Barack H. Obama campaigned for the presidency vowing to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His election in 2008 prompted the Nobel Committee to award him the Peace Prize the following year with the hope of a peaceful future in those two countries. The new president accepted the prize while acknowledging the unusual context in which the committee awarded it.
I never thought I’d say this, but I have to wonder if President Obama has ever considered giving the award back.
Why? Well, consider that that he vowed to end both wars. They haven’t ended. Now he’s about to commit a handful of U.S. troops into a third country to engage in the battle against the Islamic State.
The president recently announced that he would keep troops fighting in Afghanistan past the time he leaves office in January 2017; our commitment in Iraq remains, despite the pullout of frontline combat troops. Now this, the deployment of Special Forces to assist the Kurds fighting ISIS in northern Syria.
He took office while the country was fighting in two countries. He likely will leave office with the nation fighting in three countries.
This is not the legacy that Barack Obama ever wanted, but it’s part of the legacy he will leave the next president of the United States.
I get that circumstances have changed since he took office as the so-called “transformational” president. The Islamic State has exploded onto the scene. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has brutalized and murdered hundreds of thousands of his people. The Iraqi military has fallen far short of its mission to defend the country against Islamic State murderers. The Taliban has fought back in Afghanistan.
Yes, we killed Osama bin Laden. We’ve continued to hunt down and kill terrorists all across the Middle East and South Asia. And we’ve known all along that the Global War on Terror would not end in the conventional way, with one side signing a peace treaty to end the hostilities. We are fighting an elusive and cunning enemy.
However, all that hope that Barack Obama brought to the presidency has dissipated as he heads for the final turn of his two terms in office.
I’m not going to say President Obama should give back the Nobel Peace Prize, although I wouldn’t complain out loud if he did.