The fabulous reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
in Bangkok does not exactly subscribe to drone
wars and "targeted assassinations" - not to
mention bombing of civilian infrastructure. So the
Buddha may have been puzzled - to say the least -
when US President Barack Obama, right at the start
of his whirlwind "pivoting" tour of Southeast
Asia, and referring to Israel and Gaza, came up with
this: "There is no country on
earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on
its citizens from outside its borders."
imagine the Buddha in nirvana, mercifully
surveying the sorry landscape of this valley of
tears, and duly noting that Obama's drones do rain
Hellfires from Pakistan to Yemen, while one of
Israel's trademark - extra-judicial - target
assassinations, of Hamas military leader Ahmad
al-Jabari, was the preamble to unleashing the
latest chapter of Israel's collective punishment
Call it the Obama Doctrine or
good ol' American exceptionalism; all across the
Arab street Obama's endorsement of Israel's
rampage was analyzed side by side with this
perceptive bit of geopolitical analysis by Ariel
Sharon's son; "We need to flatten entire
neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The
Americans didn't stop with Hiroshima - the
Japanese weren't surrendering fast enough, so they
hit Nagasaki, too". 
anyone? Not even Obama - nor any other US
president - would admit the possibility that Tel
Aviv routinely engages in collective
punishment-based state terrorism. After all, as
Gold Meir once said, "There are no such thing as
That renders the spinning of
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton being sent
to broker an Israel/Hamas deal even more
ludicrous. The Obama administration has no power
to guarantee its ally Israel's promises to abide
by a ceasefire. Still, a deal has to be broken -
and the key broker is Egypt, under President Morsi
of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).
start, Morsi knew Israeli Prime Minister Bibi
Netanyahu could not go on bombing forever - what with
the gruesome accumulation of "collateral damage".
He knew Bibi would have to back down, because
a "flatten all of Gaza" bombing followed by a
ground war would run the risk of bogging down Israel
not only in the terrain of world public opinion
but in the geographical terrain as well.
For weeks now, the mantra among
conservatives and right-wingers in the US is that
the Obama administration's Middle East policy now
consists of kissing the feet of the MB. Even
admitting Obama and his advisers do know how to
deal with the MB (which is far from given),
results of the wackiest kind should be expected.
The MB is in power in Egypt; very well positioned
to soon take power in US ally Jordan; now leading
the remixed opposition bag in Syria; and totally
supported all over by Qatar. On top of it, Hamas
is essentially the MB in power in Gaza.
Considering that Qatar cautiously took a
back seat in trying to solve the drama in Gaza
(because is afraid to antagonize Israel),
Washington had to rely on Egypt. As for Morsi, he
knew that if he didn't try to distance himself
from the US in trying to broker a deal, the
Egyptian street would hammer him in the next
parliamentary elections. And only Morsi has enough
margin of maneuver to dance around the supreme
objective of Hamas - which is to break for good
the (illegal) physical and economic blockade of
Then there's curiouser and curiouser
Syria. The remixed Syrian opposition council is a
joint US-Qatar operation. Obama himself, in his
first press conference after being re-elected,
said he wanted an opposition "committed to a
democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate
Syria". This is not exactly on the agenda in Doha
- not to mention Riyadh.
What would have
been Obama's reaction when he learned that Free
Syrian Army gangs totally dismiss the new Syrian
National Council - whose leader Moaz al-Khatib, by
the way, believes Facebook is an evil US/Israeli
plot? The gangs have proclaimed they want "a fair
Islamic state". Translation; screw Qatar and the
US, we want to go the medieval Saudi way.
No question; in the coming months it will
be a blast to see Obama trying to pivot away from
all this mess towards the Asia-Pacific.
Too many fish in the sea That
brings us to the final destination of all this
Beijing's reading of the
pivoting hype is straightforward. The Cold War is
back - and the new red (yellow?) menace is China.
The Obama administration has no business in
meddling into disputes in the South China Sea. As
the Middle Kingdom's rise to top economic -
followed by political - power in the world is as
inexorable as death or taxes, all of Southeast
Asia will prefer integration instead of
Now compare it with the
rather comic stance of Obama - who came up with
the tension-elevating pivoting in the first place
- now posing as the benign appeaser of tensions,
involving China, Taiwan and four Southeast Asian
nations, during his whirlwind tour.
the fight is already on; after all, immense
quantities of unexplored oil and gas are at stake.
Beijing will only accept bilateral negotiations.
The Philippines - following US influence - wants
internationalization. Cambodia - essentially a
Chinese economic colony - announced during the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
summit that all members will discuss the South
China Sea with China bilaterally. The Philippines
- which refers to a "Western Philippines Sea" -
said "forget it". At this stage, what ASEAN and
Beijing must agree on is a "code of conduct". It
will take time. But it's inevitable.
did meet with outgoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao,
whom he told the US and China must "establish
clear rules of the road" for trade and investment.
That's certainly more civilized than Mitt (Who?)
Romney promising to start a trade/currency war
with China on Day One of his presidency. There's
no record of Wen mentioning the pivoting to Obama.
So in the end what was Obama exactly doing
in his whirlwind Southeast Asia tour? To the
horror of American exceptionalists of all strands,
he was, essentially, offshoring US jobs.
Obama went on a charm offensive to expand
to as many Asian nations as possible a North
American Free Trade Agreement-style deal known as
the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP is yet
another fabulous tool for US corporations - as
well as yet another nail in the coffin of US
manufacturing. Obama administration officials were
busy spinning TPP as a tool to facilitate Obama's
pivoting, in terms of "containing" China. On the
contrary; Hillary Clinton herself announced that
she would love China to be part of TPP.
Pivoting? Don't believe the hype. It's