Tonight President Obama will give the annual State of the Union Address. How would you grade his efforts to create a more peaceful world? One member of my organization, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, told us she'd give him not just an F, but a "WTF" for expanding the war in Afghanistan, even as reports show that violence has reached a record high there. And when it comes to Home Ec, he's given the military an even bigger slice of the pie while the country is starved for dough. The former law professor has hardly made straight A's in upholding international law (Guantanamo still open) and civil liberties (cracking down on peace activists).
At my organization we decided to take the alphabet soup of the Obama Administration's major policy decisions, crunch the numbers, and calculate where President Obama is and isn't making the grade. Check out our report card published just in time for the President's State of the Union address. You can print it out and share it or post it up at school or work.
In Arithmetic, he's failing with a capital "F" for tripling the number of troops in Afghanistan and waffling on cutting the military budget despite the economic crisis and the recommendations of his own deficit commission. Sadly, in Geography, our President continues to bomb, from Pakistan to Yemen. F minus. In History, another F. To improve his grade he should make some time to read and fully absorb Johnson's Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire and Jones' In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan.
In Civics, his grade is not much better and we recommend launching an effort to stop FBI raids on peaceful activists and doing more homework on protecting civil liberties. President Obama receives a much high grade for his Conduct however; his speech in Tucson helped bring our divided country a little closer together at a time of a tragedy. Our President is a great orator for (sometimes false) hope and, although he made an "A" in English again this year, we suggest that he uses his powerful public speaking skills to make real change.
In Health, our President makes a C+ for fighting for health care reform but refusing to cut the military budget to pay for it. In Leadership, we find President Obama talking the talk, but we wonder exactly where he's walking the walk. He gets a C for relying too much on the previous class President's ideas. He has not fundamentally changed Bush's militaristic policies. He hasn't been able to broker equitable peace talks in Middle East. And he continues to enable Israeli settlement expansion with military aid funding
Lastly, in Home Ec, President Obama receives a C. We're sure he's a fine cook, but strongly suggest that he learn to bake a new pie that gives a bigger slice of the budget to the American people and addresses job loss, foreclosures, and economic crisis!
Medea Benjamin is co-founder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange.
Follow CODEPINK on Twitter: www.twitter.com/codepinkalert
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