As Obama leaves office the media acts teary eyed and prepares to say farewell to their beloved “liberal” icon, yet President Obama is a war criminal, arguably worse than his predecessor George W. Bush.
Obama has also taken an incredibly tough stance on “whistleblowers” who have been brave enough to release documents illustrating shocking crimes by the American government against both their own citizens and at war. The leaks revealed information vital to the public interest, yet Obama still punished them as if they are criminals who posed a threat to the national interest — when they clearly didn’t.
This indicates that far from being a liberal icon, Obama is just like every other American President, and deserves to be remembered as such.
When Obama came into office America was bombing four countries, under his presidency it became seven. In 2016 America dropped 26,172 bombs on people in those seven countries killing farmers, funeral mourners, people attending wedding parties, and children playing football — they were just some of the innocent victims of his atrocities. He is the first President to have kept the US at war for his entire 8-year span in office.
These wars are a continuation of those started by George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks. They have done nothing to stop terrorists or quash Islamic terrorism (the stated aim of the wars) instead, they have had the opposite effect: they have increased the amount of terrorism in the world. When the post 9-11 wars started, radical Islamic terrorism was located in a small region of Afghanistan, it has now spread to almost every corner of the world. The US itself is well aware that its aggressive foreign policy creates far more terrorists than it stops. Of course, the legality of these wars or ‘interventions” has never really been called into question, but make no mistake they are illegal under international law.
Obama has also continued to support the most brutal Islamic regime on the face of the earth: Saudi Arabia — a country where they have public beheadings for crimes such as adultery and witchcraft. This includes the selling of billions of dollars worth of arms to the Saudis for use in the on-going Yemen conflict.
Speaking about the humanitarian crisis that the Yemen war is causing, Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, Oxfam Country Director in Yemen said:
Ground fighting, shelling and airstrikes by all warring parties have compounded an already severe food crisis and could push Yemen to the edge, with 7.6 million people already severely food insecure. People desperately need food and water, medicine and health services, they need aid that can reach them – ultimately they need the conflict to end so they can rebuild their lives. All those fuelling Yemen’s tragedy need to stop being arms brokers and start becoming peace brokers. The international community must redouble its efforts to help bring this crisis to a peaceful resolution.
Obama’s continued and shocking use of drones to illegally assassinate people suspected of perhaps, one day being a terrorist by him, has claimed many innocent victims and is not only a gross violation of international law, it flies completely against the very basis of the western judicial system by denying due process and the right to a fair trial for those accused — instead preferring to simply kill them.
Obama’s execution of Osama Bin Laden illustrates yet another way in which he has no regard for the rule of law. Bin Laden’s assassination has gone largely unchallenged in the west and has been hailed as a great triumph for Obama. However, the fact that he did not even attempt to arrest Bin laden before killing him, and give him a fair trial means that we will never be certain of Bin laden’s guilt, violating the principles of international law established at the American-led Nuremberg Trials.
The illegal detention center set-up under Bush — Guantanamo Bay – remains open as Obama leaves office, despite issuing an executive order to close it down on his second day in office. While Obama has helped to reduce the number of detainees held in Guantanamo, there are no plans to close it — considering that it was set up illegally, violates principles of international law, has been condemned by the UN, and is a place of torture which Amnesty international described as a modern Gulag there is absolutely no reason for Obama’s failure to shut it down. Once again far from combatting Islamic Terrorism, American policy has had the opposite effect. Obama made it clear that he is well aware of this during a speech in 2009, saying:
instead of serving as a tool to counter-terrorism, Guantánamo became a symbol that helped al-Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantánamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.
Obama’s treatment of “whistle-blowers” Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning doesn’t fare much better. Snowden remains in hiding in Russia, unable to return to the US for a fair trial and is still considered a criminal by the states for releasing important documents showing the scope of American and British state surveillance of citizens, a gross violation of the basic right to privacy and data collection laws by both governments.
US Army Private Chelsea Manning has suffered years of imprisonment for releasing documents that exposed the illegal detainment of innocent people in Guantanamo Bay, uninvestigated reports of torture during the Iraq War, the extent of torture by the US Army, civilian casualties, contractor abuse and the role that corporate interests play in US wars, among many other important matters of public interest.
Both Snowden and Manning were accused, and in the case of Manning prosecuted, and convicted for releasing the documents, supposedly for putting national security at risk. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison by the US government under Obama’s administration in 2013 and, although Obama recently announced that he would cut the sentence short, and free her early — his decision should not mean that we mitigate the fact that she should not have been there in the first place. Manning recently tried to commit suicide during her imprisonment — clearly, this was a cruel, brutal and unnecessary punishment.
That Snowden and Manning should be charged with posing a risk to national security is a claim that has, to this date, failed to be evidenced by the US government and Obama. Both deserve to be treated like national heroes for the work they have done. All of the information released by them was in the public interest, and they should be thanked and commended for their bravery. Instead of being pursued by Obama as enemies of the state.
Unfortunately, Obama’s record on Israel fares no better than any other Presidents. He has continued to support the brutality of Israel, its far-right government, and its brutal occupation of Palestine — including signing a $38 billion military aid pact with them, in what the state department described as being the:
single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in US history
Obama may well go down in history as being some sort of liberal icon — he isn’t. Iconic leaders tend to be mythologised by history, people like Thatcher and Reagan are cast as being powerful, decisive, and daring visionaries who weren’t afraid to unleash the power of the free market. They are still hailed today as if they are heroes who saved the west from its inevitable economic decay — the opposite is true of course, both accelerated, and most likely caused the dismal economic, neo-liberal nightmare which we now inhabit. John Ford Kennedy is still lauded today by many as being a peace-keeper, despite bringing us to the near brink of nuclear war and ramping up the Vietnam war.
As the US prepares itself for the unpredictable, and potentially devasting impact of the impending Trump presidency it will be easy and tempting to reminisce and romanticise the days of Obama. However, this does not change the fact that Obama is yet another Presidential war criminal responsible for carrying out massive atrocities across the world, and of course, just like all others will face absolutely no justice.