A fair review of President Obama’s legacy

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/11 21:03:39

US President Barack Obama delivered his farewell speech on Tuesday evening local time, giving the most comprehensive as well as the highest rated report of his achievements as president in the past eight years.

Most of these accomplishments were filled with controversies, except for one thing - US economic performance was better than other major Western nations, which can be supported by statistics. The country's GDP per capita increased, the unemployment rate dropped, and its stock market witnessed the longest bull run in history.

However, the gap in income distribution is growing larger, its citizens are feeling little sense of accomplishment.

Meanwhile, discussions are increasing among the middle class, who feel they are slipping into poverty. The fact that people generally do not have a sense of well-being provided US President-elect Donald Trump with an opportunity to win the election.

The things Obama views as his biggest political legacies, including Obamacare, will likely be abolished by Trump. In the end, Obama might leave nothing and every trace of him in the White House might be wiped clean. But we can still find some merits in him. He has devoted himself to domestic reforms such as the Affordable Care Act and gun control, but he also faces a number of constraints. At least he tried.

In terms of diplomacy, he was not as bold as George W. Bush and was relatively cautious in military actions. It was quite exaggerated and unexpected when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to him in 2009. Nevertheless, he was indeed the most peaceful US president compared with several of his immediate predecessors. During his term, Obama did not initiate or lead his country into new wars. The US participated in military strikes against the Gaddafi regime in Libya, but Washington did not take a leading role. In terms of the Syrian issue, the White House's intervention has made the Syrian civil war last for five years, which led to the emergence of the Islamic State and the refugee crisis. Washington's control over the Middle East weakened.

Obama's rebalance to the Asia-Pacific strategy is generally viewed as unsuccessful, the South China Sea issue aggravated strategic suspicions between Beijing and Washington, and eventually, US influence in the South China Sea has declined.

But he was not radical in the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific strategy, which prevented Sino-US relations from encountering the worst-case scenario because of the South China Sea issue. His presidency witnessed the most frequent meetings between leaders from China and the US. Construction of mechanisms for bilateral exchanges has been improved. Ties between the two major powers have become more complicated, yet more mature at the same time. It can be argued that Beijing-Washington relations have further developed.

In general, Obama is a nice person, calm and not too extreme. He failed to show his special leadership, but neither did he make huge trouble. After Obama, a person who wants to be different in every category with others and is obsessed with seeking the limelight will enter the White House. He and Obama can become each other's mirror to evaluate one another.

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