacific islands and Puerto Rico.

    If it was really all about the oil, then I probably wouldn't have paid $3.50 for gas last weekend. America has (had?) the capacity to create a true empire, but that's not our way of doing things. Instead, we get caught up in every two-bit civil war and tribal conflict in the name of Promoting Democracy. We certainly don't get any imperial grandeur out of that.

    I'm all for removing our troops from far flung postings around the world. Some years ago, the military even developed a plan for doing so while maintaining our ability to quickly project force anywhere in the world--the "lily pad" concept of small supply depots & landing spots in remote locations instead of large, intrusive bases.

    However, I think using the loaded terms "American empire" and "neo-colonialism" plays into the hands of the radical left, who, as Russell says, have no real interest in following George Washington's famous maxim on foreign policy.

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