Obamas Unfinished War

354
DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-2-13-22
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23 Profsoyuznaya St., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

 

Abstract. This article explores the role of the United States military in Afghanistan since the official end of the coalition’s combat mission. It explains why President Obama had to make a painful choice between pressing ahead with withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and abandoning his goal of ending the longest war in American history. Specifically, it focuses on major adjustments to the original drawdown plan outlined in May 2014, which the President made under growing pressure from the Pentagon, Republican lawmakers and much of the national security establishment in Washington. By doing so the President came under criticism for going back on his promise to bring home almost all American troops by the end of his second term. He was also criticized for handing off responsibility for the Afghan conflict to the next president, who will decide the size and scope of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan beyond 2017. Meanwhile, based on the current situation on the ground it seems that the Obama administration’s attempt to “sublet the war” to Afghan national forces has failed. As Afghan army and police forces can hardly contain terrorist and insurgent groups, the American military has to step in, thus blurring the line between assistance and direct action. Even so, the rapid spread of insurgency in 2015 exposed the limits of the U.S. and allied troop presence, mostly in an advisory and training capacity. Given the new developments in the country, especially the Islamic State’s growing presence and the Taliban’s dramatic gains including the seizure of Kunduz, it appears that President Obama will leave his successor a far worse situation in Afghanistan than the one he inherited eight years ago. Overall, without a clear strategy and bipartisan consensus on the way forward in the Afghan war, it is highly unlikely that a new administration will prevent the country from spiraling into chaos now plaguing Iraq. 

Keywords: Obama’s plan, Afghanistan, NATO, International Security Assistance Force, Resolute Support Mission, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Afghan National Defense and Security Forces 


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For citation:
Shapiro N. Obamas Unfinished War. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2017, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 13-22. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-2-13-22



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