By Cynthia McKinney
5TH International Assembly,
International League of Peoples’ Struggle,
November 14, 2015,
Iam extremely happy to be here with you in my first-ever travel to the Philippines. I am also happy to be able to have some interaction with the organization founded by Professor Jose Maria Sison, someone I
wrote about in my dissertation, focused on transformational leadership in general, and the transformational leadership of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in particular.
I have been asked to speak this morning about President Obama’s well-known and quite frankly, well-worn policy called “Pivot to Asia.” Well known because he has so far during his two terms as President of the United States traveled to Asia many, many times. By my count, President Obama has been to Asia a whopping fifteen times! I wish I could state right here and now for the record that President Obama was a transformational leader and the trips to Asia were meant to transform the US relationship with Asia in a more positive direction.
For example, I would like to see the US assume responsibility for the devastation in Vietnam due to its use of Monsanto’s main product at the time, Agent Orange; I wish I could say that President Obama had traveled to Vietnam to say, “I’m sorry” on behalf of the people of the United States.
But, I cannot because he did not.
Instead, what President Obama offers Vietnam is a chance to exchange its defeated French colonial master with a US neocolonial, neoliberal model that includes growing inequality, dependency, debt peonage, with an added dose of austerity.
In 2009, when President Obama traveled to Turkey, Japan, and China, I wish I could say that in Turkey he announced the dissolution of NATO, that in Japan, he welcomed the shutdown of all nuclear power
facilities, and in China that he declared US support for China’s economic development initiative—the New Silk Road. But, I cannot because he did not.
In 2013, when President Obama traveled to the West Bank in West Asia, I wish I could tell you that he used the opportunity to announce a new relationship with Palestine, one based on dignity for Palestinians, respect for international law, and an end to US support for Palestine’s occupation. But, again unfortunately, I cannot because he did not.
I wasn’t surprised, sadly, when President Obama, even after the unending tragedy of Bhopal, pressured the Indians to renew their commitment to nuclear power — post Fukushima — and accept no liability whatsoever for US companies supplying the Kundankulum power plant.
I was shocked that President Obama forced such a ridiculous and insensitive line, and was even more stunned when the Indians worked against their own people by trying to figure out ways to accept it.
Finally, the people of Asia have seen this all before. The intentions have not changed for those who came to colonize. No matter what the policy is called, the result is the same—riches for them and those who collaborate with them and poverty for everyone else.
It goes by different names. Back then, it was called colonialism, then Kwame Nkrumah came up with neocolonialism; they then came up with globalization and neoliberalism. The name may change but the game stays the same.
Now, before I take my seat, I want to add one more thing. Now, we know about name changes and are aware of them. But the powers that be figured out something else. That you were aware and would see through and reject their name changes; so this time they gave you something else: they changed the packaging, too.
So they sent a man of color to broker their old game to the world of color. And I’m sad to say that many people were confused by that trick. Including inside the US, too. Especially people of color inside the US who thought that this man of color would transform the policies of the US. Many Europeans were tricked, too. Because I saw them in Germany at what used to be The Berlin Wall. They were crying when candidate Obama spoke there, a la John F. Kennedy, (Ich bin ein Berliner) because they thought the US had turned a new page in its book, away from war; away from hate; that the US would join the family of humankind and really become that beacon of hope that it always proclaimed itself to be. Instead, however, under President Obama — and as a Black person, I must say this — it is especially sad that we have had more homicide, genocide, sociocide, and ecocide under this President than under any other President in the history of the U.S. And that’s saying a lot.
While many people thought that President Obama would be a transformational leader for the US and the world, he has shown himself to be just like all of the others. What the world needs now is for the US to have a true transformational leader that puts the values of truth, justice, peace, and dignity first. Every day I wake up trying to understand how we can have this and relieve people inside the US and the rest of the world of its current suffering.
Finally, so, when President Obama returns to Philippines in a few days, I believe the record is clear. It will be a mistake to expect anything new. And even an invitation can be very dangerous: You know that when the Americans come, they don’t easily leave. I say, “Beware President Obama’s Pivot to Asia! Don’t get tricked and don’t be fooled!”
Makibaka, huwag matakot!