The Corner

Obama’s Aggression Demonstrates the Failure of his Foreign Policy

Is Barack Obama leaving office as a peace president? You be the judge. Here’s item one – the Marines are going back to Helmand Province:

The Marine Corps will send a new task force of military advisers to southern Afghanistan’s restive Helmand province this spring, returning to a region where tens of thousands of Marines fought during the Obama administration and hundreds were killed.

About 300 Marines with a unit called Task Force Southwest will deploy, advising the Afghan army’s 215th Corps and Afghan national police with the 505th Zone. The forces will work in part from a large Afghan installation known during earlier Marine operations as Camp Leatherneck, but will be based in other locations and could face combat, senior Marine officers said Friday.

Here’s item two — American troops in ground combat in Syria:

Members of an elite U.S. force have carried out a ground operation in eastern Syria aimed at capturing leaders of the Islamic State, U.S. officials said Monday.

The raid took place on Sunday near a small town along the Euphrates River valley to the north of the city of Deir al-Zour, deep in the heart of Islamic-State territory, according to the officials and Syrian activist groups.

The troops, who landed on helicopters, spent about 90 minutes in the area, then left carrying Islamic State captives and bodies, according to witnesses quoted by the website Deir al-Zour 24, which monitors Islamic State activity in that province.

And here’s item three — a Navy destroyer fired warning shots at Iranian boats:

A Navy destroyer opened fire Sunday in the Strait of Hormuz after four Iranian patrol boats behaved in a way that a U.S. defense official described as “harassing.”

The USS Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer, fired three warning shots at four Iranian boats after at least one of them traveled within 900 yards of the Mahan. It was traveling north through the strait toward the Persian Gulf with two other Navy vessels, the amphibious craft USS Makin Island and the oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl, a U.S. defense official said.

The Iranian boats “broke away after the warning shots were fired,” and they established contact with the Mahan by radio by asking for its course and speed, a U.S. defense official said.

Make no mistake, I’m glad we’re not surrendering Helmand Province to the Taliban, I’m glad we’re taking the fight directly to ISIS on its home turf, and the warning shots from the Mahan are a welcome change from the carnival of failures that led to last year’s capture of two riverine command boats. But this is not the world that Obama was supposed to leave to his successor. He was going to turn the page, transform America’s relations with the Muslim world, and correct the Bush administration’s errors.

Instead, he’s leaving office with American forces engaged in at least seven countries — including in ground combat in Iraq, Syria, and likely Afghanistan. American forces dropped bombs last year in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. It turns out that jihadists took American retreat as an invitation to advance, not an opportunity to disengage. Fortunately, Obama eventually stopped retreating  (at least in some countries) and is responding with military force, but nothing signals the failure of his policies more than his grudging decision to do what he hates — keep fighting America’s endless war.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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