Obama, the (ongoing) war president

10 Apr

When America voted Obama as the next President instead of John McCain, many around the world, including liberals/ pro-demcorats/ anti- republicans thought things will change. After all, this is the first black President (debatable) who has promised the world that ‘yes we can’.

If we remember correctly, Obama was portrayed by a compliant media as different from his Republican contender; as a force for good who will be less warmongering than his predecessor. The fact is probably they are not much different when it comes to wars.

Besides his unequivocal support for Israel in the Occupied Territories, Obama has asked the Congress for ‘$83.4 billion in new contingency funds to maintain U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and ramp up spending in conjunction with Pakistan’.

A Politico report reveals that much of the funds still goes to Iraq due to the presence of bigger troops. More than 90 percent of the requested funds will go to the Pentagon and as much as $400 million of the proposed funds will go to counterinsurgency in Pakistan, in addition to an estimated $1.4 billion devoted to coalition support in Afghanistan. This means that, ‘

… new Pentagon spending would total about $75.5 billion, including $59.9 billion directly related to operations and personnel, $3.1 billion for intelligence related costs and about $11.6 billion for related equipment costs.

Together with prior bridge funding provided last fall by Congress, total defense contingency spending would be $141.7 billion for the 2009 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30…

According to independent media reporter, Jeremy Scahill, this ‘supplemental funding’ would mean that the cost of the Iraqi and Afghanistan invasion totals up to 1 trillion since September 2001 according to Congressional Research Service. He also noted in a another posting that, ‘… Obama has vowed to break with the Bush-era tradition of seeking such supplementals to fund the war, saying that beginning in 2010 he will fund the wars as part of his overall budget…’

And if we dig deeper into Obama’s voting patterns (before he became the President), he was rather supportive of the invasions (according to AP) (emphasis/ bold – mine):

– May 2005: Congress approved an $82 billion bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and international anti-terrorism efforts. Obama voted yes.

– June 2006: Congress cleared a $94.5 billion bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as provide aid to hurricane victims. Obama voted yes.

– September 2006: Congress cleared a $448 billion Pentagon funding bill that included $70 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama voted yes.

– April 2007: Congress cleared a $124 billion spending bill that provided $90 billion for war costs but mandated the withdrawal of U.S. troops within six months. Obama voted yes, but President George W. Bush vetoed the legislation.

– May 2007: Congress approved a roughly $100 billion spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and domestic projects, including hurricane relief. Obama voted no.

– December 2007: Congress cleared a $555 billion catchall spending bill that included $70 billion for U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama did not vote.

– June 2008: Congress approved a measure to spend $162 billion for war costs as well as provide a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits and emergency relief for the flood-ravaged Midwest. Obama voted yes.’

It is clear that Obama has NOT departed from the American tradition of producing war presidents. His stance on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan demonstrates that he may not be as different as his predecessor in this aspect.

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