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Obama Administration's Foreign Policy
Let's set the scene a bit, shall we? When Obama took office, America was engaged in two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq. Our image around the world had been tarnished because of an uncovered torture policy, among other things. What could one person do to rectify this? In steps young Barack Obama.
On his first day, he signed executive orders to stop torture and close Guantanamo Bay. Sadly, the Guantanamo Bay part didn't quite pan out because the inmates could not be shipped anywhere. Their home countries surely didn't want them and the American public was certainly against having them on U.S soil. That one remains an unfinished task.
Here I will lay out the major tenants of Obama's foreign policy.
Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech
1. War as a last resort
During his first term, Obama successfully ended the Iraq war, which we had been fighting since 2003. He directed the focus back to Afghanistan, which was the rightful war to avenge the deaths in the 9/11 attack. He even executed a surge of troops to Afghanistan since the war in Iraq had ended. This got us on the path of waging war for the right reasons and not based on false intelligence. He's one of the few senators to vote against the Iraq war, in fact.
The Afghanistan war is now coming to a close in 2014, which is sooner than we originally thought. The Afghan army will now have to take responsibility for its own country. The U.S army has been training them for years and years. Arguably, they're still not ready based on the evidence, but we can't stay for decades. Historically, no one has conquered Afghanistan. Napoleon and the Soviets are only a couple of examples.
Soon, America will not be entangled in any wars, which will free up a considerable amount of revenue to be spent on domestic issues, rather than decade-long wars.
2. Drone strikes
The Obama Administration has ratcheted up the use of drones greatly. They've been in development for over a decade, but they've now gotten to a point where they can replace the use of jets in many parts of the world.
It has allowed the Obama administration to dismantle the hierarchy of Al Qaeda almost entirely. It is not without controversy. Drones have actually been used to kill American citizens abroad. One particular American citizen was Anwar Al-awlaki, who had terrorist affiliations. The legal right to enact this aerial vengeance isn't so clear. The Obama legal team has crafted a memo that outlines why it thinks it can bypass many parts of the constitution (due process, for one) and murder American citizens abroad. That particular memo will now be released to certain members of congress, so they can look over it. Of course, the American public shall not see it. Many questions are left unanswered. One, in particular, was asked by Rachel Maddow, host of the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC: Can Obama kill American citizens in the U.S, if there is an imminent threat?
Most progressives are known for being weak on foreign policy, but Obama is not one of those.
3. Osama Bin Laden taken out
While Obama put the nation's focus back on Afghanistan, he also put the focus (secretly, mind you) back on the hunting of Osama Bin Laden, who orchestrated the murder of thousands in the 9/11 attacks, among others. He achieved this in his first term.
It was a very risky decision because if they failed, international law had been broken. Honestly, international law had been broken either way, but through successfully killing him, we were not held accountable for the law breaking. It was seen as justified. The operation took place in Pakistan. For the longest time, the common orthodoxy was that Osama Bin Laden took refuge in the caves in Afghanistan. Logically, it would be tough to lead Al Qaeda in a cave.
So, overall, he took down the most wanted man in the world. That's a pretty big accomplishment and it shows how he would stop at nothing to find him and kill him.
4. Increased cooperation with the United Nations
Arguably, the U.S broke with the UN when it came to the Iraq war. That's not to say we didn't have any allies. We certainly did, but we did not get United Nations approval for the war, as we did with Afghanistan. Rather than leading the charge in every country with a dictator or tyrannical government, the Obama administration had chosen to utilize the global community.
In Libya, American had no "boots on the ground," so to speak during the conflict. In the end, Muammar Gaddafi was killed and the chance of freedom was given to the Libyan people. The U.S provided supplies, arms, and intelligence, but did not engage the American military.
In Egyptian revolution, no armed forces were deployed by any country. We decided that democracy was taking its course. While the U.S did provide public support for the protesters, it never sent troops. That lesson has been learned. While many will criticize the Obama administration for not getting involved because the new President of Egypt was part of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Obama doctrine differs from the Bush doctrine, in that just because the leader of a nation is not someone we agree with, it does not mean we can use military force. The people voted for him and we must respect their decision. If they sour on their current President, they can protest again or vote for someone else. That is how democracy works.
We are just now at the start of Obama's second term, but in his first term, he ended one war, set the date for another war to end, killed Osama Bin Laden, ended our torture policy, restored our image around the world, and has systematically dismantled the leadership of Al Qaeda using drone strikes.
That's pretty good, if you ask me.