The charge levelled at the Obama Administration by the newly elected President Trump? It would have obtained peanuts or nothing at all from the allies in exchange for the “defense” that the US is guaranteeing them. This charge has spurred the New York Times to descend into the fray. On 16 January, it published a report, based on official data, to demonstrate [just] how much the Obama Administration has done “to defend US interests abroad”.

Treaties have been concluded with more than 30 countries that “contribute to bring stability to regions that, economically and politically speaking, are the most important for the United States”. To this end, the United States has permanently deployed more than 210, 000 soldiers overseas, particularly in “active conflict” zones.

In Europe, the US maintains around 80,000 soldiers plus the Sixth Fleet stationed in Italy, to “defend Nato allies” and as a “deterrent against Russia”. In exchange, the US has secured from its Nato allies an undertaking to “defend the United States” and the option to maintain its own military bases near Russia, the Middle East and Africa with the Allies bearing 34% of the cost of this. This permits the USA to have the EU as its biggest trading partner.

In the Middle East, the United States maintains 28,000 soldiers in the Gulf Monarchies and also has its Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain, to “defend the free flow of oil and gas and at the same time its allies against Iran”. In exchange, it has gained access to 34% of global oil exports and 16% of natural gas exports; it has also secured the option of maintaining its military bases against Iran, with 60% of the cost borne by the Gulf Monarchies.

In Eastern Asia, the United States is maintaining more than 28,000 soldiers in South Korea and 45,000 in Japan plus the Seventh Fleet stationed at Yokosuka, to “contain the influence of China and to support the Allies against North Korea”. In exchange, it has secured the option of maintaining US military bases near China and North Korea”, part of the cost of which has been shifted to the Allies: 40% in South Korea and 75% in Japan. This allows the USA to build important trading partnerships with Japan and South Korea.

In South-East Asia, the United States has a fluctuating number of soldiers, in the range of several thousands, to support Thailand and the Philippines as well as Australia in the Pacific. “The military exercises for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea”, through which 30% of the global maritime trade passes, falls under this heading. In exchange, the United States has secured the option of “protecting” maritime trade worth more than 5,000 billion dollars per year. At the same time, it has secured “a region that is friendlier to the United States and more able to unite with it against China”. Left out of this list is the fact that during the Obama Administration, the Pentagon, began to line up against China, alongside the warships, the Aegis system. [This system] is similar to the one already lined up in Europe against Russia and is capable of launching not only anti-missile missiles but also cruise missiles which can be armed with nuclear heads.

Thus Trump’s criticism of Obama is entirely groundless. A fact-checker clearly demonstrates this. Thus in his declaration in his final State of the Union address, Obama states:
“America is the strongest nation on Earth. We spend more than on the military than what the other eight nations put together spend. Our forces are the finest fighting force in the history of the world”.

This is the legacy left by the “good” president. What will his “evil” replacement do now?

Anoosha Boralessa
Il Manifesto (Italy)