Press "Enter" to skip to content

Obama’s Imperial Presidency

Hits: 976

Could Donald Trump already be the worst of all American presidents?  In less than two years his record on the world scene has been frightening enough: U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accords, scuttling of the Iran nuclear treaty, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, unjustifiably punitive sanctions against Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, terror bombing of Mosul and other Iraq cities, bombastic threats against friends and enemies alike – not to mention a $54 billion gift to the Pentagon and stepped-up nuclear “modernization”.  Hard to imagine much worse.

One article of faith among liberals and the corporate media is that Trump’s presidency stands alone as a house or horrors, unprecedented in its fascistic authoritarianism, crazy pronouncements, and ideological blend of xenophobia, racism, sexism, and sheer extremism.   Those in the “resistance” know that pretty much any alternative (Bill Maher, LeBron James) would be far better, though specifics — beyond Trump’s mortal sin of partnering with Putin — are rarely mentioned.   But precisely what alternatives?   Bernie Sanders?   Well, the Democratic National Committee never gave him much chance.   Obvious comparisons are Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, and his competitor, Hillary Clinton.  Obama was in charge of U.S. foreign policy for the preceding eight years, so his legacy (with plenty of help from Clinton) might be worth considering.

Obama, it turns out, was among the most militaristic White House occupants in American history, taking the imperial presidency to new heights.  It has been said that Obama was the only president whose administration was enmeshed in multiple wars from beginning to end.   His imperial ventures spanned many countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia along with proxy interventions in Yemen and Pakistan.  He ordered nearly 100,000 bombs and missiles delivered against defenseless targets, a total greater than that of the more widely-recognized warmonger George W. Bush’s total of 70,000 against five countries.  Iraq alone – where U.S. forces were supposed to have been withdrawn – was recipient of 41,000 bombs and missiles along with untold amounts of smaller ordnance. Meanwhile, throughout his presidency Obama conducted hundreds of drone attacks in the Middle East, more than doubling Bush’s total, all run jointly (and covertly) by the CIA and Air Force.

Obama engineered two of the most brazen regime-change operations of the postwar era, in Libya (2011) and Ukraine (2014), leaving both nations reduced to a state of ongoing civil war and economic ruin.   For the past seven years Libya has been overrun by an assortment of militias, jihadic groups, and local strongmen – predictable result of the U.S./NATO bombing offensive to destroy the secular nationalist (and modernizing) Kadafi regime.   This was purportedly Secretary of State Clinton’s biggest moment of glory, her imperialist gloating on full display following Kadafi’s assassination.   As this is written conditions in Libya worsen by the day, reports surfacing of hundreds of people killed during violent clashes in the suburbs of Tripoli as rival militias fight for control of the capital.  Militias now exercise control over ports, airfields, and much of the oil infrastructure.  More tens of thousands of Libyans are being forced from their homes, a development greeted with silence at CNN and kindred media outlets.

United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric recently decried this violence, noting the indiscriminate shelling by armed groups killing civilians, including children.   Not to be outdone, the U.S. (joined by a few European states) issued a statement condemning the violence in Libya, reading in part: “We urge armed groups to immediately cease all military actions and warn those who tamper with security in Tripoli or elsewhere in Libya that they will be held accountable for any such actions.”   How thoughtful of those very military actors who, with U.N. blessing, brought nothing but endless death and destruction to the Libyan people.

In Ukraine, as Vladimir Putin was being demonized as the “new Hitler”, real fascists (or at least neo-fascists) were installed in power through the well-planned and generously-funded conspiracy of Obama’s neocon functionaries, led by Victoria Nuland and cheered on by such visiting notables as John McCain, Joe Biden, and John Brennan — all scheming to bring the Kiev regime into the NATO/European Union orbit.   The puppet Poroshenko regime has since 2014 been given enough American economic and military largesse to finance its warfare against separatists in the Russian-speaking Donbass region, resulting in more than 10,000 deaths, with no end in sight.  Following the gruesome pattern of Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Ukrainian society descends into deepening chaos and violence with no end in sight.

It is easy to forget that it was the Obama administration that planned and carried out the first phases of the Mosul operation (begun in October 2016) which produced hundreds of thousands of casualties (with at least 40,000 dead), left a city of two million in Dresden-like state of rubble, and drove nearly a million civilians into exile.  The same fate, on smaller scale, was brought to other Sunni-majority cities in Iraq, including Ramadi, Tikrit, and Fallujah (already destroyed by U.S. forces in 2004).    Whatever the official goal, and however many secondary collaborators were involved, these were monstrous war crimes by any reckoning.

After calling for a nuclear-free world (and receiving a Nobel Peace Prize for that promise), Obama reversed course and embarked on the most ambitious U.S. nuclear upgrading since the early 1950s – the same project inherited by Trump.   Speaking in Prague in 2009, the president called for total abolition of nukes, saying “the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those [nuclear] weapons have not . . .  Our efforts to contain these dangers [must be] centered on a global non-proliferation regime.”   A laudable objective to be sure.  But for a price tag of one trillion dollars (over two decades), Obama decided to create new missile delivery systems, expand the arsenal of tactical warheads, and fund a new cycle of bombers and submarines – all with little political or media notice.  These initiatives violated the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty prohibiting such moves, while essentially blocking any genuine efforts toward nuclear reduction and nonproliferation.

In the months before Obama departed the White House he laid the groundwork for a new, more dangerous, Cold War with Russia.  This agenda, negating earlier plans for a “reset” with the Putin government, would be multi-faceted – expanded NATO forces along Russian borders, renewed support for the oligarch Poroshenko in Ukraine, new and harsher economic sanctions, expulsion of diplomats, accelerated cyberwarfare, charges of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.  Not only has this strategy, eagerly advanced by the Clintonites and their media allies, brought new levels of insanity to American politics, it has left the two nuclear powers menacingly closer to armed confrontation than even at the peak of the Cold War.

Obama’s contributions to a more robust imperial presidency went further.  Collaborating with Israel and Saudi Arabia, he stoked the Syrian civil war by lending “rebel” fighters crucial material, logistical, and military aid for what Clinton – anticipating electoral victory – believed would bring yet another cheerful episode of regime change, this one leaving the U.S. face-to-face with the Russians.  During his tenure in office, moreover, Obama would deploy more special-ops troops around the globe (to more than 70 countries) than any predecessor.

Many liberals and more than a few progressives – not to mention large sectors of the media intelligentsia — will find it difficult to reconcile the picture of an aggressively imperialist Obama with the more familiar image of a thoughtful, articulate politician who laced his talks with references to peace, arms control, and human rights.  But this very dualism best corresponds to the historical reality.   In his book The Obama Syndrome, Tariq Ali writes: “From Palestine through Iraq, Obama has acted as just another steward of the American empire, pursuing the same aims as his predecessors, with the same means but with more emollient rhetoric.”   He adds: “Historically, the model for the current variant of imperial presidency is Woodrow Wilson, no less pious a Christian, whose every second word was peace, democracy, or self-determination, while his armies invaded Mexico, occupied Haiti, and attacked Russia [yes, Russia!], and his treaties handed one colony after another to his partners in war.  Obama is a hand-me-down version of the same, without even Fourteen Points to betray.”

As the 2018 midterm elections approach, Obama has chosen to depart from historical norm and go on the attack against a Trump presidency viewed as signifying all that is evil.   A Democratic victory would reject Trump’s “dark vision of the the nation and restore honesty, decency, and lawfulness to the American government”.  In his first speech Obama said that orchestrated public fear has created conditions “ripe for exploitation by politicians who have no compunction and no shame about tapping into America’s dark history of racial and ethnic and religious division.”  Does Obama need to be reminded that such “dark history” also includes militarism and imperialism?

Whatever one’s view of the Trump phenomenon in its totality, the amount of death and destruction he has brought to the world does not (yet) come close to Obama’s record of warfare, drone strikes, regime changes, military provocations, and global deployments.   If neocon interests have come to shape U.S. foreign policy, those interests have so far been more fully embraced by Obama and the Clintonites than by Trump, despite the scary presence of Trump’s hawkish circle of lieutenants.  Unfortunately, Obama’s eight years of imperial aggression elicited strikingly few liberal or progressive voices of dissent across the political and media terrain. He enjoyed nearly complete immunity from protest at a time when even the smallest vestiges of a once-vigorous American antiwar movement had disappeared from the scene.


Originally published on 2018-09-14

About the author: Carl Boggs is the author of several recent books, including Fascism Old and New (2018), Origins of the Warfare State (2016), and Drugs, Power, and Politics (2015).  He can be reached at ceboggs@nu.edu.

Source: Counter Punch

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

READ MORE!
Russia and the Cold War 2.0
The Cold War 1.0It is a pure historical fact that “in a sharp reversal of its withdrawal from Europe after 1918, after the end of World War II Washington employed all available tools of public and cultural diplomacy to influence the hearts and minds of Europeans”[1] as a strategy of the US-led Cold War policy against the USSR,[2] and after 1991 against Russia up today. Undoubtedly, the US succeeded after 1990 to transform herself into a sole global military-political hegemonic power – an unprecedented case in the world’s history.[3]It is usually and generally considered that the end of the USSR ...
READ MORE
The Serbian Holocaust in Srebrenica (Bosnia) and her Vicinity in 1992-1995 (photo album)
A Serb from Bosnia, General Mladic, protected Muslims civilians and gave them buses, food and water for to leave fighting zones (as you can see). There was no genocide over Muslim population in Srebrenica like main stream media want you to believe – there was no genocide over Bosniaks because all Bosnian Muslims victims were jihad fighters who had been killed during fight (in war). Even the so called „tribunal“ in The Hague for ex-Yugoslavia admitted that there was no genocide! Now,  you can see here how djihadistes have treated the Serbian population – the content is very hard, not for ...
READ MORE
Close Bonsteel in Kosovo and Metohija!
Rising tensions in the global relations and hot beds of old and new crisis call for unity and efforts of all peace forces for closing foreign military bases, particularly U.S. and NATO foreign military bases, around the globe. The peace forces are obligated to send clear message that U.S. and NATO foreign military bases represent the tools of hegemonism, aggression, occupation, and that as such must be closed. Peace and inclusive development, elimination of hunger and misery require redistribution of spending for maintence of military bases in favor of development needs, education and heath services. After the end of the Cold ...
READ MORE
US Meddling in Foreign Elections: A CIA Tradition since 1948
In a shocking display of relative independence from the post-Operation Mockingbird control of the media by the Central Intelligence Agency, a recent article in The New York Times broke with current conventional pack journalism and covered the long history of CIA meddling in foreign elections. A February 17, 2018, article, titled, "Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too," authored by Scott Shane – who covered the perestroika and glasnost for The Baltimore Sun in Moscow from 1988 to 1991 during the final few years of the Soviet Union – reported the US has interfered in foreign elections for decades. However, ...
READ MORE
Inside Kosovo’s Islamist Cauldron
Kacanik, KOSOVO – A plume of smoke hangs over our table in the corner of a dark, shabby café in this rugged town in southern Kosovo. The lanky 19-year-old sitting next to me is chain-smoking through half a pack of L&Ms, his hands trembling as he recalls how he joined one of the world's most brutal militant Islamist groups. Through his neatly trimmed beard, Adem, who asks me not to use his real name for fear of arrest, says he had never even left Kosovo. But two years ago, he found himself on the perilous and far-off Turkey-Syria border -- a ...
READ MORE
As Holocaust Memories Fade, Nazi Glorification must be Resisted
The Holocaust and the tragic events that befell the Jewish community in the Second World War are fast fading from Canadians’ memories.A recent survey by The Azrieli Foundation showed an alarming 52% of Canadian millennials cannot name even one concentration camp and 62% did not know six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.It is essential that Canadians help preserve Holocaust memory and speak out against those who engage in denial, distortion or obfuscation. This is a perilous time, particularly for Jewish communities in Europe.The rise of extremist forces on the right is a critical challenge. Witness the recent targeting ...
READ MORE
A New Age of Global Security: The ‚Ukrainian Question‘ and ‚Kosovo Precedent‘
Article by Vladislav B. Sotirović:  „A New Age of Global Security: The ‚Ukrainian Question‘ and ‚Kosovo Precedent‘“, Vojno delo (Military affairs), Interdisciplinary Scientific Theoretical Journal, International edition, Vol. 69, Issue 4, 2017 (May-June 2017), ISSN 0042-8426, Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia, pp. 176−211. Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
READ MORE
Neocon Imperialism, 9/11, and the Attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq
One way to understand the effect of 9/11, in most general terms, is to see that it allowed the agenda developed in the 1990s by neoconservatives—-often called simply “neocons”—to be implemented. There is agreement on this point across the political spectrum. From the right, for example, Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke say that 9/11 allowed the “preexisting ideological agenda” of the neoconservatives to be “taken off the shelf . . . and relabeled as the response to terror.”1 Stephen Sniegoski, writing from the left, says that “it was only the traumatic effects of the 9/11 terrorism that enabled the agenda ...
READ MORE
The Status of Kosovo and Metohija: Brussels Unites the Albanians and Divides the Serbs
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) guaranteeing sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and the autonomy of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia, is the highest binding legal document that obliges all UN members, including the member states of the EU, NATO, the OSCE, the OIC, the African Union.Resolution 1244 is the only reliable basis and the framework for any negotiations concerning status. Owing to grave mistakes made by the former Serbian authorities, the UN system has produced certain damaging documents of advisory and non-binding character. It is vital that no similar or even greater mistakes are made either presently ...
READ MORE
UN Anti-Nazi Resolution 10 Year Anniversary: Syria, Israel and North Korea Support It, US Adamantly Opposes It
Throughout the past decade, the UN General Assembly Third Committee has adopted the resolution: “Combating Glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”Every year the resolution is adopted by an overwhelming majority of UN member states, while the European Union, which, as the battleground of Nazism should have supported the resolution, merely abstains, and their fence-straddling raises disturbing questions about their actual tendencies. Japan’s abstention raises equally disturbing questions. The United States has consistently, and shockingly, opposed this resolution.The resolution is sponsored by the Russian Federation, which ...
READ MORE
Who Rules America: Globalization and Geopolitics
The prophets and forecasters for the coming year have already set out their global vision ranging from rising economies to catastrophic global wars. I want to argue from a different perspective, focusing on the increasing subdivision of markets, the deepening autonomy of political action from economic development, the greater threat of military interventions and increasing political accommodation.  I believe that we will experience a radical making and remaking of political and economic integration, East and West, within and without nations states.  ‘States Rights’ will re-emerge as an antidote to globalization.  Big countries will compete in regional wars with limited commitments but ...
READ MORE
Geopolitics of Kosovo
The ethnic demarcation that is promoted by Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, between Serbs and Albanians is just another name for the creation of Greater Albania. Vucic statements and spinning of the necessity for the "demarcation" between Serbia and Kosovo caused shock among Serbs. Most of his political life, Vucic advocated for a Greater Serbia, but with coming to power, things changed. Against his demarcation is virtually the entire Serbia. From experts to the pillar and base of Serbs throughout history Serbian Orthodox Church. A few years ago, I wrote in my analytical column that Vucic came to power with the ...
READ MORE
Why NATO/US’s “Collateral Damage” and “Errors” are not a War Crime?
Many innocent civilians were killed in American military interventions around the world – from Vietnam and Serbia to Iran and Afghanistan, because of the alleged “errors” or “collateral damage” – without consequences for civil and military leadership. In addition to political, military and every other power, Americans secured itself with legal mechanisms. Twenty-two civilians, wounded and doctors, among them three children, were killed in the American bombing of a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. Americans acknowledged the error and apologized. The President of the United States expressed his condolences, the military leadership announced three independent investigations. “Doctors without borders” ...
READ MORE
Ukraine: Fascist Dictatorship Masquerading as Democracy
For the first time since WW II, overt fascists hold real power in Europe. Radicalized ultranationalists. Anti-Semites. Hate-mongers. Cold-blooded killers. Whitewashing high crimes. A puppet regime. America’s newest colony. Mocking democratic values. Violating fundamental rule of law principles. Unaccountably. Western leaders won’t explain. Nor will the media. Hard truths are buried. Ukraine’s government usurped power forcibly. Putschist rule has no legitimacy. Especially regimes waging war on their own people. Murdering them in cold blood. Committing horrendous human rights abuses. Tolerating no opposition. Ruling by intimidation. Force-feeding neoliberal harshness on impoverished people. Making life unbearable overall. More on this below. On December 4, Wall Street Journal editors published ...
READ MORE
Save Donbass People from Ukrainian Euromaidan Army
SaveSaveOrigins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
READ MORE
West Rules Macedonia (FYROM) as a US-EU Protectorate, To Put a Check on Russian Influence in the Balkans
A year ago, at a closed-doors meeting between the USA and EU officials and the leaders of the four major parties of FYROM in Strasbourg, a route map for the resolution of the protracted political crisis was agreed on (or rather imposed). The roots of this political crisis are to be found outside FYROM: it is actually more a confrontation by proxy between “the West”, which supports the opposition, and Russia, which is trying to maintain its influence in the region. In conjunction with the public discontent at government policies and the escalating corruption, the negotiations have contributed to sharpening ...
READ MORE
The 2014 Ukraine Coup was as Much about China as Russia
The events which led to the 2014 coup in Ukraine are generally blamed on anti-Russia actors, including the United States and EU.Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was recently in the EU where he said the following,“The largely-provoked-from-the-outside Ukrainian crisis has become the direct consequence of such short-sighted policy of Washington and Brussels”.He continued,“We hope that Germany and France, as partners within the Normandy format, as well as the US who have a special influence on the Kiev establishment, will use their means to change the situation”.Lavrov went on to define his hopes for Ukraine stating,“We want to see Ukraine a ...
READ MORE
The Death of Milosevic and NATO’s Responsibility: Was He Assassinated?
On March 11, 2006, President Slobodan Milosevic died in a NATO prison. No one has been held accountable for his death. In the 12 years since the end of his lonely struggle to defend himself and his country against the false charges invented by the NATO powers, the only country to demand a public inquiry into the circumstances of his death came from Russia when Foreign Minister, Serge Lavrov, stated that Russia did not accept the Hague tribunal’s denial of responsibility and demanded that an impartial and international investigation be conducted. Instead, The NATO tribunal made its own investigation, known ...
READ MORE
Anne Frank of Kosovo Propaganda Hoax
One of the biggest and most outlandish US infowar and propaganda whoppers of the 1999 Kosovo conflict was the infamous NPR story of the ethnic Albanian Anne Frank. This seems like a mindless, unethical, immoral, and vicious, racist propaganda hoax today, using propaganda to destroy an entire people, Serbian Orthodox Christians. The Anne Frank infowar campaign was manufactured to support an illegal land grab in Kosovo, in support of a Muslim Albanian separatist and secessionist terrorist war against Serbian Christians. But at the time it was very popular and helped sell the US bombing of Yugoslavia in support of Albanian ...
READ MORE
Five Myths about American Indians
Thanksgiving recalls for many people a meal between European colonists and indigenous Americans that we have invested with all the symbolism we can muster. But the new arrivals who sat down to share venison with some of America’s original inhabitants relied on a raft of misconceptions that began as early as the 1500s, when Europeans produced fanciful depictions of the “New World.” In the centuries that followed, captivity narratives, novels, short stories, textbooks, newspapers, art, photography, movies and television perpetuated old stereotypes or created new ones — particularly ones that cast indigenous peoples as obstacles to, rather than actors in, ...
READ MORE
Russia and the Cold War 2.0
The Serbian Holocaust in Srebrenica (Bosnia) and her Vicinity in 1992-1995 (photo album)
Close Bonsteel in Kosovo and Metohija!
US Meddling in Foreign Elections: A CIA Tradition since 1948
Inside Kosovo’s Islamist Cauldron
As Holocaust Memories Fade, Nazi Glorification must be Resisted
A New Age of Global Security: The ‚Ukrainian Question‘ and ‚Kosovo Precedent‘
Neocon Imperialism, 9/11, and the Attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq
The Status of Kosovo and Metohija: Brussels Unites the Albanians and Divides the Serbs
UN Anti-Nazi Resolution 10 Year Anniversary: Syria, Israel and North Korea Support It, US Adamantly Opposes It
Who Rules America: Globalization and Geopolitics
Geopolitics of Kosovo
Why NATO/US’s “Collateral Damage” and “Errors” are not a War Crime?
Ukraine: Fascist Dictatorship Masquerading as Democracy
Save Donbass People from Ukrainian Euromaidan Army
West Rules Macedonia (FYROM) as a US-EU Protectorate, To Put a Check on Russian Influence in the Balkans
The 2014 Ukraine Coup was as Much about China as Russia
The Death of Milosevic and NATO’s Responsibility: Was He Assassinated?
Anne Frank of Kosovo Propaganda Hoax
Five Myths about American Indians
Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.