Whatever else one wants to say about Iraq and Afghanistan, one cannot honestly say that Obama ended the wars in those countries. The U.S. continues to drop bombs on both, deploys soldiers in both, kills civilians in both, and engages in a wide range of overt and covert force, all without a shred of Congressional approval.
“We’ve ended two wars.” — Barack Obama, July 21, 2015, at a DSCC fundraiser held at a “private residence”
“Now that we have ended two wars responsibly, and brought home hundreds of American troops, we salute this new generation of veterans.” — National Security Adviser Susan Rice, May 20, 2015
“His presidency makes a potentially great story: the first African-American in the White House, who helped the country recover from recession and ended two wars.” — Dominic Tierney, The Atlantic, January 15, 2015, “America Will Miss Obama When He’s Gone”
Report from Airwars, August 2, 2015, detailing civilian deaths from continuous U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria:
New York Times, today, headlined: “U.S. Planes Strike Near Kunduz Airport as Fight Rages On”
American warplanes bombarded Taliban-held territory around the Kunduz airport overnight, and Afghan officials said American Special Forces were rushed toward the fighting. … The situation for the Afghan forces improved somewhat toward midnight: American warplanes conducted airstrikes at 11:30 p.m. and again at 1 a.m. on Taliban positions near the airport, an American military spokesman said. … Around the same time, soldiers with the American Special Forces headed out toward the city with Afghan commandos, according to Afghan government officials.
How do you know when you’re an out-of-control empire? When you keep bombing and deploying soldiers in places where you boast that you’ve ended wars. How do you know you have a hackish propagandist for a president? When you celebrate him for “ending two wars” in the very same places that he keeps bombing.
All of this, just by the way, is being done without any Congressional approval, at least with regard to Iraq and Syria. As my colleague Cora Currier noted when reporting on the Airwars report in August, these civilian deaths are “a reminder of the extent to which the United States’ air war in Syria and Iraq has rolled ahead with little public debate over its effectiveness. Congress has still not passed a specific legal authorization for the war.”
Russia today announced that its upper Parliament approved its own imperialistic intervention and bombing campaign inside Syria, and that legislative body was widely (and not inaccurately) derided by U.S. commentators for being what the New York Times called a “rubber stamp.” The Obama administration, by contrast, does not even bother with the empty ritual of Congressional approval for its bombing campaigns; the president proved he is even willing to bomb a country after Congress rejected his authorization to do so, as happened in Libya. Indeed, the one and only time Obama venerated the need for Congressional approval for bombing was when he was pressured to bomb the Assad regime for crossing his “red line” but did not actually want to do so; as Charles Davis put it today, “Obama only seeks Congress’ authorization when he doesn’t actually want to do something, as when Assad crossed his ‘red line.'”
Photo: U.S. soldiers inspect the site of a suicide attack in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy traveling through a crowded neighborhood in Afghanistan’s capital Saturday, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO contractors, authorities said.