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Obama Likely to End Up as a War President

Joshua Keating argues that with President Obama likely to keep U.S. military forces in Afghanistan through the end of his presidency, “Obama can no longer portray himself credibly as an ender of wars.”  

“According to the New York Times, the most popular option currently on the table at the White House was one proposed by Gen. Martin Dempsey last year that would keep 3,000 to 5,000 troops in the country on a counterterrorism mission… Keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan into 2017 and likely beyond the end of his presidency would be a strange coda for a president who came into office vowing to wind down the Bush administration’s wars.”  

“Obama appears to be pushing back against that narrative: While speaking to a group of veterans, the president recently argued that if he had listened to the advice of his Republican critics in congress, ‘we’d be in, like, seven wars right now.’… Pressed by Yahoo News to substantiate that claim, a spokesman for the National Security Council listed Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, and Yemen. This would seem to imply that the president does not consider the U.S. to be at war in these places, or even in ‘military actions.’ U.S. troops have recently participated in combat in three of those countries—Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq—not to mention carrying out covert actions or providing logistical assistance in the other four. So Obama’s argument makes sense only if you define combat operations solely as large numbers of ground troops, a definition that doesn’t make much sense given the technologies of 21st-century warfare.”

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