It’s kind of amazing to type that, really. 2003’s bitter wounds, as that war began over our fierce objections, had seemed now to be closed, if somewhat licked from time to time. A war that just kept kicking along forever until we turned it away from our focus, letting it drone on beneath our consciousness. A quagmire that seemed to offer no way out except for a leader to have the courage to walk away from it. To see it truly ending demands a post-mortem, and to give one we must remember.
Sullivan applies this to assessing Obama’s role:
We sometimes forget that he began as an anti-war candidate when the Great Recession was a twinkle in a credit default swap trader’s eye. And when I hear people whining about his betrayals or their disappointments, I just hope they note that against great odds, the Iraq war is over without our running for cover. Given the core contradiction of the conflict and the bungling of the occupation: not so shabby. Given his core reason for running for president, mission accomplished.
Some forgot that Obama had the edge over Hillary Clinton in 2008 because he had had the courage to stand up against the Iraq War before it was politically advantageous to do so. So this really is a full circle, one that vindicates and redeems, regardless of whatever Clinton or even McCain would have theoretically done. We chose him to end the war, and he ended the war. Sure, the Iraqis had to say no to offers of more troops, but at least Obama listened and will stick by the terms of the contract with the Iraqi people.
Let’s see the same in Afghanistan, sooner rather than later, although realistically I don’t expect it until Obama’s second term.