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Anti-Obama protesters in Athens hurl Molotov cocktails at police, YouTube

Obama’s tour of shame

President Barack Obama is expected to return to Washington, DC, on Sunday after his final presidential trip on the taxpayer's buck, but his last attempt to sell his failed policies, ended in shame.

Published: November 20, 2016, 9:43 am

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    Obama’s final overseas speech to tout the United States’ economic growth under his leadership, according to the White House, was supposed to put a positive spin on globalization.

    Obama’s visit to Greece and Peru highlighted the failures of the lame duck leader instead as he was greeted with multiple protests. Only on his stop-over in Germany, was the president warmly welcomed by kindred spirit, chancellor Merkel.

    The presidential trip was planned when MSM pundits were still looking forward to a certain Hillary Clinton victory.

    On Tuesday, Obama spoke in Athens about Trump’s election: “I do believe, separate and apart from any particular election or movement, that we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an ‘us’ and a ‘them'”.

    But Greeks took to the streets in their thousands to express their boiling frustration in multiple Greek cities on Tuesday. Protesters told Greek media that the United States was responsible not only for the drastic austerity measures imposed on them, but also for the massive wave of refugees swarming Greece.

    Greek immigration services are overwhelmed because most of the migrants file asylum requests in a bid to delay or block their return to Turkey, producing an “excessive concentration” in the Aegean islands, a Greek minister told the ERT1 public TV channel.

    The presence of nearly 16 000 migrants on Greek islands has prompted repeated spikes in tension, says migration minister Yannis Mouzalas because Visegrad countries — Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — fiercely oppose Merkel’s migration scheme for the EU.

    According to German Magazine – Spiegel – a confidential document of the European Council reveals that EU member states refuse to send specialized staff to help Greece handle the numerous refugees hosted in the country.

    The document describes the situation in the hotspots of Greece as unstable and could “create problems to the national staff, the EU services and the NGOs.”

    The Spiegel report admitted that even though the EU wants migrants whose asylum applications are rejected to be returned to Turkey the procedures are being stalled as a result over the overwhelming number of people.

    According to Reuters more than 7 000 protesters marched on the streets of Athens and were met by Greek riot police as they tried to march to the American embassy. Thousands of  demonstrators gathered in central Athens, while in Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, demonstrators also flooded the streets.

    Some 5 000 police officers had to be deployed in the Greek capital to maintain order.

    Greece has been suffering from an economic crisis since 2009, and subsequent budget cuts have left nearly a third of the population in poverty and 1 in 4 out of work, a situation which they maintain was caused by American bankers.

    There are more than 62 000 migrants and refugees currently trapped in Greece, according to the latest tally with daily arrivals continuing unabated.

    Obama’s moral grandstanding could do little too to quell protesters in Lima, Peru.

    Police scuffled with over 100 activists who gathered in Lima’s financial quarter to denounce the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal during Obama’s visit. The American leader attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC).

    The demonstrators waved banners denouncing the TPP, with placards reading “TPP kills” as they marched towards the Lima Convention Center, the official site of the 24th APEC summit, but were blocked by a large presence of riot police.

    They chanted slogans against the visit of US President Obama. According to RT, some 200 officers and a helicopter were mobilized to ensure the protestors did not break through several lines of police cordons deployed for Obama’s visit.

    Peru’s police on Sunday even detained a local resident who attempted to hand over a gift – a sweater made by her small company – to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a local radio station RPP reported.

    Obama also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the summit in Peru.

    In February, after the controversial deal on a proposed multinational free trade zone was signed by 12 countries of the Trans-Pacific region, including Peru, violence erupted at large-scale anti-TPP protests in Lima as protestors clashed with police. Dozens of arrests were made.

    It was supposed to be Obama’s grand valedictory tour, but his last major trip abroad to rally world leaders against his successor has forced him to confront global concerns about open borders and immigration instead.

    While Obama has tried to salvage his legacy during his the week-long escape, that included his leisurely photo session at the Parthenon while the streets were in turmoil, his policy agenda remains in tatters.

    He has openly tried to whip up resentment against Donald Trump during his tour, by aiming to convince America’s allies that the United States will “tear up international agreements” in order to hastily push through the trade deal before he leaves office.

    But Asian leaders who negotiated the unpopular free trade deal with the US understand that Congress will not approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership any time soon. While Obama had planned to meet with TPP country leaders Peru, the White House acknowledged the deal is all but dead because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has ruled out a vote on it before Trump takes office.

    Trump is vehemently opposed to TPP and similar deals. His “America first” motto has resonated deeply with nationalists and skeptics of globalization. Trump has even dubbed himself “Mr Brexit” after the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

    karin@praag.org

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