Obama's foreign policy legacy

President Obama has recently been on a "legacy tour" overseas.
Presidential legacies are notoriously hard to define because so much of depends on personal opinions. Only with the detachment of history do legacies become clear.

However, there sometimes are clearly defined metrics that can measure a presidential legacy without historical detachment. For instance, when an event has never happened before, or at least very rarely happens.

There are several of those metrics applicable to the Obama foreign policy legacy that they all point in one direction - war.

The Forever War President

First President Ever for Non-Stop War

Obama has now been at war longer than any president in United States history, as the New York Times pointed out on Sunday. Barring some sort of peace miracle in the next six months, he will be the only president who ever served two full terms in office while constantly being at war. And given how he has transformed how the US fights overseas, his wars will likely continue long after he leaves office.
Anytime the media writes about Obama and war, it’s apparently a rule that the author must mention that Obama supposedly fights his wars more reluctantly than his predecessors. But in many contexts, this is misleading. Obama hasn’t attempted to avoid war; he has merely redefined it. In some ways, he has fought them in a far more aggressively than any president before him, just with different tools....
This is not to say Obama’s wars are completely comparable to his predecessors’, including those of George W Bush – his Iraq war remains the most calamitous foreign policy mistake of our generation. And with each passing year, despite the fact that no one wants to admit it, the Afghanistan war inches closer to the same.
But at least Bush fought his wars with authorization from Congress, something that Obama has refused to do with his war on Isis, despite the constitution requiring it....
Rather than being remembered as the reluctant warrior, pushed into war by circumstance, there is far more likelihood Obama will be remembered as the opposite: the president who cemented the forever war mentality and architecture that has continually expanded, and that tragically shows no signs of slowing.

More than any other metric, the fact that he's the first two-term president in American history in which the nation hasn't seen a single day of peace is enough to define his presidency.
However, that is far from the only metric that points in this direction.

The Everywhere War President

When defending the nuclear agreement with Iran, Obama let slip an interesting factoid.

Beyond accurately describing Iran deal opponents, Obama also accurately described himself and his own record of militarism. To defend against charges that he Loves the Terrorists, he boasted:

As commander-in-chief, I have not shied away from using force when necessary. I have ordered tens of thousands of young Americans into combat. …
I’ve ordered military action in seven countries.

By “ordered military actions in seven countries,” what he means is that he has ordered bombs dropped, and he has extinguished the lives of thousands of innocent people, in seven different countries, all of which just so happen to be predominantly Muslim.

Seven nations is an interesting number because it is the highest number of nations that we've bombed at one time since the end of WWII.
Even during WWI we weren't at war in that many nations at once.

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What's more, the American military presence has expanded at an alarming rate under Obama.

In 2015, according to Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw, U.S. Special Operations forces deployed to a record-shattering 147 countries—75% of the nations on the planet, which represents a jump of 145% since the waning days of the Bush administration. On any day of the year, in fact, America’s most elite troops can be found in 70 to 90 nations.

It's safe to say that we are either at war, or ready for war, almost everywhere on the globe.
And this happened under Obama, not Bush.

The Nuclear Weapons President

President Obama made a spectacle of visiting Hiroshima and calling for a "world without nuclear weapons." It certainly sounded good. It's just too bad that Obama is doing the opposite in reality.

Obama has been talking up his pro-disarmament stance for years, even as he pushes for the US to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in modernizing its massive nuclear arsenal. To make matters worse, new figures from the Pentagon show that the reduction of the US nuclear arsenal has slowed dramatically under Obama.

What's more, Obama has deployed an anti-missile system in the Baltics, and antagonizing Russia, for no obvious reason. Bush unilaterally withdrew us from the anti-ballistic missile system treaty, but it was Obama that took the next step.
There is simply no logic behind this attitude.

My point is that the Russians are not exactly failing to notice what is going on. No one but Victoria Nuland and the Kagans actually want a war but Moscow is being backed into a corner with more and more influential Russian voices raised against détente with a Washington that seems to be intent on humiliating Russians at every turn as part of a new project for regime change. Many Russian military leaders have quite plausibly come to believe that the continuous NATO expansion and the stationing of more army units right along the border means that the United States wants war.
....To be sure, Russia is no innocent in the international one upmanship game but it has been more sinned against than sinned. And the nearly constant animosity directed against Russia by the Obama Administration should be seen as madness as the stakes in the game, a possible nuclear war, are, or should be, unthinkable.

Russia isn't the only nuclear nation being provoked by the Obama administration. China is too.

However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the US of being provocative. Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Chinese officials had instructed the ship to change course, but the warning was ignored.
“The US warship violated Chinese law and entered China’ s territorial sea without authorisation. The Chinese side conducted surveillance and vocal warnings to the US warship,” Ms Hua said.
Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the Chinese government believed the US had “sabotaged peace” and threat­ened regional stability.
“The US side is fully aware of this, yet it still sent its warship into China’ s territorial sea without authorisation. It is a deliberate provocation,” Mr Yang said.

China is being provoked by sea and by air.

This isn't the first time America has had increased nuclear tensions with Russia and China, but it's the first I can recall it happening for no clear reason and with no long-term strategy.
Combine this with a termination of the long-term trend of reducing the nuclear arsenal.

The Unlimited War Powers President

This last point is the hardest to nail down, but maybe the most important.

Future historians will ask why George W. Bush sought and received express congressional authorization for his wars (against al Qaeda and Iraq) and his successor did not. They will puzzle over how Barack Obama the prudent war-powers constitutionalist transformed into a matchless war-powers unilateralist. And they will wonder why he claimed to “welcome congressional support” for his new military initiative against the Islamic State but did not insist on it in order to ensure clear political and legal legitimacy for the tough battle that promised to consume his last two years in office and define his presidency.

The entire anti-ISIS war is based on very questionable legality, but that has been rendered moot because Congress has decided to completely abrogate their Constitutional duties regarding war powers (which should cause them all to be impeached).
Nevertheless, the precedent has been set for presidents to have total authority to decide when to go to war, without any oversight at all. This is in a country that refused to even have a standing army for its first few decades.

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after cleaning it up a bit.
Should get a few flames

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Wigs are aflame!

Who knew that listing facts could be a personal attack?

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snoopydawg's picture

it over there.
I will be reminding the people who give you shit for posting it that at one point the site was against what Obama is doing.
That was when the republican presidential was doing them.

And that is what makes me batshit crazy about the site and Hillary's supporters.
When Bush went into Iraq on trumped up reasons, they were against it.
When citizens united came out, it was against it. But it's okay for Hillary to take advantage in f dark money because how else is she going to beat the republican candidate?
And everything else that was bad when Bush did them is now acceptable because it's a democrat who is president and doing the same things. But on a bigger scale.
We had to overthrow Gaddafi because he was doing things to his citizens.
We also had to go after Saddam in Kuwait because the Iraqi troops were throwing babies out of incubators.
People willingly drink up the government's propaganda.

It's a good thing that Obama won the Nobel peace prize, cuz I can't imagine what worse things he would be doing if he hadn't.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

but this one took the cake:

Any third-grader knows POTUS ENDED the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
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He has left the legacy that the US can do whatever it likes, whenever it likes and wherever it likes written in stone/blood.

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Dhyerwolf's picture

I would say that same thing about every President we've had since I was born.

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Pardoning Torture
Ignoring war crimes
Ignoring bombing of Hospitals
Ignoring countries borders to summarily murder their citizens without trial

With quite such alacrity and without even the need to ask congress.

Bush at least had to make up shit and nobody thought of rewarding him either.

It's a whole new level of arrogance.

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His foreign policy is to make the world open to his handlers in the world of international corporations. You get in the way, you die.

I think Clinton will be more of the same: wars and lies and human misery and an increasingly hostile biosphere.

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"The justness of individual land right is not justifiable to those to whom the land by right of first claim collectively belonged"

shaharazade's picture

she signaled her foreign policy when she brought out Kissenger and kissed Dr. Strangelove. For me the email scandal is not about 'national security' or breaking rules, it's about the content of the emails which would give us all a much clearer picture of what she did as SoS. There's also the question of why she had her own server to begin with. RW talking points have nothing to do with the reality of the Mad Bomber's agenda and 'way forward'.

Sure the Republican's tried to get her with Benghazi! but the R congressional investigations were ass backward and as big a farce as this Dem. primary is. That doesn't mean that during her tenure as SoS she was instigating humanitarian intervention because Qaddafi was a bad bad man. Right, and her good friend Mubarak and US renditioner and torturer Suleiman was not a bad, bad man. The Russians are coming again, oh no's.

There is not a lick of difference between her majesties foreign policy and the Obama/ Bush 'foreign policy'. Take away the R and D politics from these administrations and look at what they have wrought. The whole lot of them need to go. I don't give a rats ass about the protocol of email or even whats a classified document. It's obvious to me that this is just internecine political fighting between the people with power D's and R's who are up to no good and wrecking the world. A war criminal is a war criminal regardless of what color they fly under, red or blue. Who cares which side these chest thumping lizard brained assholes posing as a candidates come from they need to be stopped.

You get in the way and you die is right. 'The whole world is watching' said the global movement of OWS and it's counterparts. How can the people of America walk on by and attribute this to political gotcha's? Oh no, this is the heart of the matter behind the server or the RW talking points or any of this mad jazz. Look beyond the machinations that both parties pump out to validate their mad agenda. They lie like crazy and they are armed and dangerous. Hillary the Hun being imo the worst outcome for the world at large, both planetary and human.

But hey it's politics right? It's binary your 'opinion' and vote is thumbs up or down for whoever the masters of the universe throw out there and say up or down. The lady or the tiger and if you don't chose the lady your disenfranchising the demographic of righteously frightened people who have been disenfranchised forever. What an absurd choice. What a farce of democracy. Foreign policy is a euphemism for endless bloody war both economic and the killing fields the US enforcers i9mplement. And yet it her private server's content is a RW witch hunt and a matter of bureaucratic protocol violation of rules. Yeah right.

Incremantally won't work

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seems to describe our foreign policy. The MIC gets mighty restless when they can't sell more weapons.

No Commies to threaten? Kick the hornet's nest (the West created) in the Middle East and see what they can stir up. Sales of small arms are down, so they seed a coup in Nicaragua. Who cares if women and children get annihilated? They will support every dictator they can find who will buy their bombs and the planes to drop 'em, then it's back to red-baiting. Now, they're making real money, baby!

Excuse me while I go puke.

How much more blowback do we have to experience before we recognize the truth? Note that I'm saying "we" now. We keep electing these enablers of war to represent us in our government. but killing innocents ain't gonna make us any safer. It will only invite more retribution on all of us, and the PTB are deaf to reason, blind to the damage they've done in our name.

Is there anybody out there?

Can you hear me?

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Bisbonian's picture

because their opponents are So Much Worse.

/s

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

and it works so well that something as innocuous as saying we should be "even-handed" in our foreign policy is greeted with that piece of sickening whataboutery.

That's how the LOTE strategy traps us in a vicious cycle. That's how we keep ending up in the same situation.

The truth is, the only winning move is NOT to play that game.

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family into? I am always amazed at how they enter public service and come out richer than when they went in. Eternal war, offers to cut Social Security, privatizing public schools and no bankers in jail is the legacy I see.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

Bisbonian's picture

SOS shenanigans.

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

Hillbilly Dem's picture

"You can't get rich in politics unless you're a crook."
-Harry S, Truman

After he left the White House, many corporations offered Truman a seat on their boards of directors. He turned them all down. "They don't want me, they want the presidency and it's not for sale." The only thing that kept him afloat after he left office was his pension. He died with next to nothing in the bank.

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"Just call me Hillbilly Dem(exit)."
-H/T to Wavey Davey

regarded as one of the most corrupt in our history, Grant himself did not profit. He died practically broke, having spent the last energies of his failing biology on hammering out his memoir, so that his family would not live in poverty.

I haven't read it, though it is supposed to be a masterpiece, and it accomplished its author's purpose.

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

TheOtherMaven's picture

and he trusted them far too much. That said, he did make some effort to rein in the excesses - mostly too little and too late.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

almost all of our current politicians lack:

Integrity.

That's why I like Bernie's message. "It's about us."

Not me, not you, not him - US.

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to hypobolize this:

George W Bush – his Iraq war remains the most calamitous foreign policy mistake of our generation.

"Our generation," my pale pasty patoot. I have seen no argument anywhere by anyone that sensibly ranks any foreign policy mistake in our 240-year history as more calamitous than the Iraq war. It's difficult to produce even a list of candidates for discussion. I can think of only one -- our essentially unconditional support of Israel in the Six Day War and its aftermath.

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

I just see it as vacationing, visiting countries he'll never have a chance to vacation in again, with a few exceptions.

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Bollox Ref's picture

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

riverlover's picture

it's almost like they dared him, and he flunked the test.

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Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

MonetaryLeviathon's picture

My respect of the nobel committee has been irretrievable damaged and I view the entity as a political body, not a objective one. Krugman is another example ... he carries water for the status quo of 'neoliberal' economic, monetary and financial policies and the 'liberal' or 'progressive' label associated with him is patently absurd ...

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TheOtherMaven's picture

Remember, they also awarded a Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Fucking Kissinger! (It was supposed to be a joint award, but Le Duc Tho declined his share on the grounds - quite true - that peace had not been attained.)

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

gulfgal98's picture

For me, the drone program is the single most visible example of how far this nation has fallen. Obama had the chance to change that direction, but instead he had no problems escalating it.

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

The Pentagon controls half or more than half the federal government's discretionary budget, and they never get properly audited. Experts are beginning to point out that they have more power in Washington than the White House. Our foreign policy is controlled by the Pentagon to a great extent. President Obama is traveling the world as an arms salesman now. If the next President re-starts the Cold War, we won’t know if was just because they couldn't stand up against the defense contractors.

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"We've done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."

Hereticus's picture

As soon as president elect Obama chose Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff, the only direction he could go was to continue the Bush foreign policy.

Then he doubled-down against progressive values by finishing up up "team of rivals" cabinet with mostly right wingers.

I knew that there was to be no primary challenge within the party, so I voted for Ron Paul in my the Vermont primary because I hoped to be able to vote against war in November.

It was not to be, so I voted third party. Now I am a "Bernie or Bust" voter who will vote against war again in November.

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Progressive, Independent, Gnostic, Vermonter.

Bisbonian's picture

SAA_P1870.jpg
Colt Single Action Army "Peacemaker"

Peacemaker.jpg
Convair B-36 "Peacemaker"

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

MonetaryLeviathon's picture

I believe it was less than a week after Obama was elected in 2008 that he named one of his 'team' who was one of the retreads from the clinton administration and I felt strongly right then that we were in for another ride in the wrong direction. I forget who it was .. maybe Rahm f'head. 8 years later, I don't think there is much doubt... a doubling of the advertised national debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion, a stock market higher due to easy money policies and massive corporate stock buybacks, housing in many areas around the country again in bubble territory, rents skyrocketing along with housing, a very weak job market, wages stagnant for 8 years, health care costs higher than ever on percentage of income basis (unless you're driven into poverty then its 'free'), Big banks in europe imploding (Deutsche) or imploded (Spain), entire countries and even US territories going bankrupt (Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina (again), Puerto Rico).

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Our colony, Puerto Rico, was valuable to those in charge of the political economy while Cuba was deemed a threat, so it was treated almost fairly. Since Cuba is not a "threat" the colony has been cast adrift and left for the Capitalists to pick over the bones of the population and economy.

Puerto Rico has a per capita income only 50% that of our poorest state, Mississippi. People, especially children, are being deprived of food and shelter. Only 40% of the adult population is in the labor force. In spite of Puerto Rico being the most fertile of the Caribbean Islands, it is forced to import over 90% of its food becomes the arable land has been taken over by Big Ag and its for-export crops.

Obama is OK with this.

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"The justness of individual land right is not justifiable to those to whom the land by right of first claim collectively belonged"

Hereticus's picture

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Progressive, Independent, Gnostic, Vermonter.