Mark LeVine writes: Barack Obama’s re-election offers progressives a short window of opportunity to lay out a vision for his second term which, if deftly presented, could win broader public support, especially among the millions of young, women, and Latino voters who were crucial to his victory. Here are five issues that progressives, both in the United States and abroad, should push the President to address at the start of his second term in order to meet the so-far unfulfilled hopes for a transformative change in foreign and domestic policies that accompanied his historic political ascendance.
All five have the advantage of being issues which have the increasing attention and even support of important members of the Republican establishment in the US as well political leaders abroad and global civil society, increasing the possibility of their impacting administration policies if enough pressure can be deployed from a variety of angles in support of them.
1. Stop the drones. Drones have become Obama’s water boarding, only worse, and are the single biggest threat to US standing in the international community today. They have killed at least 176 children in Pakistan alone – that’s right, President Obama has killed sixteen times the number of children that Osama bin Laden killed on 9/11, including at least one American citizen. This number is a greater stain on the United States than the use of torture, secret renditions or Guantanamo. And the children represent only a small share of the many hundreds of civilians – perhaps as many as a thousand – who’ve been killed by US drones.
The President has directly supervised the programme, lauding its “surgical precision” even though a comprehensive report has revealed the number of high value al-Qaeda targets killed (the original purpose and still the primary justification for the programme) to be as low as two percent of the total killed. Moreover, the attacks have included patently illegal “double strikes” which have killed first responders who arrived to tend to the wounded only to themselves be blown to bits from the sky.
Even conservatives are worried about the legal and diplomatic ramifications of the drone programme, offering a unique opportunity to create a political and policy-making consensus drastically to curtail and perhaps even end their use. [Continue reading…]