Foreign Policy Blogs

Bin Laden is Right… Obama Cannot Stop These Wars

Wars, or more specifically the ability to politicize wars, are of the utmost political capital during any election cycle. They arm either side with a highly emotional charge resonating deep in to the voters conscience. ‘BRING OUR BOYS HOME NOW’ or ‘WE WILL NOT SURRENDER’. The problem for candidates that are elected on these types of knee-jerk reactionary issues, as President Obama is indeed discovering, is that it is nearly impossible to deliver on pledges once made.

Osama bin Laden, making his yearly, boring and un-nuanced speech on the anniversary of 9/11 makes one glaring and accurate statement. President Obama is unable to stop the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s not so much that he does not possess the authority or the will, because he does. Nor is it a Republican opposition or Democratic ineptitude. The hard truth is that Barack Obama is unable to stop these wars because America’s role in the region is entirely reactionary, and her fate rests in the hands of others.

That is the great difficulty facing the American administration. Success in Iraq is now in the hands of the Iraqi military and political leadership. While patrols have been delegated to the countryside and less populated regions, an American military presence will remain in the country until Iraqi legitimacy and authority takes firm roots. We’re not talking years, we’re talking decades.

The same situation exists in Afghanistan. NATO forces, once engaged in specific and surgical warfare against Taliban fighters, are now fighting a war of attrition: trading cities when possible and sacking towns at the expense of leaving others vulnerable to attack. One can only imagine how long this will persist.

Mr. Obama is now facing a serious crisis of confidence amongst his electorate for very genuine reasons. He was elected as a dynamic and flashy candidate, yet the great issues of his presidency are boring, detailed, and infinitely complex. Those who campaign for an immediate end to both wars are misguided, diluted by rigid ideology, or simply ignorant of the facts. It is quite necessary to end both wars, but it is not in America’s best interest to do so now. Both Bin laden and President Obama know this.

So what is to be done? Unfortunately for the American administration, and much to the chagrin of diehard democrats, it is now the time to ‘stay the course’. Mr. Obama is not about to reverse the numerous successes in Iraq, nor is he about to return Afghanistan to the hands of murderers. Attrition is better than defeat, especially when the stakes are this high. Bin Laden knows that. President Obama knows that. The real difficulty is selling that hard reality to the American people.



Josh Hammer

Josh Hammer is an International Relations theorist, with expertise in terrorist ideology, American foreign policy, and war / conflict resolution. He currently holds a Master's of Science degree in International Politics from the University of Edinburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the George Washington University. Josh's most recent work, his M.Sc. thesis, is a comparative analysis between Marxist / Leninist ideology and Osama bin Laden's global jihadi movement. He currently resides in New York.

Areas of Focus:
Terrorist Idealogy; American Foreign Policy; Conflict Resolution;