OBAMA: PROMISES, BROKEN PROMISES AND COMPROMISES IN US FOREIGN POLICY
United States of America has a new president elect Donald Trump and Barrack H. Obama has a few days to leave the Office. Obama is a high profile democratic president with a Harvard degree and intellectual background in comparison to Trump. When it comes to keeping up with the promises, no intellectual background is a warrant. So happened with Obama in his two terms.
One of the promises Obama kept is ending the war in Iraq which his predecessor had started. It was a war going nowhere, economically and politically putting the US into trouble. However US army is not totally out of the region yet. With its highest number of 180.000 in 2008, it has still got 5.300 soldiers in the region. The promise not to keep any permanent bases in Iraq has also been kept. On the other hand the aid program targeting the 5 million refugees of Iraq War has been broken.
Though Obama seems to be a dove, he has increased the number of marines 27.000 and the army 65.000 troops. While he ended the war in Iraq, he sent two additional brigades to Afghanistan according to his promise. But his plan of ending the war 2014 has failed. Obama said “We will kill Bin Laden” in 2008 and kept his promise in 2011. However “We will crush al-Qaida” promise couldn’t be kept.
The promise regarding to Israel has been kept of course. As no other democratic or republican president broken his promises on aids to Israel, Obama has also kept his promise to give $30 billion in a decade. Nevertheless the promise for foreign aid increase to $50 billion hasn’t been kept totally. There was an increase through the years but it was $25 billion at the highest which can be called a compromise. The promise of global education fund of $2 billion -especially for the poor regions of Arica- has been broken as well.
The Obama administration has had hard times repairing the image Bush had done. One of the few steps to regain the sympathy particularly in Muslim countries was to increase the interaction with them. One of the first visits after his election was to Turkey in 2009. In 2010 according to a public diplomacy plan, the first American House has been opened in Indonesia. Just like the Goethe Institutes and British Councils, these places will be the centers telling the American story. Despite keeping this promise on public diplomacy, Obama’s promise to launch a new America’s Voice Corps has been broken. It was a project to “hire experts in Arabic, Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa, Farsi, Urdu, and Turkish with public diplomacy skills, who can ensure our voice is heard in the mass media and in our efforts on the ground.” One other public diplomacy promise that has failed is the increase of Peace Corps in Americas. Both the number of the volunteers and the funding left behind schedule.
One of the most important promise presidents Obama couldn’t keep is closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Calling it a “detention center” is a fraud. As according to the Geneva Convention war criminals must be given the rights to see their lawyers. However, by calling them “detainees” but not “prisoners”, US military can keep them forever without any trial or other rights.
Another failed promise of Obama is the negotiations with Turkey and EU (Greece in particular) on Cyprus. He was determined to establish a sovereign monolithic Cyprus but it is not an easy job.
The last promise Obama failed to keep was telling “genocide” to 1915 events of Armenian uprising and suppressing of it by the Ottoman government. In his first presidential campaign in 2008, Obama said “Two years ago, I criticized the secretary of state for the firing of US Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term genocide to describe Turkey's slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. As president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.” However on Armenian Remembrance Day in 2016, he used phrases such as “mass atrocity” and “tragedy” but he didn’t utter the word “genocide.”
To sum up president Obama have had both promises kept and broken in US foreign policy. In domestic policy he can be considered better in keeping his promises like economic and health policies. It is now time to wait and see which of the promises Donald Trump will keep such as building a wall to the Mexican border!