- Barack Obama is often presented as a moral political leader whose historic ascendancy to the U.S. presidency as the first black president is a feat to behold.
- Yet he was a brutal war criminal who murdered thousands of innocent lives under America’s obsolete war against terror.
- Despite being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, this being a travesty in itself, Obama is a war criminal whose violations against international law must be punished.
The presidency of Barack Obama is often presented as a watershed moment in the checkered history of the United States of America (rightly so – he was the first black president of the U.S.), and that his was a benign period as far as global politics is concerned.
Familiar images legitimizing Obama as one of the best things to happen to global politics include those of a friendly and moral statesman regularly oozing irresistible doses of charm and conciliation — a benevolent, deeply thoughtful politician whose historical victory overshadowed all the monstrosities the US has committed ever since European colonizers stepped there.
The actual nature of his tenure is glossed over as a non-event. His was a reign of terror. A sort of hideous terror fashioned to keep the oppressed peoples of the world under the shackles of this dehumanizing status quo. All peoples, really: the working-class, unemployed, and peasantry of Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia. And the forces responsible for sanitizing this madness are indubitably lucid — white supremacy and imperialism; chiefly anchored by the global north’s corporate media behemoths.
It is an axiom that, when compared to the perverted right-wing nationalism of Donald Trump, or the brazenly deceptive George W. Bush, Barack Obama starkly stands out as a favourable period of American politics and international relations in its entirety.
Obama’s victory portended a triumphant epoch for people of African descent in the US and the global north at large. It was a overwhelmingly perceived as a triumph of Africans on the African continent. This, given the painful, dehumanizing, and ugly history of all African peoples regardless of geographical placement. Slavery and the slave trade, Jim Crow, lynching, the civil rights struggle. Brutal colonial conquests and sustained neocolonial attacks on the sovereignty of Africa. A neocolonialism which took on increasingly subtle yet brutal forms of oppression and dehumanization.
Against this backdrop, one would not be mistaken to have believed that a fundamental turn in the modern history of humanity had arrived. In Kenya, Obama is viewed with much favour. Among African-Americans, the sincere hope that Obama, who contested and won on the Democratic Party’s ticket, would facilitate, oversee, and usher in a new period marking a break from racist, sexist, and capitalist oppression and exploitation reigned supreme as the prevailing wisdom. His liberal tone, even denouncing the war in Iraq, was charming. Yet, only superficial.
In the war-ravaged regions of the Middle East (and other Orientalist regions such as Somalia), perhaps Obama would have proclaimed with unflinching and enlightened revolutionary fervor: “NO TO WAR!” Perhaps, he could have vociferously and passionately preached: “DISMANTLE NATO, AND DEFUND THE US MILITARY AND POLICE!” One hoped that the mass incarceration of Black people in the U.S. would come to a significant reduction. But alas …
Perhaps, just perhaps, he could have implored the American ruling elite to relent and stop forthwith the vainglorious and illusory message of neoliberal capitalism. Imperialism. Patriarchal, sexist domination. And illegal sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, et al. Such was the hope. And it was all understandable.
But was it even perceptible that one of his first acts would be the oversight of the bailing out of giant American banks and corporations following the global crisis of 2008? That he would persist with the imperialist wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria? Was it a mammoth surprise of sheer shock, utter disbelief and dejection that he continued to funnel military and economic support to the apartheid state of Israel in its egregious violence and dehumanization of Palestinians?
An insightful perspective of American politics and its imperialist foreign policy would put asunder such surprises. Barack Obama exactly turned out like Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush; and, most significantly, he perpetuated the ruinous, murderous, and inhumane stratagems of oppression, exploitation, and death that his predecessor George W. Bush was – and still is – proud of.
Yet, at all times, Barack Obama came off as some sort of saint who was seemingly constrained by impervious metaphysical forces. The coming in of the rabidly racist Donald Trump played a supremely paramount role in whitewashing Obama’s crimes against humanity. For all his atrocities against the interests and welfare of all peoples of the earth, Obama was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. The hegemonic global order of American imperial supremacy (and neoliberalism) is as dystopic as it gets. And this only reveals the true nature of the U.S. regardless of which president is in charge.
No matter how morally high-sounding a certain president is (usually Democrats), and how liberal they might seem, they have to act in conformity with the hegemonic interests of the ruling/oligarchical elite few who amass all the super profits in the world to the irredeemable detriment of the masses.
With each American president, the global status quo remains intact. As we see today, imperialist proxy wars have intensified and show zero signs of abating. Obama continued where Bush left. Trump continued where Obama left. And Biden did likewise. The wars in Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, and the perennial conflicts in Libya, the Sahel, Palestine, etc are shameful attestations to this sad and regrettable material reality.
Barack Obama committed unspeakable, horrendous, and morbidly terrifying atrocities at an unprecedented scale. And, notwithstanding this truism, his legacy is still praised as a purported “champion of democracy” and “individual liberties”. It was Obama who orchestrated, with the conventional imperialistic arrogance and intransigence of white supremacist domination, the ongoing chaos in Libya. For it was Obama who commanded the inhuman might of NATO forces to raid, bomb, and pillage Libya — with the final polishing act: the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi.
Corporate media has never, and this is not an understatement, critically addressed the perpetuation of America’s death-laden metaphysical (the Manifest Destiny) belief in imposing foreign military intervention in smaller countries perceived to have gone against the whims and dictates of Western hegemony.
It was Obama who continuously, as if in a war-like video game, rained bombs on women and children in Syria and Yemen. The most ever in the region. It was Obama who stamped the continuous presence of the American military (which is literally a death machine) in Iraq and Afghanistan. He never extended an arm of reconciliation with Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, and Zimbabwe.
During his presidency, Barack Obama “approved the use of 563 drone strikes that killed approximately 3,797 people”. He “authorized 54 drone strikes alone in Pakistan during his first year in office”, and in the following year he “led 128 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan that killed at least 89 civilians”.
Harvard Political Review writes, “The drone operations extended to Somalia and Yemen in 2010 and 2011, resulting in more destructive results. Under the belief they were targeting al-Qaida, President Obama’s first strike on Yemen killed 55 people including 21 children, 10 of which were under the age of five. Additionally, 12 women, five of them pregnant, were also among those who were murdered in this strike.”
In 2010, Obama sought the approval of Congress to increase military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan to $160 billion; and at that time he said that he was adding “30,000 more U.S. troops to the Afghan war effort to join the 68,000 already fighting a resurgent Taliban”
The only advantage that Obama got, which made him enact these horrific acts without much opposition from Americans and the rest of the world, was his “good moral standing” — largely enabled by the white supremacist corporate media. Obama was (and still is) portrayed as a “deeply moral man” who “engages in serious and conscientious deliberations” before making decisions. Decisions that resulted in the murder of thousands of innocent lives in far-away lands.
He actively perpetuated the white supremacist agenda of American imperialism. In an act of twisted irony, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. But here was a man who continued to funnel unrelenting support to the apartheid state of Israel; effectively dehumanizing the Palestinian peoples and frustrating their struggle for liberation.
.Obama is not remorseful over his atrocities against humanity. His drone strikes make him fit snugly in the category of a war criminal who must be punished for flagrantly and incessantly violating international humanitarian law — which he paradoxically claimed to uphold; that when he wanted to “save” these civilians from the “terrorists”, the “machinery he commanded” made him to “end up killing people”. These are the words of a white supremacist, a war criminal who must face justice. There is nothing much to celebrate about the legacy of Barack Obama.