Elected on a promise of ending the United States’ wars abroad, President Obama pledged to completely withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by 2011. That date was later extended to 2014, and didn’t include "counter-terrorism" operations. On Thursday, the timetable was extended further still.
The latest plan calls for 9,800 US troops to remain in the country through 2016, with 5,500 staying past the end of Obama’s term. After that? Who knows.
But it’s not just Afghanistan. Despite assurances that the Machiavellian tactics of the Bush-era would be eradicated, Obama has continued – sometimes even increased – American entanglement in the "war on terror."
The covert drone strike program which began under President Bush has been significantly expanded by Obama. The Pentagon has carried out hundreds of drone strikes since 2008, and as recently leaked documents provided to the Intercept reveal, many of those were conducted with knowingly faulty intelligence. This has led to a shocking number of civilian deaths.
An analysis conducted last year by human rights group Reprieve found that 1,147 people had been killed by drone strikes targeting just 41 men. Thursday’s Intercept leak shows that over a 5-month period, 9 out of 10 people killed in US strikes were not the intended targets.
In Libya, the Obama administration’s bombing campaign toppled a stable – if troubled – government and led to a chain reaction still being felt around the globe. With the power vacuum that resulted from Gaddfafi’s ousting, the country is at risk of falling under the influence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group. Migrants have used the unguarded shores as a dangerous waypoint to cross the Mediterranean.
Closing Guantanamo Bay was also listed as a key goal of the President Obama. Used by the Bush administration to detain terrorist suspects, the base has become one of the most physical symbols of the nebulous war on terror.
With 116 prisoners still imprisoned inside the base, it is appearing increasingly unlikely that Obama will manage to close the installation before his term ends.
Then there’s the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group. While President Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were ostensibly aimed at stomping out terrorism, those conflicts are also largely to blame for the creation of one of the bloodiest militant groups in modern history.
The Obama administration has conducted airstrikes against IS in Iraq and Syria since the summer of 2014, albeit with little success. The Pentagon has also attempted to directly equip and train so-called "moderate" Syrian rebels, another failed policy which has only drawn the United States further into its own Middle Eastern quagmire.
And just this week, the US was forced to expand its fight against IS to yet another theater. President Obama recently announced plans to send 300 troops into Cameroon, where the terrorist group Boko Haram is gaining a foothold.
While Obama may have come into office with the intention of ending the US war on terror, he may end up leaving with a track record even worse than that of President Bush.