The wars in the Middle East are a direct result of the crisis of capitalism, Indonesian activist Mahendra Ignatious told Green Left Weekly. "Obama and SBY [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] try to look democratic, but really they are robbing the people. They start wars, justified by the 'war on terror', and they continue with their neoliberal policies. In that way, Obama and SBY are similar: they work for the elites", he said.
In Sydney, the Stop the War Coalition, together with activists from the Middle East and Latin America, are preparing to highlight the continuity between the war policies of the Bush and Obama administrations.
Activists plan to sport orange jump suits, fly non-functional replica drones (robotised killing machines) and read out the names of some of the many thousands of innocent Afghan civilians who have been killed in the nine-year war and occupation.
Christine Keavney, from Sydney Stop the War Coalition, told GLW: "Despite the hopes invested in Obama, the facts speak for themselves: he is stepping up the war on the people of Afghanistan. Obama has authorised more drone attacks on Pakistan than Bush did in his eight years in office. His administration is threatening Iran, bombing Yemen and turning a blind eye to the settlement building in East Jerusalem."
"Rendition — the practice of outsourcing torture — continues. Bagram prison has been extended and Guantanamo remains open: authorities are still force-feeding the inmates. Closing Guantanamo was one of Obama's main promises. This is yet another reason to protest."
Protests are also taking place in Melbourne and Brisbane. In Melbourne, Students for Palestine have planned the protest to cap a week of activities to mark Israeli Apartheid Week. In Canberra, cardboard replicas of the MQ-1 Predator drone will greet Obama's cavalcade on his way to addressing parliament.
[Pip Hinman is an activist in the Stop the War Coalition. Details of protests against Obama's visit on page 17.]