The Legacy of Barack Obama

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Something that is becoming both very apparent and very disturbing to me is the fact that there still exist people who revere the soon-to-be retired US President Barack H. Obama as some kind of liberal hero. Even after 8 long years of maintaining the status quo, catering to the wealthy and continuing military aggression and intervention abroad, this illusory myth is still being perpetuated. It baffles me how rare it is for a person to judge a politician on the basis of their policies rather than just how they sound on television. It is evident that the majority of US citizens tend to live in a metaphorical ‘information bubble,’ being hopelessly detached and ignorant of what’s really going on in the world.

So, without further adieu, here are just a few reasons why it is obvious that President Obama was nothing more than a political tool for the establishment.

1. Civil Rights

The Patriot Act was a bill originally drafted in 2001 by George W. Bush. This atrocious piece of legislation granted the NSA unlimited power to spy on, wire-tap, and harvest the information of any US citizen without a warrant. This bill was a serious violation of the fourth amendment and effectively removed any illusions we may have had about our supposed ‘right to privacy.’ Obama originally claimed to be vigorously opposed to such legislation during his first campaign. But then, wouldn’t you know it, when the bill expired and the time came to either renew or annul it,  Obama chose to renew it and continue the unlawful surveillance. Since then, the Patriot Act expired again in 2015, but the provisions contained in it which permit government spying have been continued through another piece of legislation called the Freedom Act. And surely we haven’t forgotten about Edward Snowden, have we?

On December 31, 2011 Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA). This was a ‘national defense’ bill that essentially authorized the federal government to indefinitely detain or assassinate any U.S. citizen without a trial. Not only that, it guaranteed that Guantanamo Bay, the infamous torture chamber that Obama originally campaigned on closing, will be kept open for the foreseeable future. This bill in effect strips US citizens of their sixth amendment rights and gives the federal government the power to assassinate or arrest you without any form of due process. It also ensures that the human rights violations in Guantanamo Bay will continue. One might also say this legislation has the potential to alienate the Arab population in the US even further by putting them at greater risk of being profiled and unlawfully detained based on their race.

In 2010 the Supreme Court held a case titled Holder v. Humanitarian Law ProjectIn this case the Obama administration proposed legislation which was passed that criminalized a legitimate form of humanitarian aid. This legislation made it illegal for humanitarian groups to meet with individuals branded as ‘suspected terrorists’ (according to a terror watch list that is far from infallible) and encourage them to embrace non-violent means of resistance. To do this would be considered “material assistance to terrorism,” according to the bill. This was a severe attack on individual rights and humanitarian efforts.

2. The Rich got Richer

All you have to do to discern where a politician’s loyalty lies is look at who’s funding their campaign. If the answer is a mass of large corporations and banks, chances are their loyalty does not lie with the working class, but rather with the elite ruling class. Presented here is a list of just a few of Obama’s top campaign donors –

Goldman Sachs

JPMorgan Chase & Co

Citigroup

Time Warner

General Electric

IBM Corp

Morgan Stanley

Wells Fargo

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If that’s not enough, here’s a list of some of the major the banks and corporations Obama bailed out by fleecing the taxpayers of the middle class –

JPMorgan Chase & Co

Wells Fargo

Goldman Sachs

AIG

Fannie Mae

General Motors

Chrysler

Citigroup

American Express

Bank of America

Freddie Mac

Capital Bank

IBW Financial Corporation

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And keep in mind – this is just barely scratching the surface. The list goes on and on. It’s also notable that Obama continued the very same tax-cuts for the rich that Bush put in place. Does that sound like someone who truly cares for the working class?

Moreover, have you ever heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP)? The TPP is an international  trade agreement that President Obama has described as “good for everyone.” This terrible deal restricts internet freedom, threatens the environment, restricts access to medical care, and gives corporations unscrupulous amounts of power over land and resources all over the world, all in one blow. But that’s just a few small provisions within the deal. This is a very large, complex piece of legislation,  and there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. Presented below is a video that explains the TPP in more depth:

3. Foreign Policy

This issue is perhaps the most glaring one, yet seems to be what people are typically the most ignorant about. That Obama is some kind of champion of peace who pulled the US out of Iraq is a myth which still seems to be enduring among the less informed of the masses. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the truth is, Obama has bombed twice as many countries as Bush.

The Council on Foreign relations determined that the US dropped a total of 23,144 bombs on Muslim-majority countries in 2015 alone.

U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria have killed between 850 to 1,200 civilians in our alleged offensive against ISIS. Not only that, there have also been accounts of US airstrikes targeting Assad regime forces, inadvertently helping  ISIS gain power and territory in the region. That doesn’t even include the amount of innocent people slaughtered by the US-backed ‘Syrian rebels,’ who have admitted to having explicit ties to ISIS and been the recipient of a massive cash-flow of funding, training and artillery from the US. These policies do nothing but fuel the flames of the civil war in Syria and further destabilize the region, which is beneficial to US policy, as it gives us a basis for permanent intervention for our own interests and pursuits.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, U.S. airstrikes are killing civilians in Afghanistan at the highest rate in seven years. Since 2010, Obama  has sent a total of 34,000  troops into Afghanistan in an escalation to an already failed occupation that is exhausting our deficit and taking countless innocent lives.

In 2013, Obama increased the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, effectively reversing any progress that was made in the way of ending the occupation and withdrawing our military presence from the region.

Obama’s drone program is perhaps one of the most detestable, inhumane offenses launched by the Obama administration. Studies have shown that nearly 90% of U.S. drone strike victims are not the intended target. Former drone pilot veterans have gone on record to speak out about the inhumanity of the program, stating that  these drone strikes are “aiding terrorist recruitment,” and thus undermining the program’s goal of eliminating such fighters. They have witnessed drone operators regularly referring to children as “fun-sized terrorists,” and likening killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 2,499 and 4,001 people, including 207 children, and injured 1,744. Drone strikes have killed between 2,276 and 2,998 people in Afghanistan, including 181 children, injuring 339.  In Somalia, drone strikes have killed between 242 and 418 people. In Yemen, drone strikes have killed 848 people, including over 100 children, and injuring 132 civilians.

President Obama is also the first Unites States President to have killed a U.S. citizen in a drone strike. Abdulrahem al-Awlaki was a 16 year-old Denver-born Yemeni-American teenager that was assassinated by a drone strike with absolutely no explanation given. Abdularahem was son to Anwar al-Awlaki, a ‘suspected terrorist’ who was never given a trial or proven guilty, nor was any evidence gathered whatsoever that his son had any ties to terrorism. Anwar and his son were killed in two separate attacks, meaning that his 16-year-old son was specifically targeted and assassinated by U.S. drone strike.

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Even though Obama has been portrayed by the media as ‘undermining’ US relations with the state of Israel, the reality is that in terms of policy, Obama has been very generous with the hawkish regime. Obama has increased the flow of military aid to Israel over the passed 8 years, beginning at the start of his presidency when he implimented what he called a ‘Memorandum of Understanding which promised Israel a total of $30 billion in military aid over the following decade. Since then, Obama recently signed a record-high military aid package to Israel of over $38 billion, the largest military aid package in US history. For those who are unaware, Israel is an incredibly militaristic and brutal regime, notorious for war crimes and human rights violations. During Israel’s last bombardment of Gaza, a 51-day operation which the Israeli military called “Operation Protective Edge” over 2,250 Palestinians were killed, 513 of them being children.

All this to say, perhaps this man was given Nobel Peace Prize just a bit too hastily, I think it would be only honest of him to return it.

In closing, it is clear to me that President Obama has, as many politicians do, gone back on his word and failed to keep his promises. It is clear to me that he was little more than a false hope to bleeding heart liberals and radicals all across America. Given a critical analysis of his policies, it is clear that he did little more than protect the status quo, cater to the ruling class, and continue the hawkish aggression and human rights violations which the U.S. is known for — the very same sentiment our new President-elect Donald J. Trump represents. I believe it is very important to acknowledge this and to hold our politicians accountable whether they are a Republican or they are a Democrat.

Brian Hazel

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The Legacy of Barack Obama

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