The 44th president of the united states, Barack Hussein Obama II, is coming to the end of his time in office. From his inauguration on January 20, 2009, the face of America has changed. The economy is almost unrecognisable from the credit-crunch era left by George Bush - 13.7 million new jobs have been created over a 73-month streak of job growth, there has been a reduction in the federal budget deficit by two-thirds and unemployment has fallen from 10% to 5% during Obama’s time in office.
Not only has the economy progressed, but so to has the American legal system which has seen two of the most progressive pieces of legalisation in America history. The first, Obamacare enacted on March 23, 2010. The second, and most revolutionary, the legalisation of same sex marriage in all states of America.
As well as in America, Obama has shone on the international stage. He heavily championed the climate change agenda reaching a historic deal at the Paris COP21 climate talks. Old enemies of America have become, if not allies, less hostile: In August 2015, the U.S. reopened its embassy in Cuba, the first symbolic step to normalizing relations between the two countries and the first time the American flag has flown in Havana in 54 years. Not only mending broken bridges with Cuba, Obama fronted america as one of the six world powers to strike a landmark nuclear deal with Iran. Both of these not to mention Obama’s 2009 nobel peace prize, serves as part of his international legacy.
Despite his ground-breaking achievements at home and abroad there has been a darker side to Obama’s reign, seldom mentioned by the press, which will see aftershocks stretching far past economic growth, progressive policies, and deals with past enemies. If Obama’s international legacy includes the placation of old enemies, it must also contain the creation of new ones. Obama’s administration has been one of drone warfare. Behind the friendly, confident exterior, Obama’s campaign in the White House has been tainted by the use of drones operating outside declared battlefields. In Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, Obama’s administration has overseen deaths of hundreds of civilians. Despite the white house releasing death tallies of “non-combatants” in the tens, the number of civilian casualties recorded by the Bureau of Journalism is six times higher than the US Government’s figure.
Despite his undeniable achievements in office and the equally undeniable darker side of his administration, Barack Obama will in all likelihood go down in history not for his policies nor for his hostilities, but for the colour of his skin.