I was reading an editorial criticizing President Obama for not doing more in the international realm. Specifically, it suggested that he was too weak. He was supposedly not responding sufficiently to the alleged Russian threat to Ukraine, for instance. Another example is that some critics believe that the administration should have done more in response to the Arab Spring, in particular, offering more assistance. The editorial dribbled on.
I found this to be an odd criticism. When I look at Obama’s foreign policy I actually see a high level of international engagement; it is just that much of it is reprehensible. Let’s note a few and you see what you think.
- Drone strikes: Hundreds of people have been killed in drone strikes during the course of the Obama administration. These strikes violate the sovereignty of various countries, e.g., Pakistan, Yemen. Civilians are killed; nations protest; terrorists are encouraged; yet they continue.
- Destabilization of governments: The government of Honduras was overthrown and, while the Obama administration initially complained, it not only did nothing to restore the democratically elected government. Yet, it got in the way of the restoration. In Venezuela, despite the initial overtures by the late President Hugo Chavez, the administration has given a cold shoulder to the Venezuelan government and, even worse, given encouragement to the opposition to persist in efforts to undermine the government (despite the government’s clear electoral mandate).
- Continuous support of Israel and frustration of justice for the Palestinians: Despite rhetorical interventions, the Obama administration has been steadfast in supporting Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories, including ignoring the expansion of illegal settlements and sanctioning the inhumane blockade of Gaza. While Secretary of State Kerry was allegedly attempting to work out a peace deal, he was putting pressure on the Palestinians – who have very little to give – to concede more and more, while the Israeli government thumbed its nose at Kerry. Yet, there were no consequences.
So, when the Republicans and some Democrats assert that the Obama administration has been timid, I ask “How?” When they suggest that the administration seems to have no foreign policy, I ask, “What world are you looking at?”
And when regular people ask “Is this what we voted for in 2008 and 2012?” I answer: ”No it is not, but since we did not keep the pressure on Obama, it is what we were handed.”
It’s not too late for those who believe in global peace and justice to insist on a different course of action.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor and global justice writer, educator and activist. Follow him on Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.