The Highs And Lows Of The Obama Administration
President Obama was the first elected President of color, that in itself cements him forever in our country’s history. He has also changed things in America, as well as the way that we interact with the many other countries in this world. There has been many changes by him and his administration that are notable.
“In his first term, various events pushed Obama into a pragmatic realpolitik as he dramatically escalated the use of armed drones, acquiesced in crackdowns on dissent in countries like Bahrain and bypassed Congress to maintain a military operation in Libya” (Gerstein, 2013).
This statement touches on many of the dramatic changes made by Obama, first let’s look at drones. Our present President has used this form of attack more than any other President and he is not even through his second term yet, not even close. After the five year anniversary from the first, there has been a reported 2400 deaths since the Obama administration has been in office (Sledge, 2014). Of those deaths, hundreds were innocent bystanders and civilians, a couple hundred were children caught in the crossfire. There has been an outcry within the International community for this new type of warfare Obama is purporting. These civilians are considered a casualty of war, collateral damage, however it is contended that other ways of capturing/killing a terrorist would have caused more deaths. Either way, the use of drones has been more prevalent in Obama’s administration, changing the way we do war with the world. Strikes have included Americans and other citizens in several countries around the world.
Bypassing Congress has also become a staple of the Obama Administration in many ways. One way in particular has been through the use of Executive Orders, which he used quite liberally in his first term of office. President Obama's National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order of March 16th, 2012 gave the government and the President more power than ever before. It gives the President the right to detain American citizens without due process or a lawyer, as well as search and seizure laws. It in a sense gives all of the different government branches power over all of this country’s national resources in a time of need (Garrison, 2012). This paired with other similar orders has given the country, as well as the world, a clear sense of change with this administration.
When looking at foreign policy in this country, we must look at the changes to our relations with the Middle East. Pakistan in particular has seen a year of positive movement (2013) that points towards the ability to pull out fully by 2014 as scheduled. Although there has not been negative backward movement, Obama has still not been able to accomplish what he set out to do in his campaign speeches (Fisher, 2013).
Another country that we have had a change with in our foreign policy, especially in the last year is Egypt. We did not help the newly democratic elected President when he was over-thrown by a coup that we knew about ahead of time. We also did not help them stabilize their region, which is still a mess. We also cut down the amount of aid we are currently giving the country (Fisher, 2013), showing our displeasure, pissing many people off. For a country that has been an ally for a long time, this act did nothing but distance the relationship.
Another country of interest has been Iran and may be one of the shining stars in the current foreign policy plan by the administration. In a goal to rid an unstable country of nuclear weapons, America won a small victory. In an issue involving Syria and chemical weapons, America was able to pressure Iran with military interference if they did not comply with their demands and was able to bang out a commitment to get rid of chemical weapons, as well as de-mantle their military program. This was a great win for our President, especially given the relationship with their ally, Russia, being so tense the last couple of years.
North Korea, another thorn in our side, has been contained and another year has went by without war, however it has not came without some marks made. The country continues to threaten the U.S., as well as continues in the path of higher nuclear capabilities. Obama’s Administration has wholly ignored the country’s threats and have levied more sanctions against the country. The administration has chosen to largely ignore the provocations due to one of the only small country’s remaining allies, China. Our country does not want to upset such a strong trade provider, so we have so far, dealt with this temperamental dictator with kid gloves. We have also chosen not to get involved with the inhumane way the country takes care of their 25 million residents. Many residents of which are malnourished, in prison camps and essentially trapped in the country. Against some of the many quotes of our bright-eyed bushy tailed President before elected, many promises, one of which was not fulfilled.
“I’ll turn the page on the imperial presidency. We’ll be the country that credibly tells the dissidents in the prison camps around the world that America is your voice, America is your dream, America is your light of justice” (Obama, 2007).
Russia of course has not been a fan of America for a long time, however it seems that recent events have made matters worse. The President has refused to go to the Olympics in Sochi, as protest to Russian anti-gay laws (Fisher, 2013). There was also the matter of Edward Snowden and the temper tantrum thrown by Obama’s Administration demanding his release. Russia of course has decided to give Snowden immunity and the ability to stay in the country. This was a loss of face for the current administration.
Edward Snowden has been an individual that has changed the face of our foreign policy by making many of our secrets known to the world. When it was found out that the German Chancellor’s phone had been tapped and later admitted to, as well as defended the decision sent ripples through the world. American government also grounded a flight in Bolivia trying to find Snowden, upsetting many of the Latin community(Fisher, 2013). This was several mistakes, leaked information and once again, a poor follow through on the Presidents part. This has caused damage to relations with the countries involved, as well as the spectators watching the drama unfold on the news.
On a state level, Obama has a low approval rate with-in his own country. The NSA program has been a huge hit to local politics, as well as changing people’s minds about our President. Snowden is an example of how individuals have changed our foreign policy with in the Obama administration. Being the President that killed the most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden was a high point of the administration. Our fumbles in the state level with other countries however, have caused chaos and lowered the opinion of Americans everywhere.
Fisher, M. (2013, December 31). Obama’s foreign policy report card for 2013. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/12/31/obamas-foreign-policy-report-card-for-2013/
Garrison, J. (2012, March). Jim Garrison: Martial Law by Executive Order. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-garrison/martial-law-under-another_b_1370819.html
Gerstein, J. (2013, October). President Obama’s foreign policy shift - Josh Gerstein - POLITICO.com. Retrieved from http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/barack-obama-foreign-policy-98201.html
Sledge, M. (2014, January). The Toll Of 5 Years Of Drone Strikes: 2,400 Dead. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/23/obama-drone-program-anniversary_n_4654825.html