Fed up with Karzai, Obama is leaning more toward the “zero option” in Afghanistan: no troops at all after next year. I sure hope that’s where we end up. Obama’s election in 2008 was a clear repudiation of the reckless interventionism of the recent past; his re-election in 2012 cemented the shift toward a global American role that is more attuned to our balance sheet and our actual security threats. Leaving remnants of empire behind in places like Iraq and Afghanistan undermines that shift, re-legitimizes the notion that the US must somehow control every nook and cranny of the globe (we can’t and it corrupts us when we try).
That’s the change Obama represented to the next generation: a pragmatic adjustment to a reality that has nothing to do with the neocon and boomer mindsets of the past.. He has delivered, by and large. But the clarity of the departures is what will help define the future: a future of limits.