Saturday, January 14, 2017

President Obama Led the U.S. in Endless Wars, After Being the Most Antiwar Senator in 2007

O's biggest pitch back in 2007 was that he never voted for the Iraq war. (Of course, he wouldn't have, since he wasn't in Congress at the time, but still.)

I wrote about it back in 2012, "As the Nation Remembers This Memorial Day, Don't Forget That Barack Obama Was Most Antiwar Candidate for President Since George McGovern."

Except for folks on the very far left (think wackos like Code Pink and International ANSWER), progressive-leftists gave him a pass.

Today, Obama leaves office amid an unprecedented expansion of America's wars, which now rage across the Central Asia and Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and Central and North Africa.


At LAT, "President Obama, who hoped to sow peace, instead led the nation in war":
Before he took office in 2008, Barack Obama vowed to end America’s grueling conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his second term, he pledged to take the country off what he called a permanent war footing.

“Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue,” he said in May 2013. “But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. It’s what our democracy demands.”

But Obama leaves a very different legacy as he prepares to hand his commander-in-chief responsibilities to Donald Trump.

U.S. military forces have been at war for all eight years of Obama’s tenure, the first two-term president with that distinction. He launched airstrikes or military raids in at least seven countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Yet the U.S. faces more threats in more places than at any time since the Cold War, according to U.S. intelligence. For the first time in decades, there is at least the potential of an armed clash with America’s largest adversaries, Russia and China.

Obama slashed the number of U.S. troops in war zones from 150,000 to 14,000, and stopped the flow of American soldiers coming home in body bags. He also used diplomacy, not war, to defuse a tense nuclear standoff with Iran.

But he vastly expanded the role of elite commando units and the use of new technology, including armed drones and cyber weapons.

“The whole concept of war has changed under Obama,” said Jon Alterman, Middle East specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonprofit think tank in Washington.

Obama “got the country out of ‘war,’ at least as we used to see it,” Alterman said. “We’re now wrapped up in all these different conflicts, at a low level and with no end in sight.”

The administration built secret drone bases and other facilities in Africa and the Middle East, and added troops and warships in the western Pacific. It also moved troops and equipment to eastern Europe to counter a resurgent Russia.

Along the way, Obama sometimes quarreled with his top military advisors. After they left the Pentagon, Obama’s first three secretaries of Defense — Robert M. Gates, Leon E. Panetta and Chuck Hagel — accused the Obama White House of micromanaging the military.

Obama’s political rise famously began with a speech he gave in Chicago in October 2002, when he announced he was “opposed to dumb wars,” referring to the planned invasion of Iraq by the George W. Bush administration.

But as president, Obama found himself caught in the fierce cross currents of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings that roiled much of the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, leading to harsh crackdowns across the region. Only one country, Tunisia, ultimately saw a transition to democracy.

He reluctantly approved a NATO air campaign in Libya initially aimed at preventing massacres of civilians by strongman Moammar Kadafi.

Determined to avoid the kind of nation building that pulled the U.S. into Iraq’s civil war, he withdrew after Kadafi was killed — only to see the oil-rich country collapse in conflict and become a magnet for terrorist groups.

The danger was clear after members of the Islamic militant group Ansar al Sharia stormed a U.S. diplomatic compound and nearby CIA base in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, in September 2012, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The messy aftermath in Libya made Obama realize the limitations of military power in achieving U.S. goals, and that shaped the rest of his presidency...
Still more.