Also known as, “What Hope and Change?”
1. Yemen - Drone strikes and funding the suppression of the Arab Spring
After 9/11 the Bush administration intensified support for Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was in power for over 30 years. This support was mostly security assistance under Bush, with and exchange of military equipment and one drone strike.
HOWEVER the Obama administration sent many more drone strikes, with a promise from Saleh that his military would take the blame for the strikes. Instead of pacifying militant Islamist groups (the supposed goal of drone strikes in the region) the violence only angered these groups more.
Furthermore, the Central Security Force of Yemen was funded and trained by the US to counter terrorism, but those guns were also responsible for the suppression of the revolutionaries during the Arab Spring.
2. Somalia - Drone strikes, invasion, and extremist reaction
In 2006 the Bush administration pushed Ethiopia to invade Somalia in response to the increased power of Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts. This invasion resulted in 20,000 deaths and up to 2 million homeless Somalis.
The Obama administration’s increase of drone strikes also hit Somalia, leading more Somalis to join the radical Islamic group Al Shabab, which controls a third to a half of the country and was responsible for the confiscation of many food aid packages from the UN. Other factional fighting, which is responsible for the famine and poverty that plagues Somalia, has also intensified thanks to the drone strikes.
3. Honduras - Coup, trained slaughtering police
The elected leftist president Manuel Zeyala found his election cut short after three years with a coup in 2009. Committed to such actions as free education and lessening poverty, Zeyala should be a natural ally of the supposedly like-minded president Obama. But after a short period of condemnation of the coup Obama and his administration started to support post-coup president Porfirio Lobo, whose government has carried out massive violence against political opposition, journalist, and small farmers.
Obama’s response? Ask for more money to fight the drug war in Honduras. The war on drugs, which by no means is confined to Honduras, has led to the US forces militarizing the Honduran police, with such consequences as an attack on a boat supposedly carrying drugs but instead carrying passengers. With four innocent villagers left dead, including two pregnant women, animosity towards the police and the US only intensified.
4. Mexico - Police and military kill and torture, increase in drug violence
Similarly to the situation in Honduras, the Bush administration worked with Mexican security forces under the Merida Initiative, working on “fighting the drug war” by spending billions of dollars on training the federal police and military. However these same forces have participated in murder and torture, among other human rights violations. And counter to the intended effect, drug-related violence has gone up, not down.
So what did the Obama administration do? Extend the Merida Initiative indefinitely. The total death toll from drug-related violence is estimated at 50,000 as a result of fighting fire with US-backed fire.
5. Pakistan - Drone strike central, undermining democracy
The Bush administration sent 44 drone strikes to Pakistan; the Obama administration sent over 300. The intended target is the Taliban, which has been hit, but the drones also have killed an appalling number of civilians. Between 500 and 900 civilians have been killed, over 1000 injured. The democratic government looks like a joke for legislating against drone strikes and having no power to do anything about them.
And what is the stated purpose of drone strikes in Pakistan? Spreading democracy.