President #Obama will be leaving behind a legacy as the only president to spend an entire two-terms in office at #war. The wars weren't of his own making, but instead were started by his predecessor, George W. Bush. Even Bush, arguably a war monger, enjoyed several months of relative peace leading up to the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Among President Obama's campaign promises was the promise to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He delivered on the promises, partially and with mixed results. Iraq is still in a state of war, and Afghanistan is fragile and dependent on the support of U.S. troops. The Obama administration also found itself involved in new conflicts, such as the revolution in Libya and the civil war in Yemen. Military drones, meanwhile, have killed at least 100 civilians across the vast war theater the U.S. now finds itself involved in.
The World Can No Longer Be “Conquered”
If there is one lesson from the continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as conflicts elsewhere, war simply isn't what it used to be. Defeating a rival military and formal government is only half the battle, if that. The U.S. found that out painfully after the swift ouster of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Saddam was gone, his army defeated, and yet peace was never attained. Immediately after the war, former members of the disbanded Iraqi military took up arms. Many of these soldiers, trained in warfare, would go on to support the Islamic State.
Cell phones, easily-made IEDs, the availability of weapons, and the willingness of foreign fighters to join the battle would all fuel the conflict for years to come. Even with the full might of the U.S. military and over 100,000 boots on the ground, Iraq could never be fully stabilized.
Obama Completed Partial Wind-Downs But War Remains
Most U.S. combat troops have been pulled out of Iraq, but following the withdrawal, tensions between the Shia and Sunni population quickly boiled over. The Shia controlled government began to oppress the Sunni population. The Sunnis, in turn, allowed a then rag-tag group of Islamic terrorists, the Islamic State, to invade Iraq from Syria and seize huge swaths of land.
Besides causing countless deaths and allowing a huge portion of Iraq's population to fall under the brutal control of the Islamic State, the invasion also forced the U.S. back into the war in Iraq. American warplanes and special forces on the ground have been engaging Islamic State militants directly.
Obama Still Grapples With Mess in Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, the Afghani government and U.S. military have avoided an all out resurgence of the Taliban, but the threat remains. Thousands of U.S. troops remain on the ground, and Obama now plans to leave at least 8,400 troops in Afghanistan throughout the remainder of his term. War-President-in-Chief even if he never intended to be.
Afghanistan was America's “good war”, the war it was forced into after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Yet it was always a side-theater for George W. Bush, who was more obsessed with Iraq. This helps explain why even after more than a decade of fighting, peace remains elusive.