Well, it’s over … and good riddance. What began with a purchased Nobel Peace Prize and a lecture to the Middle East, under the then omnipotent eyes of Hosni Mubarak, has ended with a parting bang … yet another round of massive US air strikes in Libya and Syria.
Eight years ago the world held its collective breath for what would prove to be an all-too-brief moment with the election of a self-professed anti-war ‘liberal’ to the most powerful and deadly office in the world.
In October 2002, then Senator Obama, an orator of rare talent with keen mind and extraordinary youthful vigour and promise, announced he was ‘opposed to dumb wars’. He was going to be different. He said so. He lied.
Well … not quite. He was different. After all, he’s the only two-term president in US history who has waged war every single day of his eight years in office. Indeed, not to be outdone by the hawkish George W Bush, Obama conducted air strikes on seven countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria. That’s three more than Bush bombed.
During his two terms, our peace president ordered a total of 563 ‘special’ air strikes, largely carried out by drones, that targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, in particular, compared to ‘but’ 57 such strikes under Bush.
While impossible to know for sure, the total number of those killed by these attacks during attempts to target three dozen or so ‘terrorists’ - including US citizens afforded no due process - apparently resulted in the deaths of almost 1,200 civilians. As a parting peace gesture, Obama left behind ‘Special Operation Forces’ deployed to more than 130 nations; that’s 70 percent of the world’s countries.
On the other hand, let’s give some credit where credit is due. Obama did slap around Benjamin Netanyahu to the tune of $38bn, largely for weapons, before refusing to veto the toothless settlement resolution in the United Nations.
Perhaps, in a strange sort of way, the election of Donald Trump, consumed by the chase of money and women in that order, may at day’s end be the best thing in years that has happened for the prospects of peace in the Middle East.
Unlike Obama - who has spent his lifetime wanting to be loved and who figured the best way to earn it was by proving just how tough he could be - Trump has spent his life proudly ensuring there’s just nothing there to love and, seemingly, could not care less about it.
Maybe, when it comes to war, the shrinks are right: those who need to prove just how tough they can be are far more dangerous than those who just don’t give a damn. Hope surely springs eternal.
But wait a minute; these guys in the Trump cabinet seem awfully familiar, don’t they? Isn’t that retired General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis wearing an Armani suit? Didn’t he only recently oversee combat operations throughout the Middle East?
And that other guy in the corner - the one looking awfully nervous sitting there without his chest full of medals - can that be retired Marine General John Kelly? Wasn’t he in charge of Guantanamo; you, know, the guy that challenged Obama any time the president had the temerity to bring up the subject of closing it? Didn’t he lose a son to combat in Afghanistan against the Taliban?
Does anyone really think that Trump can - or cares to - reign in a collection of misanthrope generals with likely a century or more of battle scars … those warriors that see peace as very much a pastime of the meek … who see moderation as soft, quiet as weak, and talk but prelude to attack ? Of course not.
War means profit, and that’s something that brings a huge smile to the face of the new president. The US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan alone have earned the American weapons industry trillions of dollars and counting.
Profit and military madness make for a bad combination indeed. That marriage will continue as eight years of unabated war will surely grow to 12.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘From war to more war’.