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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Iraq is not yet lost, but the victory that the United States, our allies and our Iraqi friends achieved at such high cost is now at risk. Who is responsible? The blame lies squarely at the feet of President Obama.
Twelve years after 9/11, the administration does not understand al-Qaeda. Nor does it grasp the nature of war. The al-Qaeda war is a component of a larger contest for power in the Middle East, and by failing to understand terrorist groups in that context and to define enduring interests in the region, the President is trying to turn the war into something it's not: one from which we can withdraw.
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.