Recently, US president Barack Obama criticized Filipino president Duterte for his extrajudicial policies aimed at dismantling the ruthless drug cartels operating in his country. Obama’s critique is absolutely stunning for it’s blatant hypocrisy.
Perhaps even more shocking is the western media’s complete silence in pointing out such a glaring double standard. As far as taking measures without legal proceedings, Obama’s administration is perhaps the worst offender in the world.
Western journalists are causing further rifts between Americans and the rest of the world by failing to understand the geopolitical reality of the Philippines while turning a blind eye to America’s foreign policy. We must try to understand the world with an objective standard In order to avoid further misunderstandings and severed alliances.
Obama’s broken promises
When Obama first ran for president, he campaigned on the promise of restoring civil rights. Under the Bush administration, civil liberties had been ripped apart. Many Americans were wary of a growing surveillance state.
Obama promised to close the extrajudicial torture facilities in Guantanamo bay and prosecute the financial criminals who created the 2008 global financial crisis.
After viewing the destruction of civil liberties under the Bush administration, I confidently voted for Obama during his first campaign. But perhaps I was just being naive.
To the disappointment of many, he broke his promises. Guantanamo bay detention facilities continue to operate 8 years later, and many detainees were never given a fair trial. The civil rights violations of the Bush administration continue, and were even expanded under Obama’s watch.
In 2009, he signed into law the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA violates the US constitution by allowing the indefinite detention of American citizens, and suspending the right to a fair trial.
In other words, Obama made extrajudicial measures the law.
And that may not even be the worst he’s done. In 2014, he was granted the authority to carry out extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens without giving them the right to a fair trial. Shortly after, he did just that, and now at least 4 Americans have been killed by drone attacks.
But that is just a drop in the bucket. Under Obama’s reign, thousands of people have been killed as a result of extrajudicial killings.
Obama’s extrajudicial killings
Despite promising to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama once again failed to keep his promises. Under Obama’s reign, new military operations were launched against Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Cameroon, and Uganda. In many cases, these were invasions which constituted blatant violations of the country’s sovereignty.
While mainstream media pundits may argue that these invasions were justified, the record seems to suggest otherwise. Since the campaigns were launched, the region has seen an increase in violence and terrorism.
By ousting the leaders of these nations, some of whom were democratically elected, it’s created a vacuum of power and political stability. This void allowed the rise of ISIS, one of the most sadistic groups in known history. A rift of sectarian violence has also swept through the land, engulfing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
- a : not forming a valid part of regular legal proceedings
b : delivered without legal authority
- done in contravention of due process of law
During these campaigns, Obama has overseen a ruthless program of drone assassinations that have terrorized entire populations. Some sources suggest that drone aircraft operations may be responsible for over 4000 extrajudicial assassinations alone. While military sources maintain that most of those targeted are combatants, independent sources claim that almost 90% of those killed weren’t the intended target.
Many of these attacks may have targeted aid workers who simply helped the wounded, in what’s commonly known as a “double tap” in military lingo. Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings states that any attack on aid workers is a war crime. Even funerals have been targeted.
No matter how you look at it, Obama’s tenure as president witnessed the destruction of constitutional liberties, invasions of sovereign countries, and widespread use of extrajudicial killings.
For Obama to criticize another democratically elected president of extrajudicial killings is the height of hypocrisy.
For the western media to ignore such blatant double standards is an outrage. By doing so, they will only create further divisions between America and it’s allies.
Why it matters
After traveling to many countries and meeting people all over the world, it’s surprising how alike most people are. Often they just want to live a comfortable life, raise a family someday, and be left in peace to enjoy their lives. Many people take pride in their cultures, and enjoy sharing it with others.
Travel allows a rich experience for us to understand more about ourselves and each other.
The actions and words of our rulers affects how we’re viewed by other nations. Through our rulers’ destructive foreign policies and meddling in the politics of sovereign nations, innocent Americans often have to deal with the fallout. Policies and declarations that are based on ignorant misunderstandings and double standards can lead to permanent rifts.
Severed alliances can morph into sanctions and travel restrictions, or outright bans. Entire populations may be isolated from the rest of the world, and exposure to other cultures can cease altogether. When this occurs, it leads to greater misunderstandings, trade crises, and social instability.
Hypocritical judgments based on ignorance are the first step along a dangerous path. Republican or Democrat, elected officials often break promises and pursue the same policies. As normal citizens, we have little power over what our rulers say or do.
But we can affect our own knowledge and actions.
What we can do
As travelers, we represent tangible diplomats of our native culture. What we do and say shapes how we’re perceived by our hosts. It’s important that we attempt to achieve an accurate picture of the world.
Considering our leader’s words don’t match their actions, it’s clear we should take their words with extreme suspicion. As our media refuses to cover issues in a fair and balanced fashion, we should also view their coverage with a critical eye.
It’s our responsibility to educate ourselves through multiple perspectives and personal experience. Exposure to new ideas grants us greater knowledge of our surroundings. Greater knowledge anchors our actions with reason and objectivity.
Only when our actions are based on mutual respect and understanding can we begin to establish beneficial relationships.
Through our personal interactions, we can provide others with a positive perspective for those that will arrive after us. While politicians often damage the reputation and safety of Americans abroad, we can make a difference.