Dan McCarthy of The American Conservative writes:
Jonathan Rauch wants to make the case that Barack Obama’s foreign policy is in the old Republican mold of, say, George H.W. Bush. Yet key points Rauch argues actually place Obama closer to the other Bush. Obama can as much take credit for “ending two wars” — yes, Rauch really says that — as Dubya could claim “mission accomplished.”
“He has closed out the war in Iraq on acceptable terms. He is on course to do the same thing in Afghanistan.” Actually, the terms of closing out the war in Iraq were those set by Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister who refused the terms Obama was offering, which would have kept a larger U.S. presence in the country longer. Maliki ended the war in the face of Obama’s desire to continue it. As for Afghanistan, what can anyone think is going to be achieved by 2014 that hasn’t been achieved in the last 11 years? Is 13 the magic number for how many years it takes to establish democracy and human rights in the Hindu Kush?
Here too the parallels to Bush II are most striking: like his Republican predecessor, Obama used a “surge” of troops to bolster the public-relations campaign for the war. And like Bush, Obama finds himself unable to communicate a clear exit strategy – emphasis on “strategy.”
No, there was no realistic chance that Obama was going to get out of Afghanistan overnight — of course not. But there’s no use in pretending that he’s markedly different from George W. Bush in his endgame, or lack thereof. Unlike Bush, he didn’t start these two wars, but he’s no better when it comes to ending them.