When Barack Obama was inaugurated as U.S. president in January 2009, he inherited a poisoned chalice from the Bush administration in the form of Afghanistan. The high hopes that had accompanied the overthrow of the Taliban regime through Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, and the installation of a new Afghan interim administration under Hamid Karzai in December of that year, had almost totally dissipated. Instead, President Obama was faced with mounting casualties in the U.S. force deployed to Afghanistan, an Afghan president whose behavior was becoming increasingly erratic, and a domestic debate in which parallels with America’s Vietnam quagmire were increasingly and worryingly being drawn. Unhappily, the Bush administration’s legacy also left the new U.S. administration with a limited range of options by which to reverse the situation. Transition processes tend to have their own logics and dynamics, and once things begin to go astray, resetting the course is as difficult as executing a sudden turn in a huge ocean liner. The situation in Afghanistan is not beyond recovery, but the challenges that confront the Obama administration are nonetheless very substantial.
|Title of host publication
|America's Challenges in the Greater Middle East: the Obama Administration's Policies
|Place of Publication
|Palgrave Macmillan Ltd
|Published - 2011