Obama will avoid some of the judgment of history by passing these endless, festering conflicts onto his successor. Trump will have the unenviable choice of ending them in humiliation, passing the results on to triumphant and opportunist rivals, or trying a version of George W. Bush's and Obama's "surge to withdraw with a scrap of dignity" strategies.
President Obama surged in Afghanistan as the "real war," but halted the offensive before the military wanted it ended (we attacked in the south but were stopped from the next year's planned offensive in the east) and drew down our troops. Which led me to ask just why our president ordered the sacrifice of so many American troops for no real point.
President Bush, however, ordered a surge that actually won the war on the ground.
President Obama's administration actually boasted of the achievement when it ordered our withdrawal and Vice President Obama claimed Iraq would be one of the great achievements of the Obama administration!
We won the Iraq War. That's why the Obama administration could boast.
All the Obama administration had to do was defend the gains by staying in Iraq after 2011 to bolster the Iraqi government in developing rule of law to keep the Sunni Arabs within the tent, reassure the Kurds, check Iranian influence over elements of the Shias, and hunt down the remnants of the jihadis we beat in the surge and with the help of the Awakening.
We achieved so much in ending the threat of Saddam's Iraq which supported terrorism on top of plain old territorial aggression, turning Iraq into an ally against jihadis, and killing off jihadis, that President Obama launched Iraq War 2.0 in fall 2014 to restore what had been won.
Lumping in Bush 43's Iraq surge with Obama's Afghanistan surge as a pair of failures when President Obama was the author of both enemy recoveries is dishonest or ignorant.
Or it is just that writers still don't want to risk being ostracized by polite liberal society and lose invitations to those prized cocktail parties of the proper thinkers.