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Image Credit: Bastiat Institute

If presiding over the greatest transfer of wealth in history from the middle class to the 1 percent wasn’t enough of a trophy for Obama, another dismal achievement will mark his presidency. Obama has been at war longer than any president in U.S. history.

That would include George W. Bush, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and even Abraham Lincoln who oversaw America’s civil war.

“If the United States remains in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria until the end of Mr. Obama’s term — a near-certainty given the president’s recent announcement that he will send 250 additional Special Operations forces to Syria — he will leave behind an improbable legacy as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.”

This eight-year record of death and destruction comes from a man who ran in 2008 as an antiwar candidate and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

Promptly after this sham award, Obama heeded the calls of warmongers such as John McCain and sent 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan in the infamous “surge.” After Bush invaded that country in response to 9/11, seven years of military occupation was not enough for the U.S. military to declare “victory.”

Obama announced in 2014 that he would withdraw the last combat soldier from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, but the withdrawal was halted, and 5,000 troops will remain until at least 2017.

15 years after the Afghanistan war began, the folly of invading countries in response to terrorist acts has become accepted in the U.S., in part thanks to Obama. Dick Cheney and his cohorts at the Project for the New American Century are undoubtedly proud of Barack Obama.

The U.S. is still engaged in the most notorious example of pre-emptive war–the invasion and occupation of Iraq that began in 2003. Despite pledging last year that U.S. troops in Iraq would “be home for the holidays,” 5,000 troops are still there and 475 military advisers are being sent back. The Islamic State has swept into Iraq now that America has deposed its strongman, Saddam Hussein, and created a security vacuum.

The news that a Navy SEAL was killed by the Islamic State in Iraq is a sad example of how U.S. war-making begins a downward spiral, actually creating far more terrorists than it supposedly kills. The brutal Islamic State cites as one of its main motivations the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, not only in Iraq but in six other countries where U.S. warplanes reap death and destruction.

In addition to carrying on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama has initiated campaigns in Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

In these newer theaters, America is refining its use of “targeted drone strikes” to purportedly wage war on terrorists. While not as spectacular as full-scale invasions, drone strikes are still effective at creating more terrorists.

What father or brother would not feel anger after watching their innocent loved ones die by Hellfire missile?

Almost 90 percent of those killed by U.S. drone strikes were not the intended target, but this extremely high rate of collateral damage is no deterrent to the U.S. military machine. Approximately 200 children have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan alone since 2004, and well over 1,000 adult civilians have been killed.

These killings are carried out by an executive branch that no longer pays heed to checks and balances, waging undeclared war at will in whatever country it chooses. This strategy is summed up by Jeremey Scahill of The Intercept as “The Assassination Complex.” It is Obama’s signature in the never-ending U.S. war machine.

“Drones are a tool, not a policy. The policy is assassination. While every president since Gerald Ford has upheld an executive order banning assassinations by U.S. personnel, Congress has avoided legislating the issue or even defining the word “assassination.” This has allowed proponents of the drone wars to rebrand assassinations with more palatable characterizations, such as the term du jour, “targeted killings.”

When the Obama administration has discussed drone strikes publicly, it has offered assurances that such operations are a more precise alternative to boots on the ground and are authorized only when an “imminent” threat is present and there is “near certainty” that the intended target will be eliminated. Those terms, however, appear to have been bluntly redefined to bear almost no resemblance to their commonly understood meanings.”

The world is now a battlefield, and Obama has ushered in an era where anyone can be killed anywhere at any time, using dubious rationalizations to sidestep treaties and laws. 9/11 provided the pretext for a permanent state of war, by declaring war not on a country but the tactic of terrorism.

Obama has dutifully carried this banner, to the delight of the military-industrial complex and those under the illusion of “American exceptionalism.” Those cheering the sorrowful state of U.S. military hegemony will congratulate the 44th president for being the first to be at war during his entire eight-year tenure, and for duping millions into believing that an antiwar politician would actually end war.

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Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.