Obama’s second year: a World War 4 Report scorecard

World War 4 Report has been keeping a dispassionate record of Barack Obama’s moves in dismantling, continuing and escalating (he has done all three) the oppressive apparatus of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) established by the Bush White House. On the second anniversary of his inauguration, we offer the following annotated assessment of which moves have been on balance positive, neutral and negative, and arrive at an overall score:

Obama orders government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020:
Almost any such effort seems like too little too late, but at least this administration recognizes the problem. Positive

US imperialism to outsource lunar invasion:
The space-boosters will doubtless accuse us of being kneejerk Luddites, but we consider this an unequivocal Negative.

White House drops “Plan Colombia” nomenclature:
This would be a merely cosmetic change if it weren’t accompanied by a 20% cut in military aid. Colombia’s blood-drenched regime still remains the largest US aid recipient in the Western Hemisphere, so this is grossly insufficient, but it still counts as a Positive. At least in a relative sense.

White House to boost nuclear weapons funding:
Officially, the money is going towards research and maintenance of the existing arsenal, not expanding it. But however you slice it, we call Negative.

US, Russia agree to nuclear arms reduction treaty:
Going from the ability to destroy the world 10 or 20 times to the ability to destroy it only once or twice is only (as the treaty is dubbed) a START. But a start is better than no start. Positive

White House asks Congress for $410 million under Merida Initiative:
An insufficient de-escalation in Colombia is concurrent with a big escalation in Mexico and Central America. Negative

Pentagon abandons two-war doctrine —but not the two wars:
This one really does seem pretty cosmetic. But at least it indicates a doctrinal rejection of starting any new wars as the US draws down troops in Iraq and focuses on “one war” in Afghanistan. Considering that the Bush boys were considering a third war in Iran, we have to call this a Positive.

Moscow demands answers on US-Romania “missile shield” deal:
Obama has downsized the Bush plans for a European “missile shield,” but not abandoned them. Negative

Holder “flexible” on trying 9-11 suspects in civilian or military courts:
The first signs of capitulation to the Republicans on this critical question. Negative.

White House mulls indefinite detention: Sen. Graham:
Another such sign… Negative

Federal judge upholds detention of Yemeni Gitmo detainees:
The administration continues to fight detainees’ habeas corpus petitions. Big Negative.

Obama plans “dramatic reductions” in n-arms —but not “no first use” pledge:
The new Nuclear Posture Review calls for slashing the arsenal (as mandated by the new START treaty anyway), but rules out a “no-first use” pledge. Negative

White House revives military commission option for 9-11 trials: reports:
Yet another sign… Negative

UN rights experts urge civilian trials for 9-11 suspects:
As the Obama administration continues to retreat before the Republicans. Negative.

Napolitano halts work on “virtual” border fence:
But not on the “real” one. Still, a Positive

Obama names new chief for Gitmo tribunals:
Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald, who has repeatedly testified before Congress in support of the tribunal system. Negative

Obama threatens to nuke Iran?:
In a New York Times interview ahead of the release of the new Nuclear Posture Review, Obama singled out Iran and North Korea as countries that would not be covered by Washington’s pledge not to use nuclear weapons against states complying with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Negative

Robert Gates does Colombia, Peru; calls for more bases, free trade:
The Bush-era plan for US military bases in Colombia has been halted—but by Colombia’s judiciary, not the White House. The Peru free trade agreement is in place (and already displacing indigenous people from their lands to make way for oil interests), with Bogotá next in line. Negative

Obama Justice Department urges Supreme Court not to hear Maher Arar appeal:
The administration remains intransigent in the Bush-era case of a Canadian “rendition” victim. Negative

Kerry-Lieberman climate bill wins praise —and outrage:
The bill failed, despite the administration’s endorsement. With provisions for carbon trading, expanded offshore oil drilling, and big subsidies for oxymoronic “clean coal” and “safe nuclear power,” we can be grateful for this. Negative

Obama to send National Guard to Mexican border:
Under pressure from Republican, of course, but that doesn’t let him off the hook. Negative

Haiti: Obama signs HELP sweatshop law:
Activists charged the White House was using a “humanitarian alibi” to advance “US geopolitical, economic and military interests” in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. We agree. Negative

McChrystal ouster: the neocons strike back?:
We read the ouster of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of US forces in Afghanistan—and his replacement by Gen. David Petraeus, author of the Iraq “surge”—as a tilt back to the ultra-interventionist neocons. Negative

Gitmo detainee to be repatriated to Yemen after judge orders release:
The administration did the right thing here, but only because the courts forced it to. Neutral

ZOG theory goes mainstream:
There’s no excuse for ugly “Zionist Occupation Government” rhetoric, but Obama’s blank check to Israel sure doesn’t help matters any. Negative

Merida Initiative funds mired in red tape: GAO report:
A GAO study finds that the Obama administration has significantly picked up the pace in stalled military aid to Mexico. Here’s one case where we were rooting for the red tape. Negative

Iraq: countdown to withdrawal?:
Neither a complete “withdrawal,” nor on the 16-month timetable Obama promised upon his inauguration. Still, Positive

Last US “combat troops” leave Iraq; private sector to pick up slack:
Not only is “combat troops” an obfuscation (50,000 US troops remain in Iraq), but the fine print reveals that the draw-down of military troops is concomitant with a beefing up of private contracted personnel. Negative

Clinton: Mexico needs “equivalent” of Plan Colombia:
After years of protesting that the Merida Initiative is not a new Plan Colombia, the Secretary of State spills the frijoles. She gets points for honesty, but the message is sinister. Negative

Obama administration invokes state secrets to block targeted killings lawsuit:
The White House claims the right to assassinate US citizens abroad. Very Negative

UN investigator calls for inquiry into Iraq rights abuses:
UN Special Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak calls for an investigation in response to WikiLeaks revelations. The Obama administration has no comment. Negative

White House acknowledges Gitmo to remain open for foreseeable future:
We could see it coming, and Republican intransigence sure didn’t help. But still a very big Negative.

Tunisian protests: neocon conspiracy?:
Obama offered lip service to the heroism of the Tunisian protesters—only after the dictator had fled. We read this as just wanting to get on the right side of history, not as part of any neocon conspiracy to overthrow every Arab government. This is a weak positive, but still a Positive

US to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014: Biden:
Backtracking on a deadline for withdrawal. Negative

Obama administration may resume military commission trials: NYT:
This is looking worse and worse. Definitely Negative

Positives: 7
Neutrals: 1
Negatives: 27

Overall score: 77.1% Negative

Last year’s score was 63.3% Negative

See our last posts on the Obama administration and the politics of the GWOT.

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