Obama’s sixth 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 day of his 2015 State of the Union address, we offer the following annotated assessment of which moves over the past year have been on balance positive, neutral and negative, and arrive at an overall score:

Pseudo-withdrawal from Afghanistan
We are so tired of the stupid, arrogant US-centrism that universally infects left, right and center in the United States, by which it is assumed that Washington's (so-called) "withdrawal" from Afghanistan "ends the war." This would be obvious bunk even if the US "withdrawal" were real—which it isn't. Nearly 12,500 NATO troops are to stay in Afghanistan as "advisors," the big majority supplied by the US. Civilian casualites reached a record high since 2008 last year, and opium production broke all previous records. The September deal that put an end to the electoral dispute was yet another warlord carve-up. Calling this "peace" is Orwellian. Negative

Conniving with Bashar Assad
As we had long predicted, when the US finally intervened in Syria last year it was not against the genocidal dictatorship of Bashar Assad, but against the jihadists of ISIS and the Nusra Front. Contrary to the prevailing conspiracy theory on the left of a US destabilization campaign against Assad, the White House is clearly looking to him as a de facto ally against the jihadists. This just became nearly official, with the latest State Department diplomatic initiatives on Syria containing no language about Assad stepping down—an abject betrayal of the legitimate demand of the Syrian rebels who have been putting their lives on the line to bring down the regime. The Kurdish defenders of ISIS-besieged Kobani are grateful for the US air-strikes against ISIS, and we are in no position to judge them for it. But we have noted that even a de facto alliance with US imperialism opens new contradictions for the Syrian rebels. Nothing reveals the cynicism of US intentions like this latest betrayal. Negative

Blank check for Israel… of course
The US never cut off aid to Israel during last summer's bombardment of Gaza—on the contrary, Washington even allowed Israel to access an emergency US arms stockpile it keeps in the country. But now that the Palestinians want to bring a war crimes case against Israel before the International Criminal Court, the US is threatening to cut off its comparatively minlmal aid to the Palestinian Authority in retaliaion. Utterly depraved. As we said last year: The fact that Obama is demonized by the right as anti-Israel is just part of the pathology. Negative

Drone wars drone on… and on
After a six-month hiatus, the US resumed drone strikes on Pakistan in June, and they have been unrelenting since. Crunching the numbers, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism arrives at a high figure of 183 killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan last year, 118 in Yemen, and 33 in Somalia. If this is supposed to be beating back the jihadis, it isn't exactly working. Being on the receiving end of the Empire's high-tech fire-power just gives them cachet in the eyes of their potential cannon fodder. And actual jihadi militants certainly constitute a minority of those killed—while the "collateral damage" merely breeds more jihadi militants. The drone strategy is creating the proverbial hydra-headed monster, as witnessed by escalating nightmarish violence in Pakistan and Yemen. Obama still hasn't figured it out yet? Negative

Covert action against North Korea?
With equal cowardice, Pyongyang and Obama each failed to take responsibility for the tit-for-tat cyber-attacks in the tiresome affair over The Interview. Did US covert action take down North Korea's Internet access in December? If so, we must as ask (as we did in the Osama bin Laden hit) whether this was legal—with no Congressional authorization or UN approval. We are alarmed that nobody else seems to be asking this. Now comes news that the US will help South Korea develop a "reverse-asymmetrical" weapons capability to counter the North's nukes. God knows there is no easy answer to the intractible Korean dilemma (although we take what heart we can from civil dissent to the division of the peninsula). But meanwhile, adolescent spy-vs-spy games and a new arms race are only making things worse. Negative

Hypocritical sanctions on Venezuela
Amid the #BlackLivesMatter protests in the US, and continued Washington underwriting of brutal regimes from Colombia to Egypt to Pakistan, the White House suddenly develops a touching concern with the rights of opposition protesters in Venezuela. (The BBC News noted June 22 that the White House had "unlocked" $575 million in military aid to Egypt that had been held up due human rights concerns.) The reek of politics in the sanctions imposed on Caracas officials could not be stronger. Negative

Chilling out over Cuba already
The endless USAID-CIA intrigues against Havana, which have escalated under Obama, only make things more difficult for authentic, autochthonous voices of pro-democratic dissent in Cuba, making it easier for the regime to paint them as as imperialist dupes or agents. Obama's current opening to Cuba may now paradoxically place further pressure on these dissidents, with any action they take portrayed as an extension of the Washington design. It is also to be assumed that the US corporate interests that support the opening are betting on a recolonization of the island in the après-Castro. So activist vigilance is called for here, not uncritical celebration. All that said, this is still a good thing. Positive

Fiddling while planet burns
As we've noted before, the fact that Obama is baited by the righties as a Green Stalin is again part of the pathology. At the UN climate summit in Lima, the US and other Northern powers once again resisted demands from the global South to take greater responsibility for addressing the climate crisis they disproportionately created. This does not raise much hope for real progress at the next summit in Paris. The US bilateral climate pact with China foresees such pseudo-solutions as carbon-trading. Obama's EPA climate plan similarly peddles such market-based technocratic scams—a mere distraction from the urgently needed crash conversion from fossil fuels. We're tempted to go with "Neutral," given that at least Obama is acknowledging the problem, rather than denying it outright as the Republican competition does. But an illusion of progress does nothing to slow the destabilization of the biosphere. We have to say: Negative

Guantánamo torture continues
To again give credit where it is due, Obama is trying to resettle the remaining Guantánamo detainees in those countries that will take them—over Republican intransigence. But it is disgraceful that Obama's Pentagon is fighting in court to keep public eyes away from videos showing the force-feeding of hunger-striking detainees. As we had to note last year, force-feeding is a kind of torture. And we don't even know if this hideous practice is continuing; as the Miami Herald notes tonight, the Pentagon has issued orders "to stop disclosing" whether hunger strikes continue at Gitmo. Negative

Trans-Pacific Partnership
We noted this one last year as well—another free trade agreement that would further roll back public oversight of resource exploitation, making nonsense of all Obama's noise on climate change. Fortunately, there hasn't been much progress on this over the past year, and China has meanwhile launched a counter-initiative, the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. But Obama is still aggressively plugging the TPP, in a race with the Beijing-led competition as to who can destroy the planet faster. Negative

Defending net neutrality —if belatedly
To requisite howls of protest from the industry, Obama in November said he backs net neutrality, and is urging the FCC to adopt rules protecting it. We must again give credit where it is due, even if he was belatedly pandering to his base after the humiliation of the mid-term elections. Positive

Positives: 2
Neutrals: 0
Negatives: 9
Overall score: 81.8% Negative

Last year's score was 93.3% Negative