When Sen. Barack Obama ran for the presidency in 2008 many wishful-thinking Democratic voters viewed him as a peace candidate because he opposed the Iraq war (but voted yes on the war budgets while in the Senate).
Some others assumed his foreign/military policy would be along the lines of Presidents George H. W. Bush (whom Obama admires) or Bill Clinton. Some who identified as progressives actually thought his foreign/military policy might tilt to the left.
Instead, center rightist that he is, Obama’s foreign/military policy amounted to a virtual continuation of George W. Bush’s Global War on Terrorism under a different name.
He extended Bush’s wars to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere while greatly expanding the war in Afghanistan, hiking the military budget, encouraging the growth of militarism in US society by repeatedly heaping excessive praise on the armed forces, and tightening the military encirclement of China.
Summing up some of his military accomplishments a few months ago, Obama declared: “We’ve succeeded in defending our nation, taking the fight to our enemies, reducing the number of Americans in harm’s way, and we’ve restored America’s global leadership. That makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that’s an achievement that every American — especially those Americans who are proud to wear the uniform of the United States Armed Forces — should take great pride in.”
Obama actually has little to show for his war policy after nearly four years. Most importantly, Afghanistan — the war he supported with enthusiasm — is predictably blowing up in his face. A symbol of the Bush-Obama 11-year Afghan folly is the recent 2,000th death of an American soldier, not at the hands of the Taliban but a US-trained Afghan police officer, our supposed ally. The truth is that public opinion in Afghanistan has always overwhelmingly opposed the invasion, and rightly so.
Obama hopes to avoid the embarrassment of a takeover by the Taliban or another violent Afghan civil war (as happened in the 1990s) after the bulk of US troops pull out at the end of 2014. He’s made a deal with the Kabul government that allows Washington to keep thousands of American troops — Army, CIA agents with their drones, elite Special Operations forces and pilots — until 2024.