Love him or hate him, we can’t stop talking about President Barack Obama. As his Presidency nears its end, we take a look at some of his accomplishments.
1. OSAMA BIN LADEN WAS KILLED
Barack Obama had always made it clear that killing Osama bin Laden and crushing the al-Qaeda would be his biggest national security policy. True to his word, President Obama oversaw the mission to locate and kill Osama bin Laden in 2011, a critical victory in America’s fight against terrorism.
2. HEALTHCARE WAS REFORMED
Despite facing criticism from the Republican Party, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (better known as ‘ObamaCare’) in 2010, which extended health insurance to an estimated 32 million Americans who didn’t receive coverage from their employers or by US health programmes for the poor and the elderly.
3. AMERICA TOOK STEPS TO INCLUDE THE LGBT COMMUNITY
President Obama was the first U.S. President to openly support LGBT rights. During his tenure, the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage nationwide and the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy of the U.S. Military, which restricted military personnel from being openly homosexual while in service, was repealed.
4. DICTATORS WERE OVERTHROWN
Fighting on the side of democracy in the Arab Spring, in 2011, President Obama called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to accept reform or step down, thus weakening his dictatorship. He also supported the rebel cause in the Libyan Civil war by providing military support, which eventually led to the end of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorial regime in Libya.
5. THE ECONOMY WAS RESUSCITATED
Obama took office during the peak of the 2008 Wall Street crash, and reviving the economy was no easy feat. However, he managed it by passing legislations like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, that funded the public sector and increased employment, and the Wall Street Reforms that regulated practices that caused the recession. He even turned around loses and facilitated more than 100,000 new jobs in the auto industry.
6. STEPS WERE TAKEN TO CONTROL GUN VIOLENCE
With a huge spike in gun-related violence in the United States, President Obama introduced a group of executive orders to reduce gun violence on 5th January 2016. The orders aim to improve background checks on gun buyers, community safety, mental health treatment and smart gun technology.
7. BROKEN DIPLOMATIC BRIDGES WERE MENDED
In 2015, the US and five other countries, under the leadership of President Obama, reached an agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear activity. He improved relations with Cuba since the Cold War and reestablished the U.S. Embassy in the country after 54 years. He signed the New START Arms Control Treaty with Russia reducing the number of long-range weapons held by both countries. Russia and the U.S. have also joined hands to battle the ISIS after the attack in Paris.
8. MILITARY STRATEGY IN AFGHANISTAN WAS REVISED
When Obama became President, America was neck-deep in a war in the Middle East. Almost as soon as he took office, he ordered all U.S. military forces out of Iraq and tried to downscale the war in Afghanistan. However, continued terrorist activity in the Middle East has prevented the complete withdrawal of troops from the region. He also nullified the “enhanced” interrogation techniques adopted against detainees that were considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions.
While all this sounds great, Obama has received his fair share of flak for not closing down Guantanamo Bay and not being able to control police brutality. As the 2016 US Presidential race gains momentum, some candidates have even vowed to reverse certain decisions made during Obama’s Presidency (particularly those to do with gun control and healthcare) if they are elected. Whatever said and done, President Obama will go down in history as an exemplary leader, and the next President will have to try very hard to meet the high expectations of the American people.