Seven years into Barack Obama's presidency, Israeli website Mida decided to check whether the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's isolationist approach has brought about a decrease in global war deaths.
It turned out that the opposite is true.
Mida editor-in-chief Akiva Bigman perused the database of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden, which includes a comprehensive list of wars and conflicts worldwide using data collected since 1989.
The database contains a detailed list of global battle-related death tallies, which includes all those killed as a direct result of military operations, including civilians killed by bombardments, civilians killed in crossfire, and so on. It goes up to 2014, and Bigman filled in 2015 and early 2016 using other sources.
Then came Obama
"From a global perspective," he wrote, "what is especially noteworthy is the drastic change that has occurred since Obama became president. From 2001-2008, there were 159,121 deaths recorded as a direct result of wars, including the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, even using statistics only up to 2014, we notice a jump in Obama's presidency of some 80% in the number of overall deaths: 286,204.
"Moreover, when we add only Syria and Iraq in 2015 – with more than 75,000 killed – there is a jump of 227% compared to (George W.) Bush. When data from 2016 and additional conflict zones becomes available, it is not unlikely that Obama would finish his presidency with numbers similar to those of another appeaser, Bill Clinton, at 400,275 deaths."
The region that has suffered the most under Obama is the Middle East, Mida found. "During the entire decade from 1991 to 2000, which included the First Gulf War, 49,853 deaths were recorded in wars in the region, and in the eight years from 2001 to 2008, during which the United States invaded Iraq a second time, the number of deaths was 28,724.
"Then came Obama, and almost immediately the trend shifted again. Obama abandoned the war on terror and declared his intention to withdraw U.S. troops from the region. The result was that some 148,110 deaths were recorded in the Middle East through the end of 2014. When we add the figures for 2015 and early 2016 from other sources, the number jumps to 243,000 deaths."
"This is a shocking comparison indeed: from Bush to Obama we see an increase of 846% in Middle East direct war deaths," noted Bigman.
In Afghanistan, too, the numbers seem to be telling us something. In the last decade of the twentieth century, 47,931 people were killed in the fighting there. Over the next eight years – during which the United States invaded the country, toppled the Taliban government, and hunted down terrorists and Al Qaeda members – 23,944 were killed. But with the election of Obama, who declared his intention to end the war, the number of victims more than doubled: 50,057 dead, and with the addition of the 2015 figures, 63,057.
Doubling of Islamic terrorist attacks
This is not all. According to The Religion of Peace project, which has collected data on Islamic terror attacks around the world since 2001, during the Bush presidency there were 12,760 terrorist attacks, with 70,970 killed and 108,718 wounded. By contrast, during Obama’s presidency so far, there were 17,645 attacks, 119,996 deaths, and 160,152 wounded worldwide.
"If we assume that the numbers for 2016 will be similar to those for 2015, we can say that during the Obama presidency, there was a doubling of Islamic terrorist attacks worldwide," Bigman observed.
His conclusion was clear: "When the United States is not shy of using force globally, the world becomes a safer and more stable place than when the most liberal superpower in history withdraws, appeases, and 'leads from behind.' In the past seven years, the laws of power in international relations have repeatedly taught their realist lesson: When there is no powerful and determined global policeman, violent and dangerous forces grow stronger."
He concluded with a plea for America to "take up the horse’s reins with the Smith and Wesson. Now, more than ever, the world needs a sheriff."