Is Obama Trying To Outdo Bush?
George W Bush is generally considered the worst president the United States has had in the last 80 years - and many would argue even longer than that.
But Barak Obama, it seems, is trying to outdo him - at least in foreign policy. Bush needlessly started the Iraq war, did nothing re Israel/Palestine, and saddled the U.S. with the human rights abuses of "the war of terror" and Guantanamo Bay. True, Obama has drawn down the troops in Iraq. (There are still 100,000 U.S. boots on the ground there, and regular terror attacks, so lets not get too excited about that achievement.) But he single handedly ramped up the war in Afghanistan so that it will soon rival Iraq as a quagmire - no possible victory and no easy way out. And though he started out with brave words re Israel/Palestine but has since completely folded: obviously not willing to invest any more political capital in pressuring Israel to agree to any concessions at all. And now the coup de grace of shame - he has not only reversed his previous stance re closing Guantanamo, he has done Bush one better in the injustice game.
According to an article in today's Toronto Star:
U.S. President Barack Obama has cleared the way for future Guantanamo military trials and sanctioned the continued detention of terrorism suspects considered too problematic to prosecute, but too dangerous to release.
Even Bush never sanctioned perpetual incarceration without trial. But now Obama is saying that if the administration can't guarantee a guilty verdict - even in highly prejudicial military tribunals - then they can just hold people, deemed "too dangerous" to let go, forever without trial.
While the numbers - 172 prisoners remain in Guantanamo - don't match Stalin's numbers, the methods exceed Joe's. Stalin at least insisted on show trials. Are the lives of 172 people not worth dues process. Are the Americans so sure that everyone of them is guilty - even if they can't prove it to their own hand picked military judges? Is justice so easily scorned; human rights so easily trampled; due process and legality so mocked? What exactly is the difference between Guantanamo and Gulag?
How can America claim to "lead the free world" when it can't bring itself to do what's right as soon as it feels threatened, or as soon as the President decides it not popular to pursue justice and human rights. In January 2009, speaking of his executive order to close Gitmo, Obama said:
"This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."
Was he lying then, or did he just lose his nerve (and his conscience) over the past two years? Actually it makes no difference. Obama is now competing to be one of the weakest and most ineffective most conservative (and therefore bad!) Presidents on record, at least on foreign policy and human rights.