Is Obama a militant?

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama, is regarded by many as one of the less militant presidents of the United States. With the American elections coming up perhaps it is apt to ask whether this is a fair or misguided assessment of his term in office.
In his inauguration speech Obama asserts that “America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.” There has been plenty of analysis trying to ascertain the meanings within this speech, much of it speculation. Now that four years have passed some more concrete evidence can be provided.
Under the new administration the US has been carrying out drone strikes ever more frequently
An interesting comparison between Obama and his predecessor, the supposedly more belligerent George W. Bush suggests we have misjudged. Under the new administration the US has been carrying out drone strikes ever more frequently. Vice President Joe Biden, especially, has been an effective advocate for the weapons. It was Biden who urged his boss to end the war in Afghanistan and instead to combat the Taliban with drone strikes on their hideouts in Pakistan. The US now sends out a missile-equipped drone an average of once every four days, while his predecessor, Bush, did so only once every 47 days. It seems remote-controlled war is the current vogue in American strategy.
These strikes costs no American lives so are unlikely to hit the headlines. By keeping the campaign out of the public eye he is able to maintain his image of a moderate and thus win support. One way that illustrates this perception is the absence of anti-war films and music in the mainstream. We have not heard anything like Eminem’s ‘Mosh’ for a few years.
Withdrawing from Iraq is a move that has earned Obama praise, but at the same time as was planned by Bush. Who is more aggressive? Obama has kept in sync with what he inherited, continuing to fight in Afghanistan, bombing Libya, and rumours of assassinations on Iranian nuclear scientists. Over 2,200 persons are estimated to have been killed in the first three years of the his administration in Pakistan alone. There are no estimates for deaths in Yemen or Somalia, the other scenes of relentless attacks.
Moreover, the signing of the NDAA – an indefinite detention bill, coupled with Guantanamo Bay remaining suggests this is true. Rather than getting rid of this prison more money has been invested, turning it into a state of the art hyper security centre. Since 9/11 it has cost at least $500 Million In renovations, with each of the prisoners costing $800,000 per year.
With regard to assassinations, identification of the human targets requires intelligence, either voluntary informants or captives
With regard to assassinations, identification of the human targets requires intelligence, either voluntary informants or captives. With the latter torture is certain, whatever rhetorical pledges are proclaimed back home. There may be intelligence officers who rely on patient, non-violent interrogation; others will reach for the garden hose and the towel. A fact Obama will be fully aware of.
This is not a full blown attack on Obama; I applaud lots of what he has done, whilst how he handles the volatile situation with Iran remains to be seen. Moreover, what we do not know is how far his policies have been affected by the more extreme factions in American politics. The purpose of this article is more to question the perception of him as almost benevolent. Being a well-educated man has enabled him to present the clichéd ‘iron fist in the velvet glove’ to the world. An astute diplomat it appears. With the elections coming we will see if it has worked.
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