The youth vote was instrumental in securing Barack Obama the win on Nov. 4, 2008. But with the President comfortably settled in at the White House, this generation of voters and supporters of candidate Obama must learn to become the critics of President Obama. By blogging Obama’s first 100 days in office, we hope to remind the new administration that just because the election is over, doesn’t mean we’ve stopped paying attention.
Day 4 — Jan. 24, 2009: Bombing our allies
The U.S. military on Friday authorized two remote missile strikes in Pakistan. The five rockets fired at two rural villages killed an estimated 22 people, only eight of whom are suspected foreign militants. An unspecified number of civilians were also killed in the two missile attacks, according to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry as reported by the AP.
The Obama administration has obfuscated the process by which these strikes were authorized and his press secretary has ignored questions about Obama’s personal involvement in making the decision to launch the missiles.
“I’m not going to get into these matters,” was the response of press secretary Robert Gibbs when reporters pressed him on the strikes. This is not the response of a President who has nothing to hide about the way he will conduct foreign policy. At least Bush made an attempt, unconvincing and false and manufactured as it may have been, to offer up justifications for his actions.
To further confuse the matter of who authorized the strikes and when, not only would Gibbs not take questions, but also, tellingly, Obama organized the first meeting of his National Security Council for Friday afternoon, after the strikes had already been carried out. Yet the president is usually briefed on matters that include the U.S. military killing citizens of a foreign country and it is reasonable to assume that Obama gave his consent.
Although in his inauguration speech, Obama promised that “we will not give [our ideals] up for expedience’s sake,” apparently he did not mean to include a respect for diplomacy, human life, or state sovereignty in those ideals. Using military force to exact deference from Pakistan toward the United States is an action that is motivated only by expedience. While negotiating with Pakistan might have taken months, killing their citizens took seconds.
Obama has so far hidden behind vague commitments and a Pentagon that doesn’t seem to be on the same page as the State Department. For example, no one has enumerated the concrete conditions on which aid to Pakistan will be conditioned upon. And Secretary of State Clinton has said she wants diplomats to be responsible for handing out aid, while the Pentagon’s preferred counter-insurgency method has used the military for these ends.
At least 132 people have been killed in 38 suspected U.S. missile strikes inside Pakistan since August, all conducted by the CIA, in a ramped-up effort by the outgoing Bush administration.
Much of the hope that liberals had in Obama was that he would be able to improve the U.S.’s standing in the rest of the world. Yet he has failed miserably on this promise. The Washington Post has reported that according to senior officials in both countries, a tacit agreement was reached in September that would allow the U.S. to continue to seek out terrorists in the northwest regions of the country. Obama, by bombing Pakistan, has merely extended the military offensive that Bush put into place. Not satisfied with merely following Bush, Obama has made plans to launch a surge of 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan.
We were promised diplomacy and an end to unilateral, unprovoked attacks of sovereign nations. As much as Obama may talk up his attempt to woo Pakistanis by increasing foreign aid to the country, the Pakistani government will remain unwilling to deal diplomatically with the U.S. if they fear that more rocket fire is coming.
Go back to day 3.