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The Realist Prism: Barack W. Obama Revisited

Friday, Jan. 8, 2010

A year ago, Christian Brose penned a provocative article for Foreign Policy entitled "George W. Obama." In it, the former speechwriter for Condoleezza Rice asserted that "Obama ran against a caricature of Bush's first term" during the 2008 election, rather than the Bush foreign policy of the second term. Moreover, of the latter, he predicted that Obama would "largely continue it." In large measure, Brose has turned out to be right. Despite the rhetoric of "change we can believe in," there has been a high degree of continuity between the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

Take the most significant legacy of the Bush years, the Iraq war. In 2008, candidate Obama promised, "I will bring this war to a close. In 2009, I will bring our troops home." Since taking office, however, President Obama has hewed largely to the plans laid down by his predecessor and enshrined in the 2008 "Status of Forces" agreement: U.S. forces out of Iraqi cities by summer 2010, with at least 50,000 troops to remain in Iraq until 2011 -- and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has hinted there could be a small "residual force" left even after that date. ...

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