President Barack Obama declared during his second inauguration speech, “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.” However, one of the main legacies of Obama’s presidency may be that his administration further institutionalized a framework for a global “war on terrorism” with no end in sight.
In a report released on December 5 on the “legal and policy frameworks” for pursuing war, Obama suggests the frameworks show the U.S. is capable of defending its interests at home and around the world in a manner consistent with the “laws, values, and traditions” that are a “source” of America’s “greatest strength.”
There are six “theaters” of war, which the report highlights: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. It omits Pakistan, where the CIA has launched drone strikes, as well as countries in Africa, like Mali.
How many civilians have died as a result of these wars? How many civilians have been displaced and turned into refugees, as a result of U.S. warfare in these countries?
The report does not address the human cost of the global “war on terrorism.” It does not suggest whether any goals or objectives in this endless war have been achieved over the past 15 years. Instead, with the ominous election of Donald Trump looming over the country, the report serves as a document capable of insulating the Obama administration from criticism that officials may have gone too far in expanding the presidential power to wage war and carry out “national security operations.”
The track record of the U.S. in “theaters” of war is to pursue war policies, which aid in destabilization and spur the rise of extremist groups that become enemies of the U.S. These enemies provide the U.S. justification for expanded war efforts and touch off a deadly cycle that guarantees countries transform into failed states that may never be hospitable for humanity ever again.