Obama's 'Mission Accomplished'

Matt Westerhold
Jun 5, 2014


In the second year of his second term, President Barack Obama announced this month the draw down of troops in Afghanistan.

It's over.

Twelve years after the invasion, nearly all the troops are shipping out. Twelve long years, and Obama's record on war is more like Nixon's than Ghandi's.

A blood bath, too, will happen, like Nixon's Saigon in 1975, only this one won't be broadcast by television news. Walter Cronkite won't go there and return to counsel America.

It's a deep disappointment, or a deep misunderstanding.

Obama continued the Bush era policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter the longest U.S. engagement in history.

Two wars, likely unlawfully launched by Bush, by Chaney. But as the cleanup batter voters elected in 2008, Obama struck out. Disappointment is an understatement, even if ​he was ​trapped by circumstance.

But what's a president to do; indict his predecessor and the prior VP? The war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan. The war on terror. Manufactured war. Enduring war. Contracted war.

To war is human; it's the DNA.

Former President George W. Bush's own top anti-terror expert, Richard Clarke, believes war crimes were committed.

“We have established procedures now with the international court in the Hague where people who take actions as serving presidents or prime ministers of countries have been indicted and have been tried,” said Clarke, who served as Bush's coordinator for security and counter-terrorism.

​Clarke resigned after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“So the precedent is there to do that sort of thing and I think we need to ask ourselves whether or not it would be useful to do that in the case of members of the Bush administration​," Clarke told journalist Amy Goodman, with the news program Democracy Now.

“It's clear, in my mind, at least its clear, that some of the things they did were war crimes​.​”

Is Clarke right? Was Obama supposed to ​force an indictment? Is Obama compelled by circumstances to ​launch an investigation? Of Chaney? Of Bush? If not Obama, who would order one​? A partisan Congress? 

Is the American presidency untouchable?

​And the wars. ​

Is it over then? In Iraq? In Afghanistan? What was accomplished? What was lost? Do our returning veterans get the care they deserve, the care they need, the gratitude of a nation, or are they left waiting, and dying?

And what's next? Syria? Ukraine?

If Obama is to be credited, we aren't there yet. The big gun remains holstered among so many bad choices and the politicization of wars, the special interests lobbying for wars.

The lesson of Vietnam, the lesson of Nixon, started getting lost in the star wars precision of the first Gulf War, executed by 41's father, former President George H. Bush. The privatization of war began then, too, and accelerated in the two short decades since.

Changing the human war DNA isn't a priority, and if it is happening its pace is evolutionary, not revolutionary. It's slow-going.

The U.S. Defense budget is untouchable, the Sacred Cow few if any politician or elected representative dare questions or even discusses. But small percentage cuts in defense spending amounts to billions that could be spent to provide public education, facilities, healthcare services and used in other different ways to change the world.

​The evolution cannot be televised.


Shut up Westerhold; a reader responds




Re: "Nixon's Saigon in 1975,"

@ Mr. Westerhold:


Gerald Ford was POTUS.

Democrats oversaw the funding and the defunding of the war.


Re: "Two wars, likely unlawfully launched by Bush, by Chaney"

A military response for the events of Sept. 11th were OVERWHELMING popular.

There was bi-partisan Congressional support for an Iraq invasion.

(The U.S. was ALREADY in Iraq, e.g. No-fly zones.)

Nice attempt at revisionist history.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Contango. The column referred to remarks by the Bush administration's former top anti-terrorist chief. Mentioning his remarks in the column would not be revisionist. 


HR 4655 Iraqi liberation act Matt have you read this? Seems not. And to say the war is over is irresponsible and naïve. These people will try to kill Americans at every opportunity. This isn't like WW2 when surrender agreements were signed, no surrender here by a long shot.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks freespeech. The column does not suggest the war is over. In fact it asks that very question: "Is it over then?" The legislation you mention, also, is just one small part of a 12-year engagement that many have questioned. 


The problem I have is Obama is making it seem this war is over, sadly it never will be. My son who has had many deployments to that region (as counter intel) has confirmed to me that this will never be over. These are dangerous times and complacency is something we cant afford. Thanks for your response.


The only thing worse than Obama in office, is Obama in a gym! Blahahahah! What a twirp.

Too bad they don't have a teleprompter that he can watch to show proper form in the gym.

All those "cool" points he thinks he got hanging out with rockstars, and shooting hoops, went right down the drain with that video!


I saw that video and could not believe how wimpy that so called man is. Those 5 lb dumbbells whipped his butt lol


It will be over and it is. We have no purpose there. You can't make anyone like you. So they hate us and want to kill Americans. Defend the homeland. Sitting in an outpost in the middle of a desert is serving no real purpose. Bring them All home and rebuild America!


You don't think they will attack us here again? I hope you aren't that ignorant. You kill them before they get here period. And why do you care anyway? You stated a few months back you would never serve this country and glad of that fact. So honestly your opinion holds no merit. War is ugly that's reality, these islamists want us dead that's reality. So its not over and never will be. Your president is naïve to even think this is over with. So answer this, if a terror attack occurs and these 5 were in on it, what will be your opinion then? Will you still support Barry The Weak?


If they attack, we defend. I get an opinion regardless. The Constitution says so. Why are you soooooooo scared? It's over. You are not killing anyone, you want others to risk their lives for you. That's the definition of a coward.


Re: "It's over."

No war is ever "over."

There is always unfinished business and lingering unintended consequences.

H*ll, the U.S. is still going around the globe cleaning up the messes of the colonial powers (France, UK, et. al) from centuries ago.

You're naïve and historically ignorant.


I served unlike you. But again you and your ilk will attack me for that. Keep defending this worthless president. And where did I once mention I was scared? Also to believe this war is over is ridiculous. But you libs cant see logic or fact, you all think the world will be all lovey dovey. Well guess what its not. Now lets get back to the constitution, since when does your party respect the constitution? Oh that's right I forgot, you only do when it benefits you.

AJ Oliver

Dear Matt - There was no blood bath in Vietnam after the U.S. was defeated. The U.S. military, on the other hand, killed over 3 million people in that conflict - defending Vietnam from the Vietnamese. That is why I joined Veterans for Peace. And on the wind down of the Afghan War: I don't think the militarists have any intention of leaving - ever. Once the empire gets a toehold, it's very difficult to pry it loose. The U.S. is still in Kosovo almost twenty years after the conflict ended - Camp Bondsteel is so big it can be seen from space.

Trigger from Erie

Um, that would be "Cheney," not "Chaney." *sigh*


Re: "Two wars, likely unlawfully launched by Bush, by Chaney,"

While we're throwing around the term "illegal"; probably ought to include Pres. Obama's "illegal" U.S. involvement in the Libyan Civil War and the clandestine (read: CIA) operations in Pakistan, Yemen, Chad and God knows where else.


Again..Afghanistan is sad legacy of Ron Reagan. Again Obama had a timeline for Iraq & the US gone. McCain did not. People "quickly" forget their history.


What Obama Promised in 2008:


“I’ve also said that I would be deliberate and careful in how we got out, that I would bring our troops home at a pace of one to two brigades per month and that pace would have our combat troops out in 16 months. That position has not changed. I have not equivocated on that position, I am not searching for maneuvering room with respect to that position.”

What difference did it make? He didn't come close to keeping to his timeline. By his timeline we should have been out of Iraq either by June of 2010, which was 16 months after he took office, or October of 2010 which was 16 months after troops started to be drawn down. Was he incompitent before he took office or after he took office, inso far as keeping his promise? Troops weren't out of Iraq till December of 2011.

Seems like McCain was not stupid enough to make a timeline that wouldn't be kept. In an overseas conflict there is no way to be accurate in what will be happening 2 years out. He didn't learn the timeline problems when he promised that obamacare website would be up and running as good as Amazon's website by October 2013. All it shows is he doen't learn from his mistakes. Not a good thing.


Re: "Afghanistan is sad legacy of Ron Reagan."

The facts: CIA involvement in Afghanistan began under Pres. Carter.



At least he kept one of his campaign promises, It only took what 6 years.


Matt Great Op Ed!!! In regards to Mr. Kaufman's letter to the editor, he doesn't understand that an Op ED piece is just that- an opinion, not reporting which is what he is complaining about. Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, I was appalled at the right wing cartoons printed in the Register. Then I came to realize that liberal cartoons were also being printed. Since the Register covers deep Red Huron County as well as liberal Erie County etc. this paper is just serving all it's readers even Mr. Kaufman even if he doesn't realize it. Keep up the great work, Matt!