Tariq Ali, editor of the New Left Review, writes a scathing indictment of Obama’s stewardship of the American empire. Ali argues that nothing has significantly changed in American foreign policy since the election of the worldly Obama. In fact, he traces a continuity between the administrations of Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama:

“There was no fundamental break in foreign policy, as opposed to diplomatic mood music, between the Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2 Administrations; there has been none between the Bush and Obama regimes. The strategic goals and imperatives of the us imperium remain the same, as do its principal theatres and means of operation. Since the collapse of the ussr, the Carter Doctrine—the construction of another democratic pillar of human rights—has defined the greater Middle East as the central battlefield for the imposition of American power around the world. It is enough to look at each of its sectors to see that Obama is the offspring of Bush, as Bush was of Clinton and Clinton of Bush the father, as so many appropriately biblical begettings.”

But this is not entirely a case of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Ali points out that Obama’s rhetoric, however hollow, is a welcome change. “If sonorous banality and armour-plated hypocrisy are the hallmarks of this Presidential style, that does not make it less functional for the task of servicing and repairing the imperial institutions over which Obama and Clinton now preside.” The Great Orator does have a few tricks up his sleeve.