25 December 2013, 16:47

Obama's biggest failures in 2013

Obama's biggest failures in 2013

Is the Obama presidency failing? In fairness, he's still in office. But polls show that among modern presidents, Obama is seen as the biggest "failure". Among his failures are his Syrian strategy and Obamacare, the NSA surveillance scandal and government shutdown, the Boston marathon terrorist attack and this is not to mention the mass shootings. But let's look back at everything in order.

In his final press conference of 2013 President Barack Obama has admitted the main failures of US foreign and domestic policy of the outgoing year. But it was only a small part of all the failures. Let's start from very beginning.

Boston marathon bombing

Barack Obama has come under a barrage of criticism over the Boston marathon terrorist attack. As it turned out, immediately after the terrorist attack the Russian security service sent a stark warning to the FBI, reporting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was "a follower of radical Islam" who had "changed drastically since 2010" and was preparing to travel to Russia's turbulent Caucasus to connect with underground militant groups. Six months later, Russia sent the same warning to the CIA. It looks like the 'see no jihad, hear no jihad, speak no jihad' policy works. The CIA directly asked the FBI to place Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers, on its counterterrorism watchlist handled by the National Counterterrorism Center. It remains a mystery why Obama's administration did nothing to prevent these events.

During the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded at 2:49 pm EDT, killing 3 people and injuring an estimated 264 others. The bombs exploded about 13 seconds and 210 yards (190 m) apart, near the finish line on Boylston Street.

US authorities could have prevented the bombings by acting on these warnings, senior members of the Russian Federal Security Service told US Representative William R. ­Keating of Massachusetts. Keating said the Russian security agency FSB showed him information including "the names, the addresses, the cellphone numbers, the iPad accounts, e-mail, Facebook pages... the fact that he was trying to get involved to go to Palestine and deal with insurgencies there" that apparently led the CIA to add Tamerlan to a terrorist suspect database.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said in earlier remarks to reporters that the Boston bombing case "is becoming, to me, a case study in system failure."

"You have Russian intelligence services contacting two agencies within our federal government responsible for our national security, the FBI and the CIA," he said. "They tell us, 'We believe you have a radical Islamist in your midst.' " Despite the warning and the FBI's initial follow-up, Mr. Graham said, Mr. Tsarnaev was able to visit Dagestan and return unnoticed, and discuss "killing Americans" openly on the Internet undetected.

Syria

The US strategy in Syria is unraveling. The Obama administration failed to acknowledge that a Syrian rebel group was capable of making chemical weapons and could have been responsible for the August 21 sarin gas attack that left hundreds of people dead. Seymor Hersh in an article in London Review of Books wrote:

"When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad]," writes Hersh, a longtime Pulitzer Prize and Polk Award–winning national security reporter. Of course, that strike was eventually called off, but the report undermines the narrative the administration presented to the American public — and the rest of the world — as they made their case for going after Assad late this summer.

The key dynamics on the ground in Syria are: Islamic brigades are coalescing after the largest Islamist rebel brigades rejected the planned government-in-exile of the Western-backed Syrian National Council (SNC); al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is expanding its territorial control by fighting Kurds and rebels. The United States, rather than read the signals early on and arm the Syrian opposition when it was making substantial gains, allowed a vacuum to form and then fretted when that vacuum was filled by jihadists.

"The situation in Syria is changing faster than the administration can keep up," Rogers said. He said that US support for moderate opposition groups is "less than robust" and has been hobbled by "inconsistent resource allocation with stated goals."

Iran and Middle East

For the last two years President Obama has been obsessing with "engaging" the Muslim world. But the intensity of relations with Israel shows that it is not as smooth in the Iranian issue.

The Obama administration's Iran policy rested on three pillars - ​the peace process, engagement, and containment. The first would win the newly elected president credit with the Arab people of the Middle East and empower the Arab states to gather in a robust coalition against Tehran. As for the second, even if engagement failed to bring Iran back into the community of nations, it would prove to Washington's European allies and, more important, to Russia and China, that the Obama White House had gone the extra mile, which would, in turn, make containment possible.

All three efforts have now failed, which may explain why recent Israeli news reports suggest Jerusalem is moving toward a decision about a military strike of some sort against Iran's nuclear program.

Even Obama's rival Mitt Romney critisized him, saying that Obama's biggest failure is the way he dealt with Iran's nuclear program.

"Perhaps the biggest failure is as it relates to the greatest threat that America faces and the world faces, which is the nuclear Iran. The president has not drawn us further away from a nuclear Iran and in fact Iran is closer to having a weapon, closer to having nuclear capability than when he took office. This is the greatest failure, in my opinion, of his foreign policy."

And that's despite the fact that Obama has no proof that Iran enriches uranium to create weapons. Dominated by the desire to reach the deal with Iran Obama has managed to break the partnership with colleagues in the Middle East.

NSA surveillance

Big brother is watching you! Who has not heard about NSA surveillance these days? Do you need any words?

Of course, Mr. Obama has promised that he may halt the National Security Agency's collection and storage of millions of Americans' phone records and instead require phone companies to hold the data. After lying dormant for years, the government surveillance issues shot into the spotlight after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked a trove of secret documents. Snowden is a fugitive from the US and living in Russia, where he received temporary asylum. Some of his supporters have pressed Obama to grant him amnesty, though the President declined to comment on those calls.

"I will leave it up to the courts and the attorney general to weigh in publicly on Mr. Snowden's case," he said.

But can we still trust you, Mr. President? You even spied on your counterpart! Angela Merkel and Dilma Rousseff are also in that vicious circle.

Obamacare and Government Shutdown

It's maybe the greatest dissapointment of the outcoming year. Can you just imagine that the government of the one of most powerful countries was shut for 16 days, can you? And it happened just because Mr. President could not get congressmen to agree.

And Obamacare was one of the stumbling blocks.

Meanwhile the latest polls show, that 36 percent of Americans see healthcare reform as one of Obama's biggest failures.

Mr. Obama has continually promised more from his signature healthcare reform than it can deliver. In addition to telling Americans that they could keep their insurance if they liked it – a pledge that millions now know was untrue – Mr. Obama said the law would extend coverage to the one in six uninsured Americans, reduce costs for the other five and improve delivery for all six.

There ought to have been more scepticism about whether he could make a thing universally available, of higher quality and cheaper all at the same time. Only price controls and public provision could conceivably have done that. And Mr. Obama had ruled those out early on.

Mass shooting

Just think about all those mass shootings that have been happening across the US. Doesn't it scare you?

Mass killings such as the Newtown Elementary school massacre and the slaughter of moviegoers in Aurora have led many to think the country is getting more murderous.

Amario Dominguez III was only 6 months old when he was shot in the head in Oklahoma City in August. The infant was the youngest victim of a mass killing this year. The oldest: Dottie and Bob Pape, both 84, of Fernley, Nevada, shot during an apparent robbery.

In 2013, 137 people died in 30 mass killings! Just look at these figures. When you add up the numbers, a very disturbing picture of Obama's presidency begins to unfold. He was elected as the "racial uniter", the Nobel Peace Prize president who was going to "stop the rise of the oceans" and "heal our planet." How do you explain these figures, Mr. President?

And what did Barack Obama do? Nothing at all.

President Obama has just proposed a gun control legislation. In one of his interviews, the President said that he had advanced the gun debate as far as he could. But if legislative items like expanded background checks on gun purchases are to pass, he said, Congress will have to take the next step.

Words, words, words...

His inability to deal with issue effectively prompted many to wonder what Mr. President will do when someone breaks into his house with a gun when he is no longer in the White House. Will it push him to make something more real than just words? On the other hand, it's unlikely that he will experience something like that because even when he is away from the White House he will still be under the watchful eye of his bodyguards. 

Faith in Mr. Obama's competence was already negative. Doubts now extend to his personal integrity. A majority of Americans tell pollsters that they no longer believe he is always telling the truth. Obama's ratings countinue to fall. Voice of Russia correspondent Ekaterina Shcherbakova in her article has written why Barack Obama is acknowledged as the weakest US President of all time.

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