Bill Fletcher Jr.ColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

The Two Minds of Obama

Bill Fletcher

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
NNPA Columnist

President Obama was right on the money in announcing his executive order on immigration. Contrary to the assertion of Republican demagogues, this is not a blanket amnesty, but does release more than 4 million non-criminals from the ever-present threat of deportation. As Obama noted, if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had brought the Senate’s immigration bill to the floor of the House of Representatives, executive action would not be necessary.

It is significant that President Obama told Speaker Boehner that he would hold off signing an executive order if the speaker promised to bring the legislation to the floor, but Boehner refused to make such a promise. That settles the matter as far as any thinking person should be concerned. Clearly, this was another example of the Republicans doing all that they can to embarrass and undermine the president for no other reason than that the president exists.

President Obama also got it right in continuing negotiations with the government of Iran over the nuclear issue. The multi-national discussion underway is a reasonable and necessary measure to pull various countries back from the brink of war. Iran insists that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has the right to develop peaceful usages of nuclear power.  Irrespective of whether you happen to like the idea of nuclear power, they have that right.

Israel, which is not a signatory and has more than 100 hundred nuclear warheads (though will not acknowledge it), has been pressing for military action against Iran as a means of stopping them from getting close to developing nuclear power. Such a step would be the equivalent of throwing gasoline on an already intense fire in the region.  It would be callous and irresponsible.  President Obama, despite the prodding on the part of many Republicans and Democrats, has continued negotiations and this should be supported.  To a great extent this is about trust building between nations.

Before you get too excited, here is where Obama got it wrong, and I mean really wrong.  In addition to an unfocused military campaign against ISIL/ISIS and a refusal to insist that the Iraqi Shiite-dominated regime clean up its act and embrace the Sunni minority, it was revealed that Obama is permitting continued U.S. military action in Afghanistan, despite a pledge to the contrary. There is no end in sight to the war in Afghanistan.  It should be more than clear that the regime in Kabul is quite corrupt and not serving as a force to unify the country. Therefore, the question is what is to be gained by continued U.S. involvement?  Why one more year?  Should it not be obvious that a dramatically different approach needs to be undertaken in order to bring about a resolution to the conflict?

When it comes to the Middle East and Central Asia, President Obama seems to be of two minds. On the one hand, he recognizes that war with Iran would be disastrous. He also remembers that he was elected to get the U.S. out of Iraq, and, for that matter Afghanistan. Yet he has been either unable or unwilling to articulate a foreign policy theory or narrative that ties the different pieces together.  As a result, he slowly but surely submits to the pressure of the war hawks who seem to care little that the U.S. remains the greatest purveyor of violence on this planet.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English.  He is a racial justice, labor and global justice activist and writer.  Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at


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Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher Jr has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staffperson in the national AFL-CIO. Fletcher is the former president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941”; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of “Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice“; and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions.” Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.

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