Jeremy Kuzmarov has written a seminal book, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (Clarity Press, August 2019), on the US Military Empire led for eight years by a black-faced president residing in the African slave-constructed White House.
The author peals the imperial white mask off the black skin in an analogy to Frantz Fanon’s classic work. Racism, colonization and contemporary neo-colonialization have distorted the psyches of many people of all colors. Barak Obama’s black Kenyan roots allowed him to do the white man’s bidding throughout Africa, and many other nations. While George Bush founded the US African Command (AFRICOM), in 2007, it was Obama, who set about implementing military (and economic) domination over African governments and lands.
Kuzmarov’s impeccable and extensive research reveals the reality of Obama’s eight presidential years favoring the rich class’ economic and military-warring interests. Like a few other seminal books about the US Military Empire—Oliver Stone/Peter Kuznick The Untold History of the USA and Douglas Valentine The CIA & Organized Crime—this historian has read, skimmed through and compiled thousands of books and pertinent articles about his subject. One might dispute the author’s analysis or conclusions but an honest reader cannot dispute the facts with which he shows how jingoist, brutal and unjust US foreign policy is.
Obama, the drone president, stood for seven aggressive wars at once, more than any other US president. In my view, he was the worst president in US history, because he hypocritically offered hope to the downtrodden, the discriminated against and the general working population, all the while doing the rich white man’s dirty deeds. He beguiled these folks, and he could get away with it, namely, because he had black skin and a Harvard voice, which he used to cheat people of all colors and nations.
Speaking to white and black readers sans condescension, Kuzmarov shows how many white progressives, who, in their anxiety to reject any racist appearance, embraced this warmongering president. Obama also convinced most African-Americans to give him leeway to do them justice, which he never did. Deluded African-American men joined the military in greater numbers than at any other time in history, and so they too fight for the weapons industry’s wars for profits.
Obama followed a traditional American Exceptionalism war-making approach with Woodrow Wilson as his principle idol. Wilson sent 13,000 US troops to invade Russia as the young revolution started, and set the tone for permanent bellicosity against this nation. Obama liked to be compared with him as he did with John F. Kennedy, who oversaw the Bay of Pigs invasion against Cuba, in 1961, who brought the world close to a world war nuclear catastrophe the next year, and who backed multiple coups and right-wing regimes under the benign sounding Alliance for Progress.
Like Kennedy, Obama provided a liberal front for policies that exacerbated internal inequalities and setback movements for progressive change, keeping us locked in the Cold War, and setting the basis for a new Cold War. Kuzmarov points out that the ramping up of police training and other alleged security measures had a “disturbingly negative impact on public safety, human rights, violence against women and democratic institutions,” quoting from an NGO study.
Obama was also a terrible manager of tax monies. Kuzmarov wrote:
The Obama administration is estimated to have added as much as $10 trillion to the U.S. national debt, the largest total of any president in history, and oversaw an increase in the debt to GDP ratio from 64.8% to 104.7% and a balance of payments deficit of $463 billion in 2015. China’s ownership of over one trillion of the U.S. debt helped to shift the economic balance in its favor as the U.S. dollar began losing its appeal as a global currency exchange, further undercutting the claim that Obama was a deft manager of empire. His administration wasted taxpayer money on billion dollar boondoggles like Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, which military analyst Pierre Sprey called ‘an inherently terrible airplane,’ while adversaries like Russia began to develop greater electronic and cyberwarfare capabilities and long-range missiles capable of threatening U.S. military bases.
In chapter two, using lies to market Obama, Kuzmarov wrote:
Strategically casting himself in Dreams from My Father as an heir to the early 1960s organizing tradition, Obama underplays the significance of his employment for a Manhattan-based consulting house to multi-national corporations, Business International Corporation (BIC)… Headed by a close friend of former vice president Hubert Humphrey, BIC had functioned as a CIA front with a subspecialty in recruiting left-wing organizers to use as assets, and in infiltrating foreign labor unions with the goal of promoting disruptions in targeted economies.
Instead of real community organizing, he worked for the Gamaliel Foundation, a satellite of the Ford Foundation. Once Obama became president, he closed down the only child welfare office in Chicago’s south side ghetto, and cut funds to black colleges. He made political friendships with other major capitalists such as Henry Crown and his son Lester, billionaires who merged their Material Service Corporation with the world’s sixth largest weapons company, General Dynamics. The Crowns own one-fifth of GD. Throughout his presidency, General Dynamics always benefited from the wars Obama oversaw.
In “Black Skin, White Masks” chapter, we read Frantz Fanon’s warning that the deep psychological effects of colonialism,
would yield a breed of post-independence leaders in Africa, who were submissive to white Western interests, and willing to keep their own people subordinate not just because they were cynically out for themselves but, because they believed in their own inferiority.
[Obama] status as a civil rights icon was undercut by many of his policies and aloofness from the plight of the black underclass. Obama’s yearning for peace was also a mirage and only apparent when he thought it might benefit him politically.”
He convinced 53 of 54 African nations to accept this militarization for neo-colonial profiteering. Obama’s agricultural policy promoted genetic engineering and chemical intensive agriculture at the urging of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DuPont and Monsanto, whose former executives served in his administration.
Obama’s “Power Africa initiative” relied heavily on US-Europe-African private sector investment. Obama also aided oil and mineral corporations in taking natural resources through massive bloodshed in many countries. The U.S. had amassed over 60 military outposts and was running one and a half military missions per day. Obama “intervened” in Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, Niger, Rwanda & Congo, Sudan & South Sudan internal conflicts on the side of right-wing factions and governments. He sent them military equipment, bombs and specially trained killer Special Forces.
“The Libyan intervention in particular shows Obama to be the kind of leader Frantz Fanon warned about: a black who served the interests of the white masters and helped legitimize their exploitative practices. Muammar Gaddafi was a long-time foil of the American Empire,” Kuzmarov wrote.
Gaddafi led a bloodless revolution, in 1969, against the Sanussi King Idris, a corrupt U.S. and British ally who gave concessions to Western oil companies in return for military and technical aid. Under Gaddafi, no Libyan went to bed hungry. Every newly-weds received $50,000 to start a family. Full education and health care were paid for out of the national oil income and taxes.
A Pan-Arab and African supportive of the Palestinian cause, Gaddafi kicked out the U.S. military when he came to power in 1969 and placed Libya’s high quality, light sweet crude oil under national control, reinvesting profits in health and education. Life expectancy increased from fifty-four to seventy-one years under his rule, the literacy rate went from six to 88 percent, and homelessness was eliminated. Through its state-owned bank which did not charge interest, Libya also financed an African satellite that slashed communications costs and became a world leader in hydrological engineering due to development of a man-made river that won a major UNESCO award for ‘remarkable scientific research work on water usage in arid areas.’
Obama and NATO invaded Libya in 2011 to protect “innocent civilians”.
“The Obama administration spent about $1 billion on Libya’s ‘revolution,’ and helped NATO with everything from munitions to surveillance aircraft, carrying out roughly 20 percent of the over 26,000 bombing sorties in the seven-month NATO mission that included dropping cluster munitions, phosphorus and Fuel Air Explosives which are outlawed under international law.”
“Hillary Clinton jubilantly told a reporter. ‘We came, we saw, he died,’”. “CIA director John Brennan told speechwriter Ben Rhodes that Qaddafi’s death ‘marked a fitting end for one of the biggest rats of the 20th century.’” Brennan later became the architect for fake news “russiagate.”
The tremendous progress for the entire population that the Qaddafi government had accomplished was destroyed by various terrorist factions backed by US/NATO. Since their “human rights victory”, estimates run at 600,000 killed and more displaced. Today, Libya is a haven for Al Qaeda and Islam State torturous warriors (numbering upwards to 10,000). They traffic in arms and international terrorism, make slaves of workers, sex slaves of women, and force African refugees to flee to Europe on boats that sink, causing the deaths of many thousands of people.
Re-colonializing Africa entailed Obama’s personal delivery of drones to murder Africans, also people in the Middle Eastern, whom he and his buddy, CIA chief John Brennan, considered enemies. The pair poured over “mug shots and biographies of presumed terrorists that looked like they came from a ‘high school yearbook’… One official termed them the ‘macabre baseball cards of unconventional war.’”
Sensitive to macho critiques that he wasn’t tough enough to be a Real American President, Obama sent out a press release, May 29, 2012, to the effect that he was the best drone president killer. Eighty-three of American Exceptionalists polled loved him for it.
Behind the scenes, one of 17 US intelligence services, the Defense Intelligence Agency, warned that this droning of weddings and other public events would backfire, and would create more terrorists than it kills.
During his eight years at the helm, Obama ordered 563 drone strikes against Middle Eastern and African peoples plus more than 1000 in Afghanistan. Internal communications leaked by Wikileaks shows that at least 1100 civilians were killed, plus some US soldiers, and that 90% hit were not the intended target. Obama’s favorite capitalist, Lester Crown, owns large shares in drone technology, and Obama’s second Secretary of State John Kerry owns such stocks as well.
Obama increased the war in Afghanistan, in order, he claimed, to decrease the war. In two separate waves, he sent in 51,000 additional troops (plus 117,000 civilian mercenaries). Just as his predecessors’ wars against the Indo-Chinese people, this warmonger knew this war can’t be won. Yet there is the advantage of opium. When in power, Taliban wiped out most of the opium. Since the US took over, 90% of the world’s opium comes from there, and the CIA has control over much of it. Thus millions of its enemies who border Afghanistan—Iran, China, Russia—are introduced to opium-heroin and become addicted.
Eighteen years into this war, Obama’s weapons industry donor friends also have the advantage of getting many new weapons tested for future use.
The alleged murder of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, on Mayday 2011, by two dozen Navy Seal Team 6 raiders under the direct command of the CIA probably did not take place, Kuzmarov wrote.
US American and Pakistan officials, and US sailors, differ about what took place.
No photos of the body, and others allegedly killed in the house that day, were made public nor were DNA tests allegedly conducted by CIA/DOD and Homeland Security. No independent sources were allowed to see test results, which the government said proved bin Laden was killed that day. They also said they buried him within hours, according to Muslim custom. His body was supposedly thrown from the US warship carrier Carl Vinson. Sailors spoken with said they saw nothing.
Kuzmarov cites expert sources that believe bin Laden had long been dead from an incurable renal failure requiring constant dialyses. Furthermore, how could it be that 30 of these special killer Navy Seal Team 6 were killed three months later when Taliban forces shot down a transport helicopter in which they were traveling? Obama spokespersons said they had not been at bin Laden’s death, but family members asserted the US government turned this elite force into a target by revealing their role in the bin Laden raid. They might have talked?
I skip over the war against Iraq (space limits), which Obama continued from George Bush period, to come to the “Pivot to Asia”.
“The Asia Pivot was symbolically introduced by Hillary Clinton on a U.S. naval destroyer in Manila Bay, the location for America’s original pivot in the 1898 Spanish-American Philippines War. The carefully choreographed event implied a proud continuity from an era most historians consider to be shameful since U.S. soldiers committed heinous atrocities, and at least 200,000 Filipinos were killed,” Kuzmarov wrote.
Resistance against continued US interference in both domestic and foreign policies has increased in many Asian countries since the Asian Pivot began. Islanders on Guam and many other islands dominated by US military are weary of its war games and pollution and want the Yankees to Go Home. This is the case as well for many South Koreans and Japanese.
China is not any military threat but the US has 200 military bases and many other military facilities in the Asian area. China has one outside its own territory (in Djibouti Africa). Yet China, just as Russia, must now spend funds and time building more weapons of defense as the US encroaches closer and closer.
Obama’s pivot failed to get his Trans-Pacific Partnership passed. China’s constructive development projects, such as the “Great Wall of Sand” in the South China Seas, its “one belt, one road initiative,” a massive infrastructural development project aiming to connect the Pacific and Baltic Seas, helps bring it supporters and prestige while the US loses its.
As the United States and Western Europe were mired in growing debt, corruption, and economic and moral decline, China was gradually forging an effective counter-pole to Washington’s New World (dis-)order in conjunction with Putin’s Russia. In April 2015, China took a major step in their campaign to supplant the dollar as the world’s dominant reserve currency when European members of the IMF embraced China’s demand to include the yuan as a unit of IMF currency.
Again, US foreign policy is all about oil/money/dominance. It is estimated that the South China Sea, which the US wants to control, contains 213 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubicle feet of natural gas.
Chapters eight and nine—too many lies, the new cold war with Russia, and Obama’s betrayal of his Cairo vision—are the most detailed-researched of the ten chapters. They cover the war in Syria, the US-neo-fascist coup in Ukraine, the referendum of the Crimean people to join with Russia, Saudi Arabia/Yemen, Zionist Israel and Palestinians.
Obama sent his emissaries to Ukraine to back the right-wing factions against the duly democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych, who sought to trade and partner with both sides: Russia and US/EU. He would not join EU or NATO, so neo-fascists brought about the violent Maidan crisis in February 2014.
Three Georgian mercenaries told Italian TV journalist Glan Micalessin they were the snipers at Maidan on February 20, 2014 when 80-90 people were killed. They were ordered by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and paid $1000 each by his military advisor Mamuka Mamulashvilli. Former US 101 Airborn Iraqi war paratrooper Brian Christopher Boyenger accompanied them over several days of the Maidan violence leading up to the coup.
The three Georgians are: Koba Nergadze, Kvarateskelia Zalogi and Alexcander Revazishvilli.
Obama’s special envoy to Ukraine Victoria Nuland told the US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who would lead the coup government, and that is what happened. The pro-fascist Svobada party’s hero, Stepan Bandera, became the new government national hero. He supported the Nazis and helped murder 900,000 of Ukraine’s 1.5 million Jews. Svobada got several seats in the coup government.
The US government, and one of its major capitalist partners, George Soros, spent several billion dollars to boost the coup, and even proudly announced this as evidence that “America’s taxes go to humanitarian causes”. The fact that hundreds of workers and demonstrators were killed by pro-fascist groupings was not worth considering.
Forcing a right-wing coup caused the March referendum in the Crimea, in which 96% of the 83% voting cast their ballot to join with Russia. One year later, the very capitalist Forbes magazine, wrote: “The US and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves, but the Crimeans are happy right where they are…mostly all [are] in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine.” 93% said the referendum was legitimate, only 2% said it was not.
Obama sent money and arms for coup government and neo-fascist mercenary attacks on Eastern Ukraine. Russia offered some support to Donetsk insurgents, but would not bring them into the Russian Federation, which was their desire.
Vice-president Joe Biden, and his son, made big money from the coup government, and its rich associates. This fact is quite relevant today. As I write this review, the House of Representatives has just started an impeachment process against President Donald Trump for, namely, suggesting that Biden and son cheated.
The Biden family was one of the major beneficiaries of America’s interference in Ukraine. While the Vice-President was overseeing U.S. policy toward Ukraine, his son, Hunter joined the board of one of Ukraine’s most profitable and corrupt energy companies, Burisma, which gave the potential to the Bidens of becoming billionaires. Journalist Peter Schweizer points out that Biden regularly consulted with [President Petro] Poroshenko by telephone and made five trips to the Ukraine between 2014 and 2017 while his son’s business partners prepared to strike a profitable deal with controversial and reportedly violent oligarchs Kolomoisky and Zlochevsky, who would benefit from his actions. Schweizer’s investigation further pointed to the disappearance of $1.8 billion in U.S. taxpayer guaranteed money to Ukraine. The IMF loans disappeared after going through Kolomoisky’s private bank.
Kuzmarov’s chapter nine deals primarily with the countries where the US backed Arab Spring protestors in those countries where the US sought regime change. These protestors rapidly became violent and received US armed support. Where the US backed the governments, protestors were not aided: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia.
The Arab Spring quickly turned into a long and dark winter, first in Libya, then in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria where America, promoting regime change, allied with jihadists who corrupted any hope of positive democratic transformation. Little progress was made in the Israeli-Palestine conflict as Obama increased arms shipments even as Israel pulverized Gaza in a murderous 51-day war. The double standards of U.S. foreign policy were vividly apparent in Obama’s copious arms sales to Saudi Arabia as it assaulted Yemen, and Obama’s support for other state sponsors of terrorism like Pakistan and Turkey under strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which no longer required a State Department license to import American weapons.
Supporting Zionism and apartheid against Palestinians in Israel and surrounding areas also led Obama to be tight with the six Sunni Muslim Gulf States.
Over eight years, he sanctioned a record $115 billion in arms sales to the Saudis in 42 separate deals and protected the kingdom by refusing to declassify 28 pages from the 9/11 report on Saudi Arabia, which could possibly detail their role in the terrorist attacks. Obama also vetoed legislation allowing 9/11 victims’ families to sue the Saudi government.
“The Obama administration further provided over $20 billion in new weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia after the Yemen war broke out and forty million pounds worth of jet fuel. Weapons included Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, F-15 jet fighters, cruise missiles, ‘smart bombs,’ white phosphorus, an incendiary that burns through the skin to the bone, and a $1.5 billion shipment of 152 Abrams battle tanks made by General Dynamics, twenty of which were destined to replenish vehicles from Yemen. Previously, the Obama administration sold cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia made by the Rhode Island Company, Textron, whose shell-casings were recovered at the site in Western Yemen.
Since Iran also demands to right to its sovereignty and is principally Shia, Zionist Israel and Sunni Gulf States attack it, the Shias in Yemen, and the multi-religious Baath government of Assad in Syria. Terrorist opponents to the Assad government attack Christians, while Assad’s government protect them. It is also a fact that the majority of Syrians living in Syria back the Assad government and view IS as backed by the US and its allies.
US/NATO/Israel allowed terrorists IS and al Nursa to murder and expand its base until September 2014 when some effort to fight them began.
To cite one fact concerning such support, Kuzmarov wrote: “One group directly armed by the CIA, Nourredine al Zinki, formed a coalition with an outfit called ‘the bin Laden front.’ It was singled out by Amnesty International for carrying out gruesome atrocities in rebel-held Eastern Aleppo.”
That is why Russia had to come to Syria’s defense, to effectively crush these terrorists since enemy states of Syria would not. It was also Putin who convinced Assad to turn over whatever chemical weapons he had and did so to the world’s greatest producer and user of such horror weapons.
It was President Putin, again, who prevented a war against Iran by helping its government make a deal with the West not to develop atomic weapons, much to Obama’s surprise and perhaps chagrin.
“A key feature of the new Cold War has been the incessant demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and depiction of Russia as a neo-Soviet autocracy. Obama said that the main goal of U.S. policy was ‘to put him in a box to stop making mischief’. Such comments were part of Obama’s efforts to cast the new Cold War as a moral crusade against an evil dictator,” Kuzmarov wrote.
Obama began economic sanctions against the Russian government, in 2012, and expanded it many times—as has Donald Trump—to hurt the entire economy and population, all because President Vladimir Putin insists that Russia is sovereign and will not be dictated to. American Exceptionalism ideology will not accpt such rogue brashness.
I skip over the pathetic attempts to vilify Putin and Russia as responsible for the election of Donald Trump, russiagate, as there is so much information and evidence that it is a total lie. Kuzarmov covers it well using sources that know what they are talking about, including previous high-level NSA technicians and intelligence men who turned whistleblowers, William Binney and Edward Snowden.
The last chapter summarizes the many countries in Latin America that Obama “meddled” against, backing the far right and attempting to topple the progressive and pro-socialist oriented new governments, especially those in the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America) economic-political coalition.
This coalition began in 2004 on the initiative of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and Cuba President Fidel Castro. The conservative Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya saw benefits for the people in joining it, and because of that, right-wing generals, backed by Obama and his Secretary of State Hilliary Clinton, overthrew Zelaya in a coup, June 28, 2009. Obama-Clinton immediately recognized the coup government while the rest of the Americas did not.
Just half a year later, I accompanied Bolivian President Evo Morales to the COP15 climate summit held in Copenhagen as one of two PR workers. I helped him, and sometimes President Chavez, meet the media. These two giants for Latin American sovereignty did not hold their tongues concerning the American Exceptionalist President Par Excellence. Kuzmarov opens thusly:
In December 2009, Venezuela’s leftist President Hugo Chavez gave a speech at the Copenhagen climate summit mocking President Obama, whom he referred to as having won ‘the Nobel Prize of War.’ Chavez considered Obama a phony who had won the peace prize ‘almost the same time as he sent 30,000 soldiers off to kill innocent people in Afghanistan.’ Referencing his famous 2006 speech at the UN when he had held up Noam Chomsky’s book Hegemony or Survival and referred to George W. Bush as the ‘devil,’ Chavez said he ‘still smelled sulfur’ coming from Obama as he was perpetuating many of the same inhuman policies.
Evo Morales, the first indigenous leader in Bolivia’s history, followed Chavez by excoriating Obama for being the only leader to leave the summit’s stage from a concealed door. If Obama genuinely wanted to promote positive social change, Morales said that he should ‘use the money you are spending for wars against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, for militarizing Colombia with seven military bases to save lives, to save the planet, our Mother Earth.’
It was exhilarating to see and hear these two real leaders tell it like it is!
Obama’s policies in Latin American were worse than Bush II, who concentrated on the Middle East. When Ecuador’s leftist president Rafael Correa closed U.S. military base at Manta, the rightist Colombian government granted the US five military bases on its territory, to help fight peasants, unionists, left-leaning organizations, political parties and progressive governments.
Obama continued the “war on drugs” in Mexico, which causes the killings of two dozen people daily—around 8000 a year—and an increase in drug and weapons trafficking.
In Paraguay, Obama supported a right-wing parliamentary coup against the progressive president and bishop, Fernando Lugo.
The one bright spot was Obama’s easing of the blockade against Cuba, and the release of the last three of five Cubans imprisoned for infiltrating Cuban exile terrorists groups in the US, in order to prevent their terrorist activities against Cuban people—also something the CIA was behind.
If opening up somewhat to Cuba can be judged as positive (bearing in mind that many major US capitalists such as the Rockefellers had been calling for an end of the blockade for decades), the only other one positive action he took (which I can recall anyway) was to release Chelsea Manning from prison. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that it was the Obama administration that put her in prison, and tortured her, in the first place.
Obama’s presidency in many ways shows how liberal-progressive politicians can be more dangerous than their conservative counterparts, who tend to be more truthful in their aspirations to dominate the world and earn profits in whatever ways, thus making them easier to mobilize against.
Journalist Glen Ford aptly described Obama and his wife Michelle as a ‘two cynical lawyers on hire to the wealthiest and the ghastliest’ who are ‘no nicer or nastier than the Romneys and the Ryans [opponents in 2012 election], although the man of the house bombs babies and keeps a kill list.’ He also had a Big Brother complex. Every day during Obama’s presidency, the NSA intercepted and stored more than 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other forms of communications.
Glen Ford is Black Agenda Report’s chief editor. He wrote an excellent foreword to this book. Ford opens his foreword thusly, and so I close my long review.
“Barack Obama may go down in presidential history as the most effective—and deceptive—imperialist of them all.”