Barack Obama’s election victory in 2008 received various top public relations awards, including “Best Marketing of the Year”, easily beating Apple.
The reality is Obama and his campaigners conned tens of millions of people, not just in the United States, but throughout the West – by expert propaganda techniques capped by the simple phrase, “Yes we can”. Obama’s popularity in western Europe in particular was remarkable.
Even by late 2016, Obama remained greatly admired in the powerhouse of Europe, Germany, with 86% saying they “had confidence in his leadership”. Going by such polls, it seems large numbers of Germans were unaware of the methods of Obama’s international drone terrorist campaign. The much-maligned ISIS and Al Qaeda could simply not match its destruction.
The drones wiped out thousands of innocent men, women and children, while tearing up the principles of the UN Charter, international law and Magna Carta. The unmanned drone attacks, a particularly cowardly form of warfare, have led more enraged people towards extremist fundamentalist groups.
In late 2014 reports emerged that the Obama administration, in a documented example, had targeted 41 suspected terrorists with drones – killing 1,147 people in the process, including many children. For every possible terrorist killed, an average of 28 people were also wiped out. By October 2015, it emerged that almost 90% of those killed in the drone assaults “were not the intended targets” – therefore innocent civilians.
The decorated former US Army General, Stanley McChrystal, supreme commander of US forces in Afghanistan said, “For every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies”. Further critical of Obama’s foreign policies, McChrystal’s time at the top was brief and he was replaced by General David Petraeus – with the situation in Afghanistan later descending into chaos.
Obama had previously assured, “Before any [drone] strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured”. US intelligence describes drone attacks as “precise” and “clinical” while John Kerry as Secretary of State said, “The only people we fire a drone at are confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level, after a great deal of vetting that takes a long period of time”. It is safe to say such statements are complete fantasy meant to dupe an unsuspecting public.
On other fronts, Obama’s backing of an overt famine war against Yemen conducted by the US’s major ally, Saudi Arabia, resulted in a long-standing and grave humanitarian crisis that continues. The illegal conflict against the Yemeni people – along with British support – has destroyed the country’s social fabric, killed over 10,000 people, while inducing the worst cholera epidemic in history. Obama provided $50 billion of military aid to the Saudis, more than any previous American President.
Upon taking office, Obama stepped up the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, fulfilling promises made during his election campaign. Afghanistan’s then President Hamid Karzai, in a first communiqué with Obama, urged his US counterpart to stop bombing Afghan civilian areas, which went ignored. President Karzai also told a UN delegation he wanted a timetable for withdrawal of American troops from his country. To this day US soldiers remain in the besieged state, with a further surge taking place under current incumbent Donald Trump.
In 2011 Obama performed the lead role in invading Libya, flanked by the two old imperial powers of Britain and France – another tragic Western intervention which left the north African country in ruins. Last year Obama said the Libyan invasion was his “worst mistake”, while at the same time maintaining it was “the right thing to do”. The after-effects for millions of Libyans went unmentioned.
Obama subsequently absolved himself of much of the blame on Libya by castigating David Cameron, Britain’s then Prime Minister, for afterwards being “distracted by a range of other things”. The comment was reported to have strained sensitive nerves in Downing Street.
Nor was the French President at the time spared Obama’s criticism. The US President said Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to “trumpet the role France was playing in the air campaign, despite the fact we [the US] had wiped out all the air defences and essentially set up the entire infrastructure”. It appears Obama wished to take all credit for the illegal intervention.
In Syria, the Obama administration strongly supported terrorist groups in a disastrous conflict against Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian army, later backed by Russia and Iran. As far back as 2012, US officials were already aware that the largest share of American arms was “going to the rapidly growing Al Qaeda presence in the country [Syria]”.
In the middle of Obama’s “global war on terror” the US military was funding Al Qaeda and other offshoots in Syria. In the mainstream press it was widely reported such US aid was going towards “moderates forces” or “Syrian rebels”, interesting descriptions for affiliates of Al Qaeda.
On the domestic front, perhaps the most poignant reflection of Obama’s policies was his “betrayal of African-Americans”, as the journalist Chris Hedges described it. Despite being the first African-American president in history, black people in the US endured higher poverty and unemployment rates under Obama than during his predecessor George W. Bush.
The worst African-American unemployment figure under Bush was 12.1%, while under Obama it soared to 16.8% by 2011 – the highest unemployment rate among black people since 1983 (the Ronald Reagan era). The highest number of black people enduring poverty under Bush was one in four, 25%, but that figure rose to 28% under Obama in 2013.
Andrew Jackson, an African-American and graduate of Louisiana State University, said of Obama’s legacy, “We thought our dreams would be more visible under Obama. They’re not”. Despite today working three different jobs Jackson earns just $22,000 a year, while owing more than $20,000 in school loans.
Jackson is a classic example of the plight of black people in the US. In addition there has been a rise in unlawful killings of black men at the hands of police officers, in what are effectively miniature police states.
In the overall scheme, it would be unfair on Obama to suggest his tenure was as destructive as past presidents like Reagan or Bush II. The Obama era did not bear witness to a widespread terrorist war in Latin America, or a massive land invasion in the form of Iraq. In that regard he was “weak”, as often described by hawkish figures; he certainly was that in his failure to close the US military prison at Guantanamo, which grossly violates human rights.
Yet Obama’s policies of favouring the elite – continuing from those sitting in office during the past four decades – led to disillusioned Americans electing an unknown maverick in Donald Trump.