The 1990s All Over Again

Over at Medium, I analyzed President Obama’s landmark speech on Thursday and thought it sounded very familiar:

If this sounds familiar, that’s because such policies largely defined American foreign policy during the 1990s. The 1993 intervention in Somalia is possibly the most memorable: humanitarian aid, governance support, and targeted strikes against militia leaders as part of a multinational UN peacekeeping coalition. Though Obama promised “no more Black Hawks Down,” referring to the infamousBattle of Mogadishu, he is basically replicating the very policies that created it.

That doesn’t mean Obama’s new turn is doomed to failure. Despite some similarities between the two administrations (expansive surveillance, a “surge” in Afghanistan, excessive secrecy), Obama has tried to distance himself from some of the worst aspects of George W. Bush’s foreign policy — frivolous invasions, torture, and counter-insurgency. The concepts Obama laid out today are a reaction against that legacy, even if they implicitly admit that his own flirtations with targeted killings and counter-insurgency haven’t worked as well as he’d hoped.

Read the rest over at Medium.

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