Thursday, October 4, 2012

Black Men's Burden: Drone Strikes and Obama

When Barrack Obama got elected as the President of the USA, I thought that he will be dogged by a clear dilemma with no strategic solution, namely he would have to decide between saving the US economy or continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • If Obama was to continue the wars and with increased defense spending, the American economy would have been stretched to the limits and could have collapsed.
  • If Obama was to pull out of the wars and cut defense spending, he would have been labelled as unpatriotic and his African American credentials would have put a question mark over the patriotism of all African Americans in the USA. Thus weakening the US polity.

As it happened, Obama tried to save the economy and, limit the wars and curtail the defense budget to manageable limits. Obama refused to engage Iran and Syria militarily or go alone over Libya; Obama tried to invoke the Eisenhower model of military alliances thus sharing the costs with other countries. And it is no surprise that Obama is labelled as soft and apologetic in foreign policy matters by the Republicans, which are gentle words for being unpatriotic or a traitor!

However, perhaps cognizant of the aspersions on his patriotism Obama has not been able to take decisions to change the policies which are not effective and inhumane but which had lesser economical impact such as the drone strikes in Pakistan's Tribal Areas.

The drone strikes have clearly been counter productive in winning the hearts and minds battle are inhumane and ineffective but the American government has been unable to put an end to an this ineffective policy.

The explanation for this failure perhaps lies in the dilemma that Obama faced on getting elected and continues to face: he needed to save the American economy without being branded as unpatriotic or weak, especially since he is the first African American President. Only solution to this dilemma was to end the expansive wars and continue the policies with low economic impact but deemed supremely macho and which Obama could wave as the symbols of his patriotism! Drone strikes is just one such policy unfortunately for Pakistan and the children and the parents of the Tribal Areas.

The good news is that if Obama is reelected the pressure on him to be seem to be tough and patriotic may lessen along with the black man's burden that he has been carrying!

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