The long and drawn out 2012 presidential election is finally over and President Barack Obama was reelected. Shortly after he was reelected, Obama launched another drone strike in Yemen — a harbinger of what’s to come in his second term. It is worth going through Obama’s foreign policy during the past four years in order to assess what he’s done and understand what the future holds.
Category Archives: International Law
I wrote a piece in Turnstyle News about the Stanford/NYU and Columbia reports on the U.S. drone program. Please note that this was written before the November 6, 2012 presidential election.
The expansion of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, is rarely discussed in mainstream forums, but breaking this silence are two important reports from reputable universities that shed light on the underreported human suffering and dangerous implications of the drone program.
While the death of Trayvon Martin has largely fallen off the public radar, the killing of black people by police officers, security guards, or armed vigilantes continues unabated. On May 6, Alan Blueford, an 18-year-old African-American male who was about to graduate from Skyline High School, was shot three times by two Oakland police officers. Oakland police stopped and frisked Blueford and his two friends that night for drugs or weapons. Shortly after, Blueford ran and the police chased him. During the chase, police claim Blueford fired at them to which they responded with three shots. A fourth shot was fired into an officer’s foot, which police also claimed came from Blueford.
However, according to witnesses, investigators, and a coroner’s report, Blueford never shot at the police. There was a pistol found at the scene but it was never fired and it’s unclear whether it belonged to Blueford. In addition, Oakland Police Department (OPD) admitted that the fourth shot was a self-inflicted wound. One of the officer’s shot himself in the foot but initially blamed it on Blueford — a kid who never shot them. On the bright side, the Oakland community has shown their outrage at the killing in the form of robust activism. There is now a “Justice for Alan Blueford” campaign with support from Occupy Oakland.
As the U.S. supposedly winds down in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is increasing its shadow wars in Africa. Since 9/11, under the guise of fighting terrorism, the U.S. expanded its military presence in Central Asia (with the invasion of Afghanistan), the Middle East (with the invasion of Iraq), and the Horn of Africa — regions that are predominantly Muslim. In 2003, the Combined Joint Task Force — Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) was established to carry out civil-military operations in the Horn of Africa to counter terrorism. Its base is at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the only major U.S. military outpost in Africa. In 2008, the U.S. created the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) to coordinate its military operations on the continent, even though it’s headquartered in Germany. Under the rubric of the Global War on Terror, the U.S. military and CIA have been spreading their forces throughout Africa to fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. However, there are deeper geopolitical reasons motivating Washington’s militarism in Africa. This increased militarism is destabilizing Africa and exacerbates human suffering on the continent. Read the rest of this entry »
I wrote a piece in Turnstyle News about drone warfare. It’s the first in a series of two articles I wrote about drones.
From the National Public Radio (NPR) to the New York Times, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise known as drones, have been receiving a lot of press coverage. These high-tech, unmanned aircraft are changing the way the United States, and other countries, go to war. While drones are mostly used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes, they are increasingly being used for military strikes. Most of the drone strikes occur in Pakistan but are increasing in Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. launched 52 drone strikes in Pakistan. The Obama administration has dramatically increased that number to nearly 280 so far, along with dozens more in Yemen and Somalia. As a writer and peace activist, I am concerned that this technology will make it far too easy for nations to go to war, hence why I’m writing about it. The international community needs to mitigate the insidious implications of drone warfare. Read the rest of this entry »
On May 29, 2012, the New York Times published a long report (based on interviews with three dozen current and former Obama administration advisers) revealing how President Obama personally authorizes every drone strike against individuals suspected of being terrorists. Every Tuesday, the President, with two dozen counterterrorism officials, pore over mug shots and biographies of each suspect. The goal of these meetings is to determine which of these suspects is enough of a national security threat to warrant kill or capture — of which, the New York Times puts it, “the capture part has become largely theoretical”. As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think of the popular Japanese manga “Death Note” (which also became an anime series, a live-action film, and was banned in China). “Death Note” is a perfect allegory for the insidious moral implications of Obama’s targeted killing policy. Read the rest of this entry »
A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals something quite depressing. The poll shows that a majority of Americans, including many Democrats, support President Obama’s counterterrorism policies of keeping Guantanamo Bay prison open and drone strikes against suspected terrorists abroad. These are policies that Obama and many liberals criticized Bush for doing. But now that Obama is carrying them out, there’s ample support these policies.