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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Based on the Republican presidential candidates’ reactions to Barack Obama’s announcement today that the United States will withdraw all of its military forces from Iraq by the end of the year, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Obama administration’s approach to Iraq was a sharp break from the policies of George W. Bush. There’s just one problem with that theory: The president who got us into that quagmire was the same one who set the deadline to get us out — even if Bush didn’t necessarily mean it when he said America would be gone by the beginning of 2012.

Elected in large part because he promised a departure with the torture, endless wars, and chaos of the early Bush era, Barack Obama’s foreign policy has largely resembled a liberal version of the more moderate track Bush took toward in his final years, keeping on Robert Gates at the Pentagon and continuing with a surge in Afghanistan that bore a remarkable resemblance to the one Bush (somewhat succesfully) engineered in Iraq at the close of 2006.