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. 


The Iraqi invasion was authorized by Congress in 2002.

I was against the invasion because Saddam did comply with Bush's mandates. He was dragging his feet but he did comply. My opinion was the cruise missile attack, taking out the hierarchy was illegal.


Re: "He was dragging his feet but he did comply."

SH was directing the inspectors to the spots he chose. H*ll, Iraq is the size of TX. Lot of ground to inspect.

During the Clinton admin. SH had kicked the inspectors out. And we're supposed to trust a liar?

Every intelligence agency in the world, e.g. Mossad, the UK, France, et. al. thought that he had WMD.

Public opinion was 70% in favor of the invasion.


Bush kept alluding that Iraq was involved in 911; he did it throughout his entire presidency.

He also did a switcheroo on us by changing up making Saddam comply with the UN resolutions to a "regime change".

The 2002 resolution in Congress didn't authorize a regime change--if I remember correctly.

The truth of the matter is that Saddam hated Al Qaeda.

Also, Bush made the promise that we would not be taking out Iraq's infrastructure for the people of Iraq and when we started bombing that's all we did was to take out their infrastructure.

Iraq was a terrible war. Also the biggest gold rush in the history of mankind--ain't that a shame.


Re: "Bush kept alluding that Iraq was involved in 911 (snip)"

Nice revisionist history.

Prove your accusations with a credible source.

SH was already dealing with terrorists:


The fear was that SH would help arm al-Qaeda with WMD and a "dirty bomb" would end up being detonated in the U.S.


Sure he did. That's all we heard for 8 years.

The fear was losing the oil. All the rest was hype to justify the war.

Not much has been said about the scandal with the Bush administration controlling the media--paying for manufactured news favorable to the Iraqi war effort.


Re: "Sure he did. That's all we heard for 8 years."

So other than blather you've got no proof?


H*ll, Pres. GHW Bush was criticized by some even on the left for not going into Bagdad and 'finishing the job' during the Gulf War.

So why did Pres. Obama get involved in the Libyan Civil War?


"Iraq 'behind US anthrax outbreaks'":

"Last autumn Mohamed Atta is said by US intelligence officials to have met in Prague an agent from Iraqi intelligence called Ahmed Samir al-Ahani, a former consul later expelled by the Czechs for activities not compatible with his diplomatic mission."



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.



HR 4655 Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.

This bill authorized the above but not by force.


But it doesn't rule out force.


(REVISED AS OF 10/05/98 -- Passed House, amended)

Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.

Authorizes the President, after notifying specified congressional committees, to provide to the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations: (1) grant assistance for radio and television broadcasting to Iraq; (2) Department of Defense (DOD) defense articles and services and military education and training (IMET); and (3) humanitarian assistance, with emphasis on addressing the needs of individuals who have fled from areas under the control of the Hussein regime. Prohibits assistance to any group or organization that is engaged in military cooperation with the Hussein regime. Authorizes appropriations.

Directs the President to designate: (1) one or more Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that meet specified criteria as eligible to receive assistance under this Act; and (2) additional such organizations which satisfy the President's criteria.

Urges the President to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law.

Expresses the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime.


The history revisionists and the liberal ignorant continue to conveniently forget that the U.S. and her allies were ALREADY in Iraq prior to the invasion.

"Iraqi no-fly zones":

"Air strikes by British and American aircraft against Iraqi claimed anti-aircraft and military targets continued weekly over the next few years."


It was only a matter of time before Iraq shot down an allied aircraft - then what?


FYI: Iraq is a country 'made-up' by the colonial Brits.

Just another example of the U.S. cleaning up others' messes.


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!