A teary-eyed Barack Obama addressed the American people yesterday to announce that he was using his executive order to introduce stricter background checks for potential gun owners, without the approval of Congress. Twitter and the media reacted in praise for the President, who is taking timely action given the recent armed militancy in Oregon, as well as a persistent spate of gun crime throughout his presidency, including the tragic massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012.
Undeniably American gun sales are out of control. Obama's movement is a small step towards making life safer for Americans. However his statements and his tears must be viewed with cynicism if we consider his foreign policy agenda since coming to power in 2008. Although Obama somehow managed to win the Nobel Peace Prize back in 2009, he is no benevolent advocate of world peace.
Barack Obama might be clamping down on arms sales at home but he is certainly not doing much about arms sales abroad. In fact the Obama administration has been embarrassingly caught selling arms to Mexico in operation "Fast and Furious" in which tens of thousands of arms were sold to people with links to Mexican drug cartels.
This, an action clearly running counter to Obama's anti-gun tears, is barely the tip of the iceberg. Like the UK, the US is a major exporter of arms. In fact, from 2010 to 2014 the US was the world's top exporter of arms with a 31 per cent share of global arms exports.
Obama's administration, like those before it, has been selling guns to some of the world's most despotic and corrupt regimes. Despite Saudi Arabia coming under fire for executing 47 people last week, Obama's administration approved the sale of $1.29 billion in bombs to Saudi Arabia back in November. Of course, the prospect of ending these arms deal is not even considered. Nor is the fact that whilst the US are fixated on combating Isis, it has been reported by the New York Times (among others) that many of the arms utilised by Isis are flowing in from the US, via the arming of rebel forces.
Obama is not so quick to shed a tear for all the children who have died at the hands of America's troops, or even at the hands of American-made weapons, when they are not on his own soil.
This is not to mention that while Obama has been seen by some as a peaceful leader, he has escalated America's drone wars, with 90 per cent of those killed by drone strikes "not the intended targets", including many civilians. Going even further to maximise casualties, the controversial "double tap" has become commonplace during his Presidency according to activist groups, meaning that those attempting to tend to victims of drone strikes have then themselves been killed by a second round of bombing.
Obama is a hypocrite. His tears cannot be taken as anything other than a grand publicity stunt to justify a political agenda at home. These tears are contradicted by his lust for war overseas and his government's insistence of selling arms on a mass scale. And this isn't just the case under Obama; it started before him and it'll continue long after him. America is built on a military industrial complex.
America does have a gun control problem and the 32,000 Americans who lose their lives each year because of gun violence should be mourned. But so should those who lose their lives at the hands of American arms, whether they're used by American troops, or by Mexican cartels, Isis or Saudi despots who benefit from America's arms dealings.
Obama's tears can be deemed as nothing short of disingenuous, representing a gross double standard whereby he mourns deaths at homes but facilitates them abroad. Because Barack Obama is no pacifist; he never has been. He is simply a savvy politician.
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