Obama’s presidency, an incomplete balance sheet


Obama and Bush, cartoon

This cartoon is about United States President Obama and the legacy of wars, scandals, and economic collapse of his predecessor George W Bush.

Soon (or, maybe not that soon, remember the 2000 election) we will know who will succeed Barack Obama as president of the United States of America.

Just before we know that, a balance sheet on this blog of Obama’s presidency.

I warn people who think that Obama never did anything wrong that they won’t like it.

I warn people who think that Obama never did anything right that they won’t like it either.

My personal view is that, unless very unexpected things will happen, Obama will turn out to have been a better president than either his predecessor George W Bush; or his successor; whether that will be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. However, that in itself does not really say much.

This balance sheet will be extremely incomplete and unsatisfactory, because:

– The new president will only take over in January 2017, and one never knows what may happen between now and then.

– During the eight years of Obama’s presidency, thousands of events occurred; far too many to deal with in a blog post.

– Like with other presidents, many documents, emails etc. relevant for discussing Obama’s presidency are still secret, top-secret or whatever. Some of them may only become known in thirty years’ time; some of them never.

Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign differed from other campaigns. Many politicians claim: Yes, I can. However, the slogan of Obama’s campaign was: Yes, we can. Implying an essential link between the candidate and a movement of millions of people wanting a better country and a better world.

Obama won that election. However, on that 5 November 2008, this blog warned:

Much power in the USA still lies with unelected bosses of big banks, Big Oil, Big Military Production, etc.

The recently deceased US peace activist Tom Hayden said there are people more powerful than the president in the Washington establishment; like in the Pentagon and CIA bureaucracies. Obama would find that out.

At the inauguration of, eg, George W Bush, there were not so many supporters; and many protesters. While at Obama’s January 2009 inauguration, there were more people celebrating in Washington DC than with any other president; millions of them.

However, later, when Obama might have conflicts with right wingers within his own administration, or with Congress, or with Big Business, these big crowds did not return to demonstrate in Washington or elsewhere in his support. What had happened? The link between Obama and the movement which had elected him had become looser and looser. The new ‘Yes we can’ had changed more and more into the old ‘Yes I can’. And ‘I’ can improve a lot less than ‘we’.

Symbolic of this was the September 2009 dismissal of Obama administration environment official Van Jones, as a result of pressure by Big Oil.

In 2012, Jones reflected on this problem:

The Age of Obama: What Went Wrong (and How to Fix It) …

I say Obama relied on the people too little, and we tried to rely on him too much.

Let me speak personally: looking back, I do not think those of us who believed in the agenda of change had to get beaten as badly as we were, after Obama was sworn in. We did not have to leave millions of once-inspired people feeling lost, deceived, and abandoned. We did not have to let our movement die down to the level that it did.

The simple truth is this: we overestimated our achievement in 2008, and we underestimated our opponents in 2009.

What did the Obama presidency mean for war and peace issues?

In 2009, one thing did not augur well. Obama kept George W Bush’s Secretary of War … sorry … ‘Defence’, Robert Gates, at the top of the Pentagon.

In 2011, Gates was replaced by CIA boss Leon Panetta. While CIA boss, Panetta had defended George W Bush era CIA torture against Obama. As Secretary of War … sorry … ‘Defence’, Panetta clashed with Obama, as the Pentagon bigwig thought Obama was not hawkish enough on Iraq and Syria. It is to Obama’s credit that in 2013, contrary to the wishes of warmongers like US Republican Senator McCain and the Saudi absolute monarchy, in 2013 he did not use the United States Air Force for regime change war in Syria, in practice as allies of al-Qaeda and ISIS. It is also to his credit that he de-escalated the relationship bewteen the USA and Iran.

In 2013, Obama replaced Panetta with Republican senator Chuck Hagel. Replacing the Democrat Panetta with a Republican may sound bad. But actually, it was sort of an improvement. Hagel had opposed the 2007 ‘surge’ escalation in Iraq by his fellow Republican Bush. He was one of few Republican politicians thinking the Republican propaganda slogan of ‘small government’ might also be applied as some cuts in the bloated Pentagon budget.

Then, in February 2015, Obama sacked Hagel.

During his 2008 election campaign, Obama had, rightly, advocated to stop the Iraq war; and, wrongly, to escalate the Afghan war.

Obama did wind down the United States occupation of Iraq; far too slowly. And then, the Iraq war re-started and United States soldiers returned, after the rise of ISIS (a product of George W Bush’s 2003 invasion). United States and other NATO bombs still kill many Iraqi civilians.

Unfortunately, Obama did keep his election promise of escalating the Afghan war. Then came some de-escalation. De-escalation which stopped again; as United States and other NATO bombs still kill many Afghan civilians.

Meanwhile, the assassinations without trial by drones, mostly of civilians, became even worse than under the Bush administration: in Afghanistan; in Pakistan; in Yemen; in Somalia; etc.

In September 2009, the Obama administration scrapped George W Bush’s plans for missiles in eastern Europe; thus de-escalating tensions between nuclear armed NATO countries and nuclear armed Russia.

Unfortunately, this positive development did not last. Samantha Power, preaching military escalation under ‘humanitarian’ pretexts, became a high level United States administration official.

So did Victoria Nuland, ex-adviser of George W Bush’s warmongering Vice President Dick Cheney. She became Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. She became mostly (in-)famous for saying ‘Fuck the European Union’, as she thought the European Union was too hesitant in supporting neonazi violence in a coup against the elected government of Ukraine. A coup which led to a cycle of bloodshed and more and more refugees; like other ‘humanitarian’ wars advocated by neo-conservatives and ‘liberal hawks‘.

And, while President Obama publicly opposed the military coup against the elected president of Honduras, Obama’s 2008 election rival, meanwhile his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton sabotaged that view behind his back.

One of Obama’s 2008 election promises was to close down George W Bush’s torture camp in Guantanamo Bay on Cuba. Unfortunately, today it is still open.

How about environmental issues? Obama created the first US Atlantic marine monument. He recommended to stop drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Obama administration made Arctic drilling harder — but not impossible. The BP fat cats, the polluters of the Gulf of Mexico, got just a slap on the wrist for their crimes.

This video from the USA says about itself:

20 April 2011

A year after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico Cenk Uygur shares bad news on regulations, energy policy and the actions of the president.

There were vile racist attacks on Obama. A Christian Right preacher preached he should be murdered. Violent neonazis plotted to put that preacher’s theory into practice.

How about civil rights during the Obama presidency? Police keep killing unarmed people. Disproportionally many of them are African Americans and Native Americans. Obama’s Justice Department reported institutional racism in the police department in Ferguson, Missouri. Yet, they did not dare to interfere with the killer of Michael Brown in Ferguson and similar police officers with blood on their hands going scot-free.

To end on a positive note, there were some better developments for the rights of women and LGBTQ people during the Obama presidency.

One of Obama’s first measures after his inauguration was abolishing George W Bush’s misogynist ‘global gag rule’. During the Obama administration the homophobic DADT rule in the military was abolished. And the United State Supreme Court proclaimed equal marriage rights for LGBTQ people.

Anti-Obama plot by warmongering NATO general


This video says about itself:

1 July 2016

Hacked private emails of the US general formerly in charge of NATO reveal a campaign to pressure the White House into escalating the conflict with Russia over Ukraine, involving several influential players in Washington.

The emails, posted by the site DCLeaks, show correspondence between General Philip M. Breedlove, former head of the US European Command and supreme commander of NATO forces, with several establishment insiders concerning the situation in Ukraine following the February 2014 coup that ousted the elected government in favor of a US-backed regime.

Breedlove served as the NATO Supreme Commander between May 2013 and March 2016. His personal email incorporated his Air Force call sign “Bwana” – a Swahili word for “boss.”

The hacked emails reveal his frequent and intense communications with retired General Wesley Clark, as well as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and involving a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, State Department official Victoria Nuland, and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.

Clark, who commanded NATO during the 1999 war in Yugoslavia, reached out to Breedlove in April 2014. On April 8, he forwarded “intelligence” obtained by Anatoly Pinchuk and Dmitry Tymchuk, activists close to the new regime, claiming a Russian invasion was in the works.

By Lee Fang and Zaid Jilami of The Intercept:

Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy

July 1 2016, 4:41 p.m.

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, until recently the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, plotted in private to overcome President Barack Obama’s reluctance to escalate military tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine in 2014, according to apparently hacked emails from Breedlove’s Gmail account that were posted on a new website called DC Leaks.

Obama defied political pressure from hawks in Congress and the military to provide lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government, fearing that doing so would increase the bloodshed and provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with the justification for deeper incursions into the country.

Breedlove, during briefings to Congress, notably contradicted the Obama administration regarding the situation in Ukraine, leading to news stories about conflict between the general and Obama.

But the leaked emails provide an even more dramatic picture of the intense back-channel lobbying for the Obama administration to begin a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine.

In a series of messages in 2014, Breedlove sought meetings with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, asking for advice on how to pressure the Obama administration to take a more aggressive posture toward Russia.

“I may be wrong, … but I do not see this WH really ‘engaged’ by working with Europe/NATO. Frankly I think we are a ‘worry,’ … ie a threat to get the nation drug into a conflict,” Breedlove wrote in an email to Powell, who responded by accepting an invitation to meet and discuss the dilemma. “I seek your counsel on two fronts,” Breedlove continued, “how to frame this opportunity in a time where all eyes are on ISIL all the time, … and two, … how to work this personally with the POTUS.”

Breedlove attempted to influence the administration through several channels, emailing academics and retired military officials, including former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark, for assistance in building his case for supplying military assistance to Ukrainian forces battling Russian-backed separatists.

“I think POTUS sees us as a threat that must be minimized, … ie do not get me into a war????” Breedlove wrote in an email to Harlan Ullman, senior adviser to the Atlantic Council, describing his ongoing attempt to get Powell to help him influence Obama.

“Given Obama’s instruction to you not to start a war, this may be a tough sell,” Ullman replied a few months later, in another string of emails about Breedlove’s effort to “leverage, cajole, convince or coerce the U.S. to react” to Russia.

Breedlove did not respond to a request for comment. He stepped down from his NATO leadership position in May and retired from service on Friday, July 1. Breedlove was a four-star Air Force general and served as the 17th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe starting on May 10, 2013.

Phillip Karber, an academic who corresponded regularly with Breedlove — providing him with advice and intelligence on the Ukrainian crisis —  verified the authenticity of several of the emails in the leaked cache. He also told The Intercept that Breedlove confirmed to him that the general’s Gmail account was hacked and that the incident had been reported to the government.

“The last conversation I had about it with General Breedlove, he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been hacked several times,’” said Karber. He added that he noticed at least one of his personal emails appearing online from the leak before we had contacted him. “I turned this over to the U.S. government and asked them to investigate. No one has given me any answer.”

“I have no idea whose account was leaked or hacked,” said Powell, when reached for comment about the emails. Powell said he had no comment about the discussions regarding Obama’s response to the conflict in Ukraine.

In the European press, Breedlove has been portrayed as a hawkish figure known for leaning on allied nations to ditch diplomacy and to adopt a more confrontational role again Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. Breedlove, testifying before Congress earlier in February of this year, called Russia “a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies.”

Der Spiegel reported that Breedlove “stunned” German leaders with a surprise announcement in 2015 claiming that pro-Russian separatists had “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine with “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of the most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” sent to Donbass, a center of the conflict.

Breedlove’s numbers were “significantly higher” than the figures known to NATO intelligence agencies and seemed exaggerated to German officials. The announcement appeared to be a provocation designed to disrupt mediation efforts led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In previous instances, German officials believed Breedlove overestimated Russian forces along the border with Ukraine by as many as 20,000 troops and found that the general had falsely claimed that several Russian military assets near the Ukrainian border were part of a special build-up in preparation for a large-scale invasion of the country. In fact, much of the Russian military equipment identified by Breedlove, the Germans said, had been stored there well before the revolution in Ukraine.

The emails, however, depict a desperate search by Breedlove to build his case for escalating the conflict, contacting colleagues and friends for intelligence to illustrate the Russian threat. Karber, who visited Ukrainian politicians and officials in Kiev on several occasions, sent frequent messages to Breedlove — “per your request,” he noted — regarding information he had received about separatist military forces and Russian troop movements. In several updates, Breedlove received military data sourced from Twitter and social media.

Karber, the president of the Potomac Foundation, became the center of a related scandal last year when it was discovered that he had facilitated a meeting during which images of purported Russian forces in Ukraine were distributed to the office of Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and were published by a neoconservative blog. The pictures turned out to be a deception; one supposed picture of Russian tanks in Ukraine was, in fact, an old photograph of Russian tanks in Ossetia during the war with Georgia.

Breedlove stayed in close contact with Karber and other officials who shared his views on the Ukrainian conflict.

“Phil, can’t we get a statement to counteract the Russians on use of force? what can I do to help? If the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative, the Russians will see it as an open door,” wrote retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who forwarded on his messages with Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. …

In other messages, Clark relayed specific requests for the types of military aid desired by Ukrainian officials. In addition to radar systems and other forms of military equipment, Clark recommended that Breedlove “encourage Ukraine to hire some first rate pr firms and crisis communications firms in U.S. and Europe.” He added, “They need the right tools to engage in information warfare.”

Ukraine did hire several D.C. lobbying and communication firms to influence policymakers. In June 2015, the government signed a deal with APCO Worldwide, an influential firm with ties to senior Democratic and Republican officials.

In an email in February 2015, Karber told Breedlove that “Pakistan has, under the table, offered Ukraine 500 TOW-II launchers (man-portable version) and 8,000 TOW-II missiles,” adding that deliveries of the anti-tank weapons could begin by the end of the month. “However,” Karber wrote, “Pakistan will not make these deliveries without U.S. approval; moreover they will not even request that approval unless they have informal assurance that it would be approved.”

Karber told The Intercept that the Pakistani arms deal never materialized.

Breedlove was most recently in the news explaining that he now thinks we need to talk to the Russian government to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. “I think we need to begin to have meaningful dialogue,” he said last week, while reiterating his views on the need for a strong NATO to militarily match Russia. “Russia does understand power, and strength, and unity,” he said.

The emails were released by D.C. Leaks, a database run by self-described “hacktivists” who are collecting the communications of elite stakeholders such as political parties, major politicians, political campaigns, and the military. The website currently has documents revealing some internal communications of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, among others.

Obama blames Britain’s Cameron for disastrous Libyan war


This video from England says about itself:

Libya: Stop the War Coaliton protest at Downing Street 19.04.2011

As Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama escalated the attack on Libya to a regime-change war, Stop the War Coalition joined with CND and War on Want to protest at Downing Street, London, calling on the British government to end its bombing campaign. Video by Anupam Pradhan and Keith Halstead.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

United States: Obama slams Cameron’s Libyan fiasco

Friday 11th March 2016

BARACK OBAMA took a rare swipe at David Cameron yesterday, blaming the Prime Minister for turning Libya into a “shit show”.

The US president placed the blame for the fallout of 2011’s bombardment of Libya, during its civil war, squarely at Mr Cameron’s doorstep.

A rattled Mr Obama even went as far as to admit the military action, which led to Colonel Muammar Gadaffi’s downfall, “didn’t work.”

He accused Mr Cameron of becoming “distracted” after giving the green light to air strikes and that now the country is a “mess” because it’s become an Isis haven.

Mr Obama said [this] in the candid interview for US magazine The Atlantic, in which he argues he placed too much faith in Britain’s PM and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr Cameron’s spokeswoman says the PM does “share” Mr Obama’s assessment that there are real challenges in Libya.

Barack Obama says David Cameron allowed Libya to become a ‘s*** show’. Unprecedented attack by serving US President: here.

Blaming Cameron and Sarkozy for the bloodbath in Libya is correct. However, President Obama might have extended the criticism to the ‘hawks’ in his own State Department (paradoxically, in this case not the Pentagon), like Samantha Power and Hillary Clinton.

US President Barack Obama has said the biggest mistake of his presidency was the lack of planning for the aftermath of the fall of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, with the country spiraling into chaos and grappling with violent extremists: here.

Die Zeit campaigns for military intervention in Libya: here.

The US and NATO are considering another round of military attacks against Libya, US President Barack Obama told media outside the White House on Monday: here.

Teams of United States Special Operations commandos have been active in Libya since last year, the Washington Post reported Thursday, citing statements from unnamed US military officers: here.

PROSTITUTES AND FINANCIAL INCOMPETENCE Inside the allegations in the trial between Libya’s sovereign-wealth fund and Goldman Sachs. [WSJ]

‘Obama, close Guantanamo, as you promised six years ago’


This video is called Torture -The Guantanamo Guidebook. UK’s Channel 4 “Guantanamo Guidebook” documentary.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Obama Must Honour Gitmo Pledge’

Friday 23rd January 2015

HUMAN rights campaigners demanded yesterday that US President Barack Obama live up to his promise to close Guantanamo Bay, six years after he vowed to do so.

An executive order from the White House, signed by the President on January 22 2009, set out plans to close Guantanamo within a year.

But a total of 122 men are still held at the US prison camp without charge or trial today.

Fifty-four of those still detained have been cleared for release, a process involving unanimous agreement by six US federal agencies that a detainee poses no threat to the US.

Among the cleared men is British resident Shaker Aamer, from London, who has been held at the prison without charge or trial for nearly 14 years, despite having been cleared for release by both the Obama and Bush administrations.

Lawyers for Mr Aamer, who has a British wife and four children, the youngest of whom he has never seen, say that he has suffered appalling abuse.

Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Aamer’s lawyer and the director of legal charity Reprieve, said: “Obama must make good on his promise, and close the prison once and for all.”

President Obama and the Republican Congress Are on a Collision Course over Guantanamo: here.

OBAMA REGRETS NOT CLOSING GITMO ON DAY ONE President Obama said if given the chance to do his presidency over, he’d close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay on his first day in office. [Jennifer Bendery, HuffPost]

The US must return the territory it holds at Guantanamo Bay, Cuban President Raul Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States on Wednesday. He also said that Washington must lift the half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two nations re-establish normal relations: here.

Kill all gays, ‘reverend’ United States preacher preaches


This video from the USA says about itself:

Baptist Pastor Prays For President Obama To Die & Go To Hell! “Our Country Is Ran By Faggots

27 August 2009

“Pastor Steve Anderson from the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona wants Barack Obama dead—-reveals it during several sermons. Says that he is “Only preaching the Bible.” I don’t know what bible he is reading, but the bible I read never said that God wants homosexuals dead.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

US pastor Steven Anderson says gay people should be executed for an ‘Aids free Christmas’

The Arizona pastor said the ‘cure’ for Aids was contained in Leviticus

Antonia Molloy

Thursday 04 December 2014

A US Christian pastor has claimed that the world could be “Aids free by Christmas” if all gay people were executed.

In a sermon titled “Aids: The Judgement of God”, Steven Anderson told the congregation of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, that the Bible advocates genocide of LGBT people.

“Anybody who’s a homo or bi – it’s all the same category – sodomite is what the Bible would call them,” he said.

Speaking ahead of World Aids Day, which took place on 1 December, Anderson said the world had been “brainwashed” about the disease, which he claimed was in fact “the judgement of God”.

In a sermon during which he ranted and stomped his feet, he said he had discovered the “cure” for Aids in the book of Leviticus.

He said: “We can have an Aids free world by Christmas. Okay, it wouldn’t be totally Aids free, but we’d be like 90-some per cent Aids free by Christmas if we follow this.”

Telling his audience to turn to Leviticus 20:13, Anderson read aloud: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, even both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”

He then said: “And that, my friend, is the cure for Aids. It was right there in the Bible all along – and they’re out spending billions of dollars in research and testing. It’s curable – right there. Because if you executed the homos like God recommends, you wouldn’t have all this AIDS running rampant.”

As the audience laughed, Anderson went on to quote “statistics” that he claimed proved that contracting HIV was directly related to being “homo”.

In the sermon he also stated that “no queers [are] allowed in this church” and boasted that there was no law against his rule. Anderson claimed that all gay people are paedophiles who would pose a threat to children in the congregation.

And he also suggested that openly condemning homosexuality was part of loving God and practising the Christian faith.

Anderson has gained a reputation as a fundamentalist and hate-preacher. He caused particular controversy in 2009 when he professed his hate for US President Barack Obama and prayed for him to die and go to hell.

He has also claimed that women who take the contraceptive pill are “whores” whose blood has turned green.

For someone who claims to know the Bible inside out, Anderson obviously didn’t read the part about loving one another…

Nelson Mandela, Obama and dictators


This video says about itself:

SABC TV Live Stream Coverage: Nelson Mandela‘s funeral in Qunu

15 Dec 2013

The funeral service of South Africa’s first democratically-elected president, Nelson Mandela.

From Human Rights First in the USA:

Top 5 Hypocrites at Mandela’s Funeral

12-16-2013

By Diana Sayed

At Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday, President Obama delivered a speech in which he said “Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals” that “[t]here are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation… who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people.”

But some of those countries who sent representatives are top United States allies that persecute those who dissent:

1. Bahrain –Ambassador to the UAE Mohammed bin Hamad Al Ma’awda

Ever since Bahrain’s democratic uprising began in February 2011, the regime has brutally cracked down on activists. Many prominent human rights defenders have been targeted and imprisoned, including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former president and co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), currently serving a life sentence after being arrested in April 2011. Nabeel Rajab, current president of the BCHR, is serving the remainder of his 2-year sentence for Tweeting about the government’s prime minister and for participating in illegal gatherings. Zainab Al-Khawaja was arrested for sitting on a highway in protest of her father’s detention. She was formally charged with disrupting traffic and insulting an officer and remains in prison today.

2. Pakistan – President Mamnoon Hussain

Many journalists that report on matters perceived as offensive or critical of the government are threatened, harassed, and intimidated by a host of actors, including members of Pakistan’s security and intelligence apparatus. One of the most notable cases was that of Umar Cheema, who was abducted in September 2010 by unknown assailants, stripped, beaten, and photographed in humiliating positions.

3. Saudi Arabia – Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz al-Saud

Saudi Arabia has no elections, parliament, or political parties. King Abdullah and his family exercise unchecked power, and the kingdom remains one of the most repressive countries in the world, particularly for its 9 million female citizens, who are prevented from holding many jobs or driving and are considered as chattel under oppressive guardianship laws. Practicing any religion other than Islam is banned. Mohammad al-Qahtani is co-founder of the Saudi Arabian human rights organization Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) and, in 2011, its leader before he was sentenced to ten years in prison on several charges relating to his peaceful activism.

4. Ethiopia – His Excellency Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister

Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe has been Prime Minister of Ethiopia since 2012 following the death of Meles Zenawi. Hailemariam was elected as the Chair of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party. Prior to his rule the 2010 election, in which Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s party won a remarkable 99.6 percent of the vote, he closed down space for political dissent and independent criticism. The crackdown included attacks and arrests of prominent opposition figures, the shutting down of newspapers and assaults on journalists critical of the government. Eskinder Nega, a prominent Ethiopian journalist, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on in July 2012 under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 for publishing an online column critical of the use of the terrorism law to silence dissent and calling for the Ethiopian government to respect freedom of expression and end torture in the country’s prisons.

5. Uganda – His Excellency Yoweri Kagota Museveni, President

Museveni abolished term limits before the 2006 elections after nearly three decades in office and proceeded to launch legal attacks on independent journalists and harass opposition parties. NGOs have also documented numerous cases of unlawful detention and torture by the country’s Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force. Uganda came under international condemnation in 2010 for a proposed law, still pending, that would punish homosexuality with harsh sentences including the death penalty. The country’s most prominent gay rights activist, David Kato, was beaten to death in January 2011 just weeks after a popular tabloid published his photo along with the caption, “Hang Them.”

These regimes and other dictatorships are key allies of the United States. President Obama is right to criticize those who suppress dissent but his words are undermined by his administration’s support for repressive regimes that do just that.

A comment to this blog post by Vanessa Blaylock says:

I certainly won’t defend the atrocities you call out, but why pick on nations from that region and imply that Obama/USA has some sort of moral high ground? What about Chelsea Manning, given a longer prison sentence than even Mandela for telling the truth? What about Edward Snowden living in exile in that freedom loving country Russia because the USA can’t handle the truth? Obama/USA have no monopoly on freedom and no love of truth. Let’s not even start on Senator Lieberman’s extra-legal persecution of the journalists at Wikileaks or the Bush v. Gore forged election.

6 Things Nelson Mandela believed that most people won’t talk about: here.

Peaceful Activists Face Inhumane Conditions in Bahrain’s Overcrowded Central Prison: here.

Uganda: Former national football team coach arrested for allegedly having gay sex with player: here.