Rhetoric and Reality … Time, The Illusion and The Wave of Change …
Though I often use sarcasm to approach what seems ludicrous and to make sense of the ridiculous, I am fully aware of our world’s current climate and the urgency of the situation. When I decided I establish this Facebook account, I made a promise as to how it would be framed and presented. Rather than it being something akin to a global classroom passing along notes to each other, I hoped for something mo
A lot of noise continues to flood our ears regarding the state of the United States and its relationship with the world.
I am offering this essay in an effort to separate rhetoric from reality, because in my opinion, Foreign Policy continues to be two ‘dirty words’ and in many ways, a taboo subject that many candidates, stemming back to the Carter Administration would rather see swept under the proverbial rug.
Notwithstanding, let us take a look at the state of United States and its relationship with the world over the past four (4) years.
Despite his stated support for a two-state solution, Obama has opposed Palestine’s UN bid for statehood, and has declared that, if the issue is brought to the UN Security Council, the United States will veto it. When Palestine was given membership in UNESCO, the United States canceled UNESCO funding. Similarly, though Obama makes public statements deriding the continued advance of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, the US vetoed a UN resolution (sponsored by 130 nations, including all other members of the Security Council) opposing the settlements.
The Obama administration dropped its attempts to persuade Israel to halt construction of settlements in Palestinian territory and allowed the moratorium on construction to expire, a serious problem not just morally but diplomatically, as Palestinian authorities have refused to engage in direct talks as long as Israel was building on lands seized from Palestine in 1967.
Under the Obama administration, use of unmanned drones in military raids has severely increased—of the 309 known strikes, all but 52 took place after Obama took office. The exact number of people killed is not known (publicly at least), but the Bureau of Investigative Journalism places estimates between 2,373 and 2,997; at least 391 and possibly as many as 780 were civilians, including 175 children. These figures are based largely on media reports; in most cases, the actual identities of the victims are unknown, and as such there is the real possibility that a large number of “alleged militants” are actually civilians. The bulk of drone attacks have been in Pakistan, but the U.S. has also used the weapons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia. A State Department legal adviser said it was “the considered view of this administration” that American drone attacks abroad constitute “self-defense”.
In September, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was killed in a targeted assassination on Barack Obama’s explicit orders due to alleged al-Qaeda ties. Obama’s Justice Department argued in court, after Awlaki was placed on the list but long before he was killed, that the President has the authority to order the assassination of American citizens deemed a threat without a trial or even charges, and that this authority is not subject to judicial review.
After the scheduled military pullout from Iraq at the end of the year, the State Department will continue to employ 5,000 private security contractors in the country, including the controversial company DynCorp.
During the “limited humanitarian intervention” in Libya, the U.S. dropped dozens of bombs on the nation, even after the rebels succeeded in taking the capital. American-backed anti-Gaddafi forces have been implicated in numerous human rights abuses, including indiscriminate arrests of sub-Saharan African nationals, torture and sexual assault of detainees, and a mass execution of Gadaffi loyalists at a hotel in Sirte; there are reports that black Libyans are being lynched by rebel forces. The National Transitional Council’s interim leader announced a desire to return to traditional law and repeal the nation’s divorce laws.
Obama has resumed the war in Somalia. In addition to the aforementioned drone strikes, the U.S. is giving millions of dollars to Somali troops described by reporters as “ineffective”. The U.S. is also giving support to Ugandan, Kenyan, and Ethiopian military troops to fight in Somalia.
In 2009, the United States used a cluster bomb against an alleged al-Qaeda training camp; the attack is estimated to have killed 41 civilians. The United States is one of few industrialized nations not to have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Obama administration has continued Bush’s refusal to sign the Mine Ban Treaty.
The Obama administration shipped arms to Saudi Arabia to quell a rebellion in North Yemen, while publicly claiming to be uninvolved. When larger masses of Yemenis began protesting the long-standing rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Obama administration supported Saleh; after it became clear that the movement against Saleh was too broad, the White House became involved in the negotiations to remove Saleh peacefully, all while continuing its drone war against alleged Yemeni terrorists. When Saleh finally stepped down, Obama praised the transfer of power as “a new beginning” , despite continued protests in the country against the immunity from prosecution Saleh received in the power transfer agreement.
The Obama administration revived a Rumsfeld plan to equip ICBMs with conventional warheads—a plan that even the Bush administration eventually scrapped because it was too dangerous.
In 2010, the State Department hired Xe services, better known as Blackwater, to provide security at new U.S. consulates in Afghanistan. Nearly simultaneously, Xe was given a contract to provide security at CIA bases in Afghanistan and other undisclosed countries.
The Department of Defense sold $60 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in 2010, including 84 F-15s, 190 helicopters, and massive amounts of bombs and missiles.
The United States has expanded its clandestine presence in Middle East and nearby countries, friend and foe, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. This new order makes it clear that such operations are intended to be long-term.
The Obama administration worked out an agreement with Afghanistan that would keep U.S. troops in the country until 2024.
What we can Expect ……
Both candidates agree that military intervention in Iran should be the last option and both would like for a diplomatic course to be followed first. Where they differ in opinion, is in the amount of sanctions that should be implemented, and the timing of such sanctions.
President Obama has come under extensive scrutiny for placing too many conditions on the table when referring to the Israeli / Palestinian relationship.
What I would like to see is a balanced and fair approach … In other words, we must continue to put pressure on Palestine and deny them statehood so long as they continue to call for the demise of the Jewish state. Likewise, it is imperative that we reprimand Israel for its wanton disregard for the principles of international law as it continues its advancement into the West Bank.
We can expect neither candidate to push for negotiations at this time. Both recognize the current climate will not welcome peace talks. Stalling and more blame will be the likely tactic going forward.
If as a nation we are brave enough to apply pressure on all fronts, I am confident that we will reach real diplomatic solutions.
It is unfortunate for this region in turmoil, because I believe a push for dialogue would be a win-win approach considering the masses are now beginning to change mentally. An undercurrent of awakened consciousness lies just below the surface and as global citizens we should be willing to ride the wave.
Thank you for reading … See you at the polls … Peace & Blessings, Maritza