When President Barack Obama came to office in 2009, he vowed to end former president George W. Bush's wars. Described by pundits as a reluctant warrior, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for his efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. He also greatly reduced the number of U.S. troops stationed in war zones (from 150,000 to 14,000). However, Obama also greatly expanded the use of air warfare such as bombs and particularly drone strikes, and was ultimately at war longer than any other president in U.S. history (his entire eight-year presidency).
It is estimated that the U.S. military dropped 26,172 bombs in 2016 alone, predominantly in Syria and Iraq, for a total of three bombs every hour, every hour of every day. Although drone strikes ostensibly offer greater precision than other forms of attacks, the civilian death toll still rose into the thousands.
Countries where the Obama administration is known to have ordered airstrikes:
The U.S. used drones that flew over the country to target militants. It was assumed that all males of military age in these regions were combatants, hence potential targets for military combat. The overly flawed assumption caused the U.S. Army to kill civilians, a problem that led to an uproar.
The Obama administration invaded the country with armed drones after Yemen received threats from al Qaeda. According to the New American Foundation, nearly 100 attacks occurred in Yemen since 2009.
The country has been a warzone for a long time, and Obama took over this responsibility after being sworn in 2009. However, he reduced the number of U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, replacing them with airstrikes.
The air campaign involved the use of unmanned drones and human-crewed aircraft to combat militants. However, the strategy led to a high death toll among civilians, causing President Obama to withdraw many American soldiers from Afghanistan. Only 10,000 soldiers were left to train Afghan forces and maintain security.
The former President also ordered the U.S military to launch airstrikes on Iraq, targeting the notorious ISIS fighters. He claimed that Iraq was a threat to American interests and was within his rights according to the 2001-2003 Congressional authorization. The directive allowed Barrack Obama to:
- Enforce security resolutions regarding Iraq
- Use the U.S. armed forces to defend national security against any threats posed by Iraq
The Obama administration and allied nations agreed to launch airstrikes on Libya in 2011. The directive aimed to protect Libyan civilians and instigate regime change in the country. Although the airstrikes managed to kill Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan leader, the country’s security has since deteriorated.
The U.S. took military action against Syria after the country's then-President, Bashar al-Assad, decided to use chemical weapons on civilians. Barrack was on the brink of ordering airstrikes in 2013 but backed away after Congress became defiant. The following year Barrack unleashed airstrikes on Syria following renewed threats from al Qaeda and ISIS.
The Obama administration released drone attacks on Somalia in a bid to abate terrorist attacks associated with the al Shabaab. In 2014, the U.S. used drones to target and kill the group’s leader, Ahmed Godane.