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davidtrump

​​​​​​​Foreign affairs

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Foreign affairs

The Obama administration inherited a war in Afghanistan, a war in Iraq, and a global "War on Terror," all launched by Congress during the term of President Bush in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Upon taking office, Obama called for a "new beginning" in relations between the Muslim world and the United States, and he discontinued the use of the term "War on Terror" in favor of the term "Overseas Contingency Operation." Obama pursued a "light footprint" military strategy in the Middle East that emphasized special forces, drone strikes, and diplomacy over large ground troop occupations. However, American forces continued to clash with Islamic militant organizations such as al-Qaeda, ISIL, and al-Shabaab under the terms of the AUMF passed by Congress in 2001. Though the Middle East remained important to American foreign policy, Obama pursued a "pivot" to East Asia. Obama also emphasized closer relations with India, and was the first president to visit the country twice. An advocate for nuclear non-proliferation, Obama successfully negotiated arms-reduction deals with Iran and Russia. In 2015, Obama described the Obama Doctrine, saying "we will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities." Obama also described himself as an internationalist who rejected isolationism and was influenced by realism and liberal interventionism.

Iraq and Afghanistan

During the 2008 presidential election, Obama strongly criticized the Iraq War, and Obama withdrew the vast majority of U.S. soldiers in Iraq by late 2011. On taking office, Obama announced that U.S. combat forces would leave Iraq by August 2010, with 35,000–50,000 American soldiers remaining in Iraq as advisers and trainers, down from the roughly 150,000 American soldiers in Iraq in early 2009. In 2008, President Bush had signed the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, in which the United States committed to withdrawing all forces by late 2011. Obama attempted to convince Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to allow U.S. soldiers to stay past 2011, but the large presence of American soldiers was unpopular with most Iraqis. By late-December 2011, only 150 American soldiers remained to serve at the US embassy.  However, in 2014, the U.S. began a campaign against ISIL, an Islamic extremist terrorist group operating in Iraq and Syria that grew dramatically after the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq and the start of the Syrian Civil War. By June 2015, there were about 3500 American soldiers in Iraq serving as advisers to anti-ISIL forces in the Iraqi Civil War, and Obama left office with roughly 5,262 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and 503 of them in Syria.

Obama increased the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan during his first term before withdrawing most military personnel in his second term. On taking office, Obama announced that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would be bolstered by 17,000 new troops by Summer 2009, on top of the roughly 30,000 soldiers already in Afghanistan at the start of 2009. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Michael Mullen all argued for further troops, and Obama dispatched additional soldiers after a lengthy review process. The number of American soldiers in Afghanistan would peak at 100,000 in 2010. In 2012, the U.S. and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement in which the U.S. agreed to hand over major combat operation to Afghan forces. That same year, the Obama administration designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally. In 2014, Obama announced that most troops would leave Afghanistan by late 2016, with a small force remaining at the US embassy. In September 2014, Ashraf Ghani succeeded Hamid Karzai as the President of Afghanistan after the U.S. helped negotiate a power-sharing agreement between Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. On January 1, 2015, the U.S. military ended Operation Enduring Freedom and began Resolute Support Mission, in which the U.S. shifted to more of a training role, although some combat operations continued. In October 2015, Obama announced that U.S. soldiers would remain in Afghanistan indefinitely in order support the Afghan government in the civil war against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIL. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Martin Dempsey framed the decision to keep soldiers in Afghanistan as part of a long-term counter-terrorism operation stretching across Central Asia. Obama left office with roughly 8,400 U.S. soldiers remaining in Afghanistan.

Guantanamo Bay detention camp

In 2002, the Bush administration established the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to hold alleged "enemy combatants" in a manner that did not treat the detainees as conventional prisoners of war.  Obama repeatedly stated his desire to close the detention camp, arguing that the camp's extrajudicial nature provided a recruitment tool for terrorist organizations. On his first day in office, Obama instructed all military prosecutors to suspend proceedings so that the incoming administration could review the military commission process. On January 22, 2009, Obama signed an executive order restricting interrogators to methods listed and authorized by an Army Field Manual, ending the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques." In March 2009, the administration announced that it would no longer refer to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants, but it also asserted that the president had the authority to detain terrorism suspects there without criminal charges. The prisoner population of the detention camp fell from 242 in January 2009 to 91 in January 2016, in part due to the Periodic Review Boards that Obama established in 2011. Many members of Congress strongly opposed plans to transfer Guantanamo detainees to prisons in U.S. states, and the Obama administration was reluctant to send potentially dangerous prisoners to other countries, especially unstable countries such as Yemen. Though Obama continued to advocate for the closure of the detention camp, 41 inmates remained in Guantanamo when Obama left office.

Killing of Osama bin Laden

The Obama administration launched a successful operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, a global Sunni Islamist militant organization responsible for the September 11 attacks and several other terrorist attacks. Starting with information received in July 2010, the CIA determined what they believed to be the location of Osama bin Laden in a large compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a suburban area 35 miles from Islamabad. CIA head Leon Panetta reported this intelligence to Obama in March 2011. Meeting with his national security advisers over the course of the next six weeks, Obama rejected a plan to bomb the compound, and authorized a "surgical raid" to be conducted by United States Navy SEALs. The operation took place on May 1, 2011, resulting in the death of bin Laden and the seizure of papers and computer drives and disks from the compound. Bin Laden's body was identified through DNA testing, and buried at sea several hours later. Reaction to the announcement was positive across party lines, including from predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and from many countries around the world.

 

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