Obama and Terrorism

Like It or Not, the War Goes On

Capture the flag: Shiite fighters with an Islamic State banner in Iraq, November 2014. Stringer / Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama came into office determined to end a seemingly endless war on terrorism. Obama pledged to make his counterterrorism policies more nimble, more transparent, and more ethical than the ones pursued by the George W. Bush administration. Obama wanted to get away from the overreliance on force that characterized the Bush era, which led to the disastrous U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. That war, in turn, compromised the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda. During the past six-plus years, Obama has overseen an approach that relies on a combination of targeted killing, security assistance to military and intelligence forces in partner and allied countries, and intensive electronic surveillance. He has also initiated, although in a tentative way, a crucial effort to identify and address the underlying causes of terrorism. Overall, these steps amount to an improvement over the Bush years. But in many important ways,

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