Former President George W. Bush has been getting a majority of the blame for the instability within the Middle East. Two costly wars drastically plagued America throughout the Bush era. The estimated costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to total somewhere between 4 to 6 trillion dollars. By 2012, the cost was about 2 trillion dollars and 20 percent of the debt accumulated in the past decade was due to these two wars. However, should the American public only blame President Bush for the two wars? Should he take full responsibility and his successor takes none?
President Obama campaigned on ending the War in Iraq during the 2008 election. After giving an impressive anti-war speech in 2002, Obama continued to oppose the war and wanted a quick withdrawal in 2007 stating
“I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008. Letting the Iraqis know that we will not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunni and Shia to come to the table and find peace.”
His aides vowed to leave Iraq within 19 months while keeping a group between 30,000 and 50,000 troops in order to preserve our national security. So much for a quick withdrawal and ending the war. By 2012, Obama had declared that the War in Iraq was over and it helped to define his presidency. The problem lies in the fact that troops consistently stayed in Iraq on multiple occasions. and Obama never kept to his timetable or fully withdrew from Iraq. President Obama wanted the troops to stay longer and worked with the Iraqi government to allow 3,000 and 10,000 troops before he declared his withdrawal from Iraq. Instead of adhering to his own timeline or working with his aides, he instead stuck to Bush’s timeline, his predecessor that he ridiculed for apparently being a War Hawk. Obama failed to remember when the Iraqi’s demanded the withdrawal by 2011 and it was Bush who wanted to keep troops in indefinitely. What would have happened if the Bush timeline was the indefinite timeline? Would Obama have kept troops in Iraq indefinitely? He already failed to get out of Iraq by March of 2008 and again within 19 months. While the initial engagement began under Bush, Obama contributed significantly to the current turmoil in the Middle East by extending the policies of his predecessor
Instead of leaving Libya to Gaddafi, Obama destabilized the region. While the Republican War Hawks such as John Mccain and Lindsey Graham ridiculed Obama for being soft on foreign policy, Obama proved them wrong by intervening. Again, in 2012, Obama sent more troops into Libya and began sending troops to Yemen. Even while Congress was skeptical about the War in Libya, President Obama and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton continued to be in support of the war. 2 to 3 years later, just like Iraq, Libya was completely destabilized and is much worse off.
As for ISIS, it was Obama who initially wanted to go to war to overthrow Assad and support ISIS in Syria. Obama lacked restraint in Syria even after the American public did not want war and after the growing opposition brought Democrats and Republicans together. After being warned about intervening in Syria, the US government began sending weapons to Syrian rebels. The same Syrian rebels that are allied with the jihadists in Iraq. The same rebels non-interventionists warned about. Obama consistently fails to remember history. When we aided rebels in the past, we helped to fund radical islamist organizations such as Al-Qaeda. Instead of leaving the terrorists to Assad, who was allied with the Christians, we funded ISIS, who now wants to completely eradicate Christianity from that region of the world.
While some criticize Obama for his dovish tendencies, others have seen through the deception and realize Obama is much less restraint than President Bush. Obama’ lack of restraint gave rise to an extension of drone strikes on an unparalleled level. In Pakistan, the drone policies under Obama led to 328 strikes while only 48 occurred under Bush. In Yemen, Obama extended the drone policy in order to combat terrorism. By the end of 2013, about 2400 people were killed due to Obama’s drone policy. Several were unnamed and more than likely civilian casualties. Alone in Pakistan up to 200 children were killed by these drones. While killing terrorists is great, the loss of an innocent life in the Middle East will continue to haunt the civilians and further instill hatred about the western world.
The lack of restraint of President Obama has led to more wars, more spending, more deaths, and less stability within the Middle East. America must be willing to question the policies of the current administration even if a significant amount of the blame should be put on those that immediately screamed for more wars and bombs overseas. Imagine if a drone was flying over America and killed innocent children in the name of peace. Would we still call it peace? Would the leader responsible still be worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize? If America dubs President Bush, the compassionate conservative, a war hawk or war criminal, President Obama must be dubbed an unrestrained warmonger. His possible successor for Democrats will be much worse due to her support for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.