US President Barack Obama is a troubled man these days. His second term has been marred by global and domestic events that puncture holes in his track record. The first African-American president of the United States had inherited a difficult legacy from Republican president George W Bush.
Obama had to clean up the mess of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The pain of the September 11 attacks was still fresh in American memory, and the perpetrator — Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden — often used to cock a snook at the most powerful nation in the world. The start of Obama’s presidency was a challenge and the Illinois senator took them on with confidence.
His biggest achievement was the capture of Bin Laden on Pakistani soil. The dramatic operation saw American Special Forces — known as SEALs — raid a residential compound in Abbotabad near Islamabad and kill the fugitive terrorist. The event created ripples across the world and Obama’s ratings soared to an all-time high. The events in Pakistan, which is Washington’s biggest ally on the war on terror, had echoes in the United States. Drone strikes in areas along the volatile Afghanistan border were undertaken by the US, and it created a backlash in Pakistan with public opinion sharply turning against such attacks that were taking a heavy toll on civilian life.
The tide slowly started turning against Obama, who was unexpectedly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the beginning of his first term. First it was national healthcare insurance, called Obamacare by Republicans. The much-vaunted scheme, when finally launched, hit an information technology glitch for which the Obama administration was held accountable.
The promise to close Guantanamo had been his key poll plank. However, he couldn’t do it because of lack of cooperation by Republicans.
The Arab Spring saw Washington maintain a safe distance from the events in the Middle East. The multiple massacres in Syria by Bashar Al Assad’s beleaguered regime triggered calls for intervention by Washington. But Obama would have none of it. His then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s suggestion for armed intervention was shot down and she went to town with the news, exacerbating Obama’s troubles for a while.
In Libya’s Benghazi, the US lost its envoy in a militia attack for which the State Department was hauled over the coals. Islamic State’s march in Iraq and Syria is now bothering the Nobel Peace laureate and Gaza has also shaken him. As if the foreign policy front wasn’t bad enough, the violence in Ferguson forced him to break his golfing holiday in Martha’s Vineyard. The police has been accused of racial bias after a black teenager was fatally shot in the Missouri town.
Obama’s troubles can’t be just attributed to bad luck. As the leader of the most powerful nation, he has to bear responsibility for all foreign policy debacles that have undermined his rule•