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Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Legacy War and Intervention?

© AFP 2021 / JIM WATSON US President Barack Obama speaks to reporters following a National Security Council meeting on the counter-ISIL at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, December 14, 2015
US President Barack Obama speaks to reporters following a National Security Council meeting on the counter-ISIL at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, December 14, 2015 - Sputnik International
On Wednesday, the US armed forces held a farewell ceremony for outgoing President Barack Obama, featuring the leader receiving a Medal of Distinguished Public Service. Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear speaks with journalist Ben Norton about the legacy of Obama’s foreign policy and the impact it may have under incoming President Donald Trump.

"If I had to summarize Obama’s legacy in just one aspect, I would say it would be war and militarism." Norton stated, pointing out that Obama is "one of the only presidents in recent history who has had two terms of standing war, and this is very rare."

​He added that, "Right now as we speak the Obama administration is overseeing bombing campaigns in six countries, all of which happen to be in Muslim-majority countries."

Norton points to the US resuming its bombing campaign in Libya late last year as a prime example of Obama’s hawkish policies. He pointed out that after a 2011 invasion of Libya that ousted then Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi, the east African country "plunged into extreme chaos," and roughly a third of the population became refugees. 

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Comparing Obama to predecessor and fellow two-term President George W. Bush, Norton explained that although Obama has overseen numerous wars, Bush "was much more of a traditional imperialist. He did not hide the fact that he was interested in regime change, that he was interested in overthrowing foreign governments that were enemies of the US." 

He said that Obama, realizing the unpopularity of putting US troops on the ground in areas of conflict, used drones and proxies to satisfy Washington interests. "So if you make those wars covert, it you send in special ops, if you work with other countries or other forces on the ground…(and) essentially outsource your war, then many Americans won’t even know about it." 

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Norton described the incumbent as "a much smarter imperialist" than his predecessor.

Loud & Clear host Brian Becker pointed out how Obama carried out drone strikes against foreign civilians and Americans while shielding himself from the courts.

He called this "an aggregation of immense executive-almost dictatorial authority that negates fundamental democratic norms."

Norton agreed, adding that Democrats often do not face the same scrutiny for their actions as do Republicans, not only in war but also "domestic atrocities" like deportation, noting that nearly 3 million people were deported under Obama’s rule.

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