On Dec. 14, 2011, President Obama proudly proclaimed the “end” to the Iraq war, announcing that “there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long." He was blasted by Sen. John McCain, a strong supporter of fighting to victory in Iraq: "I believe that history will judge this president's leadership with the scorn and disdain it deserves.” For nearly a decade, AEI scholars have written on the conduct of the Iraq war, the foundations of the invasion and the prospects for a postwar Iraq.
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Like so many times before, our country is engaged in a robust debate about the future of America’s role in the world.
Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan today are as unlike those who returned from the war in Southeast Asia a generation ago as those soldiers were from the veterans of World War II.
Current trends point to continued expansion of al Qaeda affiliates and their capabilities, and it is difficult to see how current or proposed American and international policies are likely to contain that expansion, let alone reduce it to 2009 levels or below.
Even the president’s most ardent supporters are beginning to wonder whether the Obama retreat from the Middle East has gone too far. The Obama aministration has weakened out position in the region—no better liked, no longer feared, regarded as an increasingly inconstant ally or as an enemy prone to blink.
It would be rash to draw too many conclusions from a fight over Qusayr, Syria, a town of just 30,000 residents, but the specter that looms is nothing less than the near-complete collapse of the U.S. position in the Middle East.