Obama "chose the Senate over the UN tonight"

by: Natasha Chart

Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 18:23

In his reaction to Obama's speech in Copenhagen announcing the postponement of any legally binding treaties, climate campaigner Bill McKibben said that Obama "chose the Senate over the UN tonight."

Obama told the world tonight that the US had come to the table "with an ambitious plan to reduce our emissions" but that the US also couldn't "turn on a dime" and so refused to make any commitments that it might not be able to keep. Yet as Naomi Klein said tonight, he could easily have used the stimulus money to jumpstart a clean economy in a way that would have given the US "inspiring emissions cuts" to show the world and chose not to.

Though Obama made comments about wanting to act based on the science and leave a better world for our children and grandchildren, his refusal to commit to a firm target kept the rest of the world from doing so. Now, the agreement will include only voluntary goals from each country that will be added in an appendix to the document.

Klein said that while the Obama administration was trying to make much of his having brought China, India, Brazil and South Africa along on an agreement, it had been their position from the beginning that they didn't want to be spoilers and would agree to binding cuts if the US was willing to do so.

Klein pointed out that in spite of Obama's claim not to want to move things backwards, the world went from having a legally binding agreement signed by most countries to a non-binding agreement signed by four countries. Obama may not have wanted to create "frustration and cynicism", but McKibben added that there wasn't even a numerical target in the new document and that he doubted George Bush could have gotten away with so forcefully brushing aside the UN.

While complaining about logjams and looking backwards, Obama said that the world needed more time to build trust and that the "US was coming to this with ... a clean slate." And at that point, there was a shocking sense for me of campaign deja vu, where women and the LGBT community and social justice advocates were told to look forward and forget old divisions. Then once he got into office, all that talk of hope was replaced with using fine words to smooth over the continuing sell out of the poor to the powerful. wash, rinse, repeat. At least he's consistent.

Phil Bloomer of Oxfam commented earlier today that rich countries' governments were captured entirely by "massive, vested interests" and that wealthy countries "care more about their banks than ... our shared destiny." Rarely has this been more on display than in this president, tonight, who acted, as Avaaz' Ben Wikler said today that the US often did, to lower our national ambitions based on the power of the coal and oil industries.

Obama said tonight that, "climate change threatens us all." Yet he seemed frankly more afraid of letting anyone in the US think he'd signed up to an international treaty, closing by very awkwardly noting that there was a question of whether there even could be a signature on a document that wasn't legally binding.

Natasha Chart :: Obama "chose the Senate over the UN tonight"

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and the House (0.00 / 0)
The cap-and-trade agreement that made it through the House is also very weak.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Mega-conference / mega-treaty strategy fails again. (0.00 / 0)
Put me in the camp who thinks too many people consuming too many resources
threatens us all

Governments of whatever stripe simply will not jeopardize their existence by curtailing the consumption of their people; at least not for the environment*.

So what do we do?

Put all our chips into a green jobs bill and don't complicate the issue by talking about global warming.

By the way, Obama didn't chose the Senate over the UN.


He chose to kill the agreement himself rather than force the Senate to do it (which they may have preferred).

And he chose not to be honest about it by using a fig leaf far more shameful than honest nakedness.

* Though they may do it for class war purposes...

The Joke Is On Me (0.00 / 0)
I actually believed Obama wanted to do something about climate change for a while. I'm a clown.

How on earth was someone with such a weak character (4.00 / 1)
able to fool himself, and so many others, that he had what it took to be an effective president, when he so clearly doesn't? Whether it's due to a lack of principle, courage or political skills--or all three--this man is such a poor fit for the great demands of our times.

Lead, follow or get out of the way, Obama!

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

because that's what we wanted (4.00 / 1)
We didn't want change. We wanted to stick our heads in the sand and think a little better of ourselves than was possible under someone as obviously reactionary and belligerent as Bush.

He wouldn't have been able to fool us if part of us hadn't wanted to be fooled. For about two years, he was the man for our times--sad as that might be. He was in tune with the preeminent desire of the American public--to put off the really hard choices for as long as possible, while convincing ourselves that we were changing from the Bush years. And that is exactly what he has striven to do.

Now, of course, as the harsh light of reality penetrates our consciousness, so too does it penetrate the Obama mystique--and it reveals the status quo-ism and essential lack of direction that we voted for, but that we no longer want.

Buyers' remorse is setting in awfully quick. As much as he was in harmony with the public mood during the campaign, so is he out of harmony with it now.

When he won the Nobel Prize, my first thought was: "Pride goeth before a fall. This is going way too well, and it's a bad omen for the future." And so it's proven, remarkably quickly.

[ Parent ]
Obama chose corporate profits and political power over the people of the world (4.00 / 1)
With all respect to Mr. McKibben and all the good work he does, Obama turned his back on every human today for the sake of his own power and the profits of heartless corporations.

NO... (0.00 / 0)
he chose not to bring America into the brink of ruin!! Climate change is not only Amricas problem.  100 Billion in Americana Taxpayer Dollars is not going to fix anything if other polluting countries refuse to participate in the process.  Obama made a difficult choice but one that had to be made.  I think it takes more guts to make these difficult choices than it does to give in to the wacko protestors that have nothing better to do than to sit around and think of what to demostrate about this week because its the in thing to do.  Great leaders make difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions for the greater good of their country. Obama needs to concentrate on the American people, our economy, our jobs, and ending two wars.    

Shockingly ignorant (4.00 / 2)
1) The $100bn talked about is not all supposed to come from America. I release American exceptionalism makes it difficult to entertain this thought, but the USA is not the only member of the developed world.

You'd have to put in a significant sum, but I doubt it'd be any more than a third of the total and possibly less than a quarter. And given that $23bn of the $50bn promised to poor countries at Gleneagles in 2005 is now believed to be uncollectable, you'd be looking at a bill of only $10-20bn.

2) With the exception of the Chinese, other polluting countries were participating in good faith. And whilst China is the largest emitter right now, it has a very low per capita rate of emissions, much of its sum is made up of goods for the Western market and its historical emissions remain low.

Meanwhile Europe, which has emitted nearly as much as the US historically, promised a 20% cut by 2020, increasing to 30% if enough other countries raised their targets. And this is Europe, which is made up fractious countries who couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery.

No. Obama is the bad guy here. A 17% cut from 2005 levels is derisory. Even Wen upstaged him with his offer of a 50% cut in carbon intensity.

3) 'Wacko protesters'? I could rebut this in detail, but I think it's both more satisfying and more helpful to cordially invite you to go fuck yourself, you arrogant bastard.

4) It's not just America's problem, but even if you are prepared to be so shocking immoral as to shrug your shoulders whilst half of Bangladesh disappears and a nation of 150m people is forced to flee; so callous as to ignore the hundreds of thousands of deaths that even a decent deal enshrining a limit of a 2C in law would cause; so stupid as to believe that any nation would escape unscathed the acidification of the ocean that we're currently seing in the Arctic - even then, it would still be a problem for America.

The Gulf Coast is already vulnerable, as is much of the Mid-Atlantic region, and floods on the Mississippi and droughts in the heartland could both have devastating consequences. Then there's the fact that many of America's largest cities - New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston - are situated close to water and would be severely affected by rising sea levels and increased vulnerability to extreme weather events. You don't want Hurricane Katrina to be a sign of things to come, do you?

And there are other impacts aside from the purely environmental ones. Bush created a generation in western Europe which is instinctively anti-American, whilst in the rest of the world 45 years of cold war politics had more or less done that anyway. We're getting tired of the selfishness, the messianic belief in your own destiny, the stubborn intransigence. And you're a falling star. By 2050 you're going to need the rest of the world more than it needs you. And when that day comes, you're going to want allies. And if America behaves like it did at Copenhagen, by that time you're going to down to Australia and Palau.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
I don't know how old you are (0.00 / 0)
but I certainly wish you live a long healthy life.  I hope you last until your at least 110 years old.  then at that time, you can reflect back on your life and say "what a dumb fuck I was for sitting around and thinking up all the shit I did all those years.  I completely wasted my life".  

[ Parent ]
Well, it sure is more likely YOU'LL look back at your life... (0.00 / 0)
...and will have some explaining to do when your grandgrandchildren are asking why you were so totally removed from reality during these years.

Apart from this, I checked some of your older comments, and want to remind you that this is OpenLeft here and not OpenEverybody. You sure that with your more conservative stances you're at the right place here?

[ Parent ]
so (0.00 / 0)
what would you have had him do?  "Commit" to a goal that it's not in his power to commit to?  Congress will ultimately decide what the US decides to do, and while Obama can poke and prod, the power truly isn't in his hands.

Yeah, he could have directed some of the stimulus to green goals, but do you really think the changes that would cause would be sufficient to commit to to the UN?  It seems to me that big changes will need to be made, far beyond what Obama's able to promise.

Don't be absurd (0.00 / 0)
The world is watching what the US is going to do. Letting everyone just go off and do their own thing isn't going to solve this problem. BO can leverage his political power to get the Congress to do what he wants; he already has when banks or insurance companies are on the line. We can lead the world or we can damn it. Right now we're seeing BO do the latter.  

[ Parent ]
Who the hell are the seven republicans that woudl sign on (0.00 / 0)
to a meaningful climate change treaty?

The only possible way forward was either:

1) a treaty that the US did not sign, but whose terms the US enacted as law... or

2) a political agreement whose terms are enforced through law or executive order.

The US passing a treaty was never even marginally feasible, because once again, who are the SEVEN Republicans in the senate that would sign onto anything?

Obama = Failure at "Nopenhagen"! No deal, no approval. (0.00 / 0)
COPENHAGEN, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.N. climate talks descended into chaos on Saturday after some developing nations rejected a plan for fighting global warming championed by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen suspended the session after daybreak to consult lawyers on a possible way out.


That's the latest news, Rasmussen ended the talks about 2 hours ago, declaring there is no consensus for approval. Since many delegates will travel home today, it would take a miracle now to reach any compromise. The climate summit has FAILED!

And that's thx to the industrialized nations with their idiotic backroom deals, that raised suspicions, and especially to überfool Obama, who waited until yesterday evening to weigh in and try to forge a deal, leaving the majority of the participating nations to go his way or the highway. Not surprisingly, this arrogant strongarming failed.

And no matter how US media will try to spin that, this shows that Obama is a total lamer who not only has no concept of "change" at all, but even more importantly lacks the basics to be a leader. His pathetic negotiation skills may work with Senate, but are hopelessly inadequate on the international stage. It's a shame.

Pls see QHs for latest news! (0.00 / 0)
Don't fall for the spin of US corporate media. The truth is:
Copenhagen = Failure
Developed nations = Irresponsible
Obama = Loser.

[ Parent ]

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