obama's foreign policy

theguardian.com
America dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016. What a bloody end to Obama's reign | Medea Benjamin
According to new figures, the US dropped nearly three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day. Dare we think how Donald Trump will continue this legacy?
By Medea Benjamin

Barack Obama authorized over 10 times more drone strikes than George W Bush, and automatically painted all males of military age in these majority-Muslim regions as combatants, making them fair game for remote controlled killing. 

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Obama vows action on Russia hack, Trump plays it off

  • Obama announced Thursday “we need to take action,” and “we will retaliate” against the Russians for what the White House said yesterday was interference in the 2016 election personally directed by Putin. 
  • Such promises on foreign policy are uncharacteristic for a president largely known for restraint, loathe to return the nation to far-away conflicts that kill young men and rarely garner much public support.
  • Trump’s movements so far suggest he will have a far friendlier relationship with Putin than Obama. But at what cost to the U.S.? And at what cost to Putin?
  • For relations between the longtime foes to thaw, Trump must see a bonus in relaxing sanctions and becoming more open with Russia. (Some believe the financial interests of Trump and his advisers will incentivize a Russo-American partnership.) 
  • But pre-inaugural calculations about Trump’s relationship with Russia forget one thing: We have no knowledge of how Trump will handle foreign policy, and most of us long miscalculated his motives and chances for success. Read more
politico.com
Trump team warns Obama not to make major moves on foreign policy
"It’s not going to be just counterproductive, but it will also send mixed messages," an aide says. By NAHAL TOOSI

Before Donald Trump won the presidency, Democratic foreign policy circles hummed with talk that an outgoing President Barack Obama could take a last stab at peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. There also was a strong expectation that Obama would push hard for Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

But now that they’re on the verge of power, Trump aides say Obama shouldn’t even think about taking such steps.

“On big, transformative issues where President Obama and President-elect Trump are not in alignment, I don’t think it’s in keeping with the spirit of the transition … to try to push through agenda items that are contrary to the president-elect’s positions,” a Trump national security adviser told POLITICO on Thursday. “It’s not going to be just counterproductive, but it will also send mixed messages.”

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politico.com
What’s really bugging Trump about Obama
Trump and his closest advisers are bothered by Obama's critical comments and what they see as an effort to undermine the president-elect with last-minute policy changes. By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE and JOSH DAWSEY

Donald Trump can’t decide whether he thinks the transition of power is going well or not.

But he knows he doesn’t like how much attention Barack Obama is getting and is also bothered by what Trump and his closest advisers see as an active effort to poke the president-elect and undermine the incoming administration with last-minute policy changes on his way out of office, according to two people close to the transition.

And the relationship is likely to get worse in the three weeks until the inauguration: Obama is scheduled to give a farewell address Jan. 10 that is expected to be a recounting of his successes and an inherent contrast with Trump and the administration is rushing to make public a report on Russian hacking during the election that intelligence officials say was done to help Trump, though the president-elect has disputed that entirely.

The president-elect’s latest Twitter attack on Wednesday morning — “Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT!” — was followed, true to Trump form, six hours later by Trump telling reporters who asked whether the transition was going smoothly, “Oh, I think very, very smoothly. Very good. You don’t think so?“

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The Commutation of Chelsea Manning
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By J.R. Jameson

On Wednesday, President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning for her role in the WikiLeaks scandal of 2010.  Manning a soldier who was convicted by court martial in 2013 under the Espionage act and under another 22 separate charges to include aiding the enemy.  Originally she intended to leak the information to the Washington Post and the NY Times, but upon their disinterest then decided to pass the information to WikiLeaks in what became known as the Afghan and Iraq War Logs. She wrote in later statements that the more she had tried to fit in the army, the more alienated she felt. The relationship with WikiLeaks had given her a brief respite from the isolation and anxiety.

The veteran community is in an uproar because for them the severity of the crime outweighs the possibility of catching a bigger fish. And the precedent this action may set is very troubling to the community. Manning swore an oath to defend this country and broke it in one of the most heinous ways possible. Manning didn’t just leak classified information to the press, she essentially copied the entire SIPRNet drive and gave it to WikiLeaks to publish. These documents contained the names of informants, interpreters, numerous State Dept. cables, etc. In any other war, at any other time in our history, Manning would have been tried for treason.

Manning was not someone who saw some sort of wrongdoing and went to the press to expose injustice. Those people are called whistleblowers and there are a whole set of laws to protect them. If she thought what she was doing was whistleblowing she would have exposed an item or an agenda.  What she did was hand over an intelligence trove that foreign intelligence agencies only dream of. Aside from all of the military intel on the drive, it also contained State Dept cables containing the thoughts and positions the US held on world leaders. She took no action to safeguard or redact any of the data she handed over.  She was the worst kind of Soldier, sitting in her safe space, stewing in an already grand inferiority complex, she decided that what she needed was attention and this would make her an internet sensation.


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She hoped she would be seen as a social justice warrior, and believed that her actions were brave. All she did was betray her country and the oath she swore to defend it.  Her actions resulted in the deaths of many individuals who were trying to do the right thing and work against the radical Islamic insurgencies in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Because she gave no forethought to what she was doing she handed over reams of intelligence data to enemies of this country.

Throughout this scandal with Manning, this administration has set a dangerous precedent. The government chose not to charge her with treason which carries an automatic penalty of death or life in prison. Manning’s most serious charge, aiding the enemy, carries a possibility of life in prison, but she was sentenced to 35 years in prison instead. Now by President Obama commuting Manning’s prison sentence, he minimizes the severity of jeopardizing national security.

Senator McCain was quoted saying “It is a sad, yet perhaps fitting commentary on President Obama’s failed national security policies that he would commute the sentence of an individual that endangered the lives of American troops, diplomats, and intelligence sources by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive governments documents to WikiLeaks, a virulently anti-American organization that was a tool of Russia’s recent interference in our elections.”

Apparently needlessly jeopardizing US Soldiers, Statesmen, and our allies’ lives are not as bad as embarrassing a Presidential candidate? No mistake about it, what the President did was commute the sentence of a traitor, not some misguided 18-year-old and set a dangerous precedent for our national security.

 

***** The difference between a pardon and the commuting of a sentence.  A pardon wipes out the record of a conviction making it so it never happened. Commuting a sentence leaves the conviction intact and reduces or ends the sentence of a conviction.

politico.com
Is Trump ready for a national security crisis?
Personnel gaps across security and defense bodies has stoked concerns that the new administration could get caught flat-footed. By MICHAEL CROWLEY

The abrupt withdrawal of a top Trump National Security Council appointee and the dozens of high-level personnel holes across key foreign policy and defense agencies have national security experts posing a dark question: Will Donald Trump be ready to manage a national security crisis from Day One?

Sources close to the transition describe Trump’s national security staffing as a “black box,” leaving everyone from Obama officials to Trump job seekers to foreign diplomats guessing at who will land crucial positions shaping policy and managing crises.

Much of the speculation focuses on the NSC, which plays the vital role of coordinating foreign policy and national security within the White House. NSC aides refine and advise the president on competing policy options generated throughout the federal government.

But the Trump team has also not yet announced any appointments below the cabinet level for the Departments of State or Defense, leaving many more important posts open days before Trump’s inauguration.

“This isn’t getting attention it deserves. Who will run and implement policy? Right now there is a big vacuum,” Max Boot, a military historian and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted Tuesday.

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“If you look at what we’ve done in Cuba and Myanmar and Laos and Vietnam, these are countries that were historic enemies and it grows out of the vestiges of the Cold War. But a new generation of people all around the world are ready to turn the chapter, and we have to meet them and work with them.“ —President Obama on his historic visit as the first U.S. president to visit Laos.

politico.com
McCain and Graham vs. Trump and Putin
The two GOP mavericks take center stage Thursday with a hearing on cyber threats. By BURGESS EVERETT and AUSTIN WRIGHT

John McCain and Lindsey Graham have spent the past eight years chiding President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, sarcastically calling the president naïve when it comes to world affairs and regularly grilling his Cabinet members at congressional hearings.

Now it’s Donald Trump’s turn as the target.

McCain and Graham, the maverick partners in crime on a whole array of issues, will take the stage Thursday on the matter of cyber threats to the United States broadly and specifically Russian interference in the U.S. election. And, true to form, neither is likely to pull punches — never mind that a member of their own party who has repeatedly downplayed the notion that Russian meddling might have aided his campaign is about to be sworn in as president.

“You can expect I’ll do what I’ve been doing: I worked with Obama, though I didn’t agree with him, I certainly was a check,” Graham said in an interview. “I have a lot in common with President-elect Trump in terms of the domestic agenda. When it comes to foreign policy, I agree with him on Iran, I agree with him on China. Russia: I have no idea where he’s coming from.”

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Obama's Most Significant Legacy May Just Be the Trump Presidency

Obama’s Most Significant Legacy May Just Be the Trump Presidency

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In his final press conference as president, his year-end Youtube message and in a flurry of Twitter twaddle, Barack Obama has been busy promoting his legacy.  Among all the dubious claims he has been making, none is more fraudulent than “almost every country on earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago.”  If he really believes that, he’s the only one.…

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politico.com
Trump restores power of Israeli ambassador
After years in the Obama wilderness, Ron Dermer is reveling in the embrace of the president-elect. By MICHAEL CROWLEY

In November 2014, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, was a featured guest at a dinner for graduates of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton school of business. The other honoree that night: Donald J. Trump.

For Dermer, it was an extra-special occasion. As the Israeli envoy explained to the crowd at a Washington hotel, according to the text of his prepared remarks, the mogul had been an inspiration for the diplomat.

When Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” was published in 1987, a teenage Dermer read the cutthroat manifesto and resolved to become an entrepreneur like Trump. The book even convinced him to attend Trump’s alma mater of Wharton.

“Mr. Trump,” Dermer said, “the truth is, I wanted to be your apprentice.”

Dermer quickly indicated that his quip about Trump’s hit reality show of the same name was lighthearted: “But seriously …,” he continued. An Israeli official confirmed the accuracy of the speech text.

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I said no more politics, but I can’t help myself...

Ok, first off, let’s get this straight, I don’t like Trump. But I’m going to tell you a secret, I didn’t like Hillary either. Yeah, I was a fan of that finger-waving Jewish guy.

But, in the end, Bernie also disappointed me by caving to the DNC’s corruption. That’s why putting your hopes into a single politician is problematic. But that’s a whole other rant…

I think Trump says just about anything he can to get people all pissy, but I also think the media, I believe intentionally, helps him out a lot with this. It disturbs me a bit, and by ‘a bit’ I mean A LOT, that so many people are buying into this Russia-fear-tactics-fake-news thing. Next thing you know, the very people who feared our internet rights being taken will support that very thing in favor of silencing “fake news.”

Like, “Augh, fake news!!! Get your pitch-forks, guys! We’re going after Wikileaks and the Australian/Russian spy!” 

Y’all sure didn’t mind Wikileaks when they were exposing Bush’s Iraq war lies. 

Or helping Edward Snowden escape. So the NSA wouldn’t bust him for exposing mass-surveillance on average Americans. I still fail to understand why the NSA was watching Americans more than countries that we consider threats. Preeetty weird, but whatever, I digress.

Are you really naive enough to think that our mainstream media, which is owned by like 3 people, doesn’t have their own agendas? 

Personally, I grew up reading Harry Potter. Remember the Daily Prophet? Remember Rita Skeeter? J. K. Rowling wasn’t just making up an implausible fantasy, she was getting ideas from real life i.e. Voldemort = Hilter. Mainstream news can be pretty “fake” they just cover their asses by twisting around facts or focusing on the things they want you to know. Lying by omission.

We’re so busy freaking out about that Australian whistleblower that we don’t care about that other Australian who owns like half our media (exaggeration maybe, but still)? 

The Democrats are like, “Yes, but CNN and MSNBC have the right agenda (albeit the left agenda).”

 And the GOP are like “NOOO, Fox does!!!” 

Meanwhile, the small minority of independents (like 40% of voters) be like ‘um, guys?’ or more probably they are watching The Desperate Housewives (I have zero clue what is all the rave on TV these days?). Otherwise they would be as frustrated as I am.

My point, corporate media is biased and we can’t be so partisan-blindsided to think that each network, regardless of which party politics they favor, can’t have their sinister side. 

Let me, digress and talk about Obama for a minute (or for the rest of this rant). 

All the Dems are like, “YES, we love him.”

 First, let me just say, I voted for Obama. 

I was waving my sign declaring ‘YES WE CAN!’, believing it to my eighteen year old core. But then Obama was like, “Yes, we cannnnnnn’t do that, but let’s do this” and I get it, it’s politics. I voted for him again in '12. Nothing happens easily or quickly in politics, yada yada, but Obama still wasn’t perfect. 

He said healthcare reform and all the liberals were like, “Yes, single-payer!” 

All the GOP were like “Shut up, you commies!” 

So Obama’s said, “Let’s make everyone have insurance!” 

And the insurance companies and Big Pharma secretly did the polka in the background (because, boy, would they lose their billion-dollar profits if single-payer was the law of the healthcare land. God-forbid Americans have affordable healthcare.). 

Am I the only one who remembers that obamacare was supposed to be the door to single-payer? Not the door to higher premiums for middle class? You know, single-payer? That thing that, like, all the other industrialized societies have for healthcare. 

Maybe I’m wrong. 

Now, Obamacare is great for the poor and people with preexisting conditions. That’s totally what I told my conservative-buddies, in it’s defense, when Obama created it! It’s great if you’re under 25 and your parents have insurance, but it was and still is not the best we could have in regard to health reform. As a twenty-something who was working above minimum-wage I did not qualify for enough subsidies for me to cover those high premiums and deductibles while paying off my student loans. 

Sorry. Bill Clinton was actually being honest, for a brief moment, when he acknowledged the short-comings of Obamacare. But then he apologized after because Hillary was like, “WTF, Bill, my Big Pharma lobbies are attending next week’s fundraiser! You’re going to scare them away!” 

Besides healthcare, Obama said no war and then suddenly we’re in Libya. Obama has said that was his biggest regret, Libya. If that was Bush, Dems wouldn’t let that fly. 

The U.S. has been at war for Obama’s entire two terms in office. 

But he’s Obama. 

He’s soooo cool! 

He is cool. 

Obama and Biden memes will long haunt the Internet, but cool isn’t good enough

I vote for policy, and for candidates I hope that I can, to some degree, trust. Obama quite honestly disappointed me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge he did some good things for sure. Gay rights, I was thrilled. He opposed the KXL Pipeline, kudos! He stood up against Netanyahu with the Iran Deal, you go you! 

But then there was Syria, another intervention war. 

“We had to help them,” the Dems shout. “Save the Syrians from the Empire!” 

And on the right, “We had to fight the terrorists!” the GOP shout. 

Funny how party-lines cross when it comes to military. 

The funny thing to me is we’re best buds with the Saudi government. We’re not saving their people, or tracking down radicals in their country. Do you know where Saudi Arabia ranks in human rights? Anybody want to look into that? 

But, yeah, it was absolutely essential that we save the Syrians from the big bad Assad! 

No, dude, it didn’t have anything to do with that pipeline. 

Obama’s a Dem, he’s for climate change, what does he want with middle eastern oil. I mean you saw him rising up on the defense of the DAPL protesters… Oh, wait. 

Took him long enough, right?

Also, Russia? Really?

How many presidents have let the Israeli government whisper in their ears? (Meanwhile, screw the Palestinians. They don’t have oil. Heck, they barely have water. Thanks, Netanyahu *heavy irony intended in case you missed it*). 

Not to mention all that money candidates like, say, Hillary Clinton get from those Saudi princes. 

 And election fraud! 

First, can we get this straight, was the election hacked? Or did fake news convince people not to vote for Hillary? So, you’re telling me the Obama Coalition didn’t show up at the polls because they were swayed by far-right propaganda on facebook. Really though

Oh, wait, but not really because the election was hacked! The CIA said so and the FBI in 2016-typical indecisive fashion was like, “No, it wasn’t hacked.” Next day, “Yes, it was hacked. We can’t show you the proof, though, but we got it.”

Oh, wait, wait wait, no! It was all of those crazy Bernie supporters faults because they made everyone think Hillary was untrustworthy!

Whatever. This time in history is gonna be so bizarre for later generations.

Second, oh my god, where were you guys when Bernie supporters were piling into Arizona courthouses demanding their votes be recounted. Where were you when votes were mysteriously shifting during the New York Democratic primaries? When people’s voter registration was mysteriously changed?

You hate the Electoral College so much? What about lobbyists who double as super-delegates who’s votes count for more than idk how many precincts

Oh, the short-term memories of Americans. I mean. 

If you’re going to be woke, you have to be completely

You can’t have blinders on for your team

If you’re going to fight for human rights. You have to fight for ALL HUMAN RIGHTS (no, this is not an all lives matter thing. You do not have to explain to me why that phrase is missing the point. I was marching for Black Lives Matter. I am talking about Human Rights, right now, in regard to party politics and foreign policy). You have to educate yourself so one side can’t blind you to the atrocities committed by the other side while you aren’t looking i.e. sleeping.

You didn’t like Bernie because he wasn’t tough on Castro? Well, what about what Hillary’s State Department did to Haiti and Honduras?

While everyone is talking about Trump and Russia, which has more than enough attention, you could be bringing attention to important things.

Does Flint, Michigan, have clean water yet? 

Did we do anything about all those big corps burning up the rain-forests in Indonesia so they can sell palm oil products here in the States for like twenty times as much as they pay their child-workers? Not to mention what the burning of rain-forests does to the climate crisis.

Also, while you were fighting for Trans bathroom rights. Did you know what was happening to Chelsey Manning? 

Just asking, no biggie! 

Let’s bitch and moan about what that orange buffoon has said today. Even though corporate media will surely replay it until the end of mother-Fing time.

Crickets and outrage on both sides of the aisle? Guess this is why I’m an independent (and no that does not mean I’m associated with the Independent Party. It means screw your partisan bullshit, it exhausts me). 

End my not so friendly, not so politically correct rant.

(Disclaimer: All the images above belong somewhere on the internet. Their sources do not reflect my political beliefs. I just picked the image because it fit the point I was trying to make.

Other Disclaimer: You might be like, “Oh, this is just more fake news.” Don’t believe me? Go look it up. And then look up the sources of the sources you find and so on. Find out their agendas. That’s how you verify credibility. How often do these pundits tell us their sources?)