George W. Bush left an administration full of loose ends, including the War on Terror and the presence of US troops in Iraq. Barack Obama’s first order of business — and his often forgotten earliest victory — was his ability to clean up the mess that was left behind by the previous president. Obama campaigned to end the War on Terror, bring our troops home and rebuild the safety that Americans deserved. Through the course of his presidency, Obama was not only able to keep his promise, but continued to build a stronger union with allies, break boundaries with countries at risk, capture and kill Osama Bin Laden, and end the Iraq War.
Fight on Al Qaeda
One of the defining legacies left by Bush was his fight against those who killed nearly 3,000 Americans on US soil. Obama not only picked up the fight, but proved that he had the perseverance, intelligence, and means to end this long awaited victory. On May 2, 2011, Barack Obama ordered the strike that ultimately killed one of America’s most wanted men in history. Operation Neptune Spear was launched shortly after 1 a.m. in the iconic Situation Room. Following completion of the mission, President Obama addressed the American People stating, “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.”
After Obama confirmed the killing of Osama Bin Laden, he showed mercy and respect for the traditions of even the nation’s biggest enemy. The body of Osama Bin Laden was taken to Afghanistan to be identified and, once confirmed, was buried at sea within 24 hours of his death, in accordance to Islamic tradition. While the President faced opposition for the decision, the fact of the matter is that Barack Obama demonstrated a core foundation of America: freedom of religion.
US Troops in Iraq
Almost as huge of an endeavor as the War on Terror was the current presence of US troops still occupying Iraq. The Iraq war began in early 2003 and after five years of war under President Bush, Obama picked up the cause with a passion to end the conflict.
Obama announced the end of combat missions in Iraq on August 31, 2010, confirming his pledge to bring our troops home, stating, “Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done. We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq. This completes a transition to Iraqi responsibility for their own security.”
Four months later, President Obama withdrew the last remaining troops in Iraq on December 21, 2011 heralding the official end of Iraqi occupation, making true on his promise to end the war.
All this was accomplished within the first term of his presidency, making Obama one of the most effective leaders working through prior presidential obligations. Obama has continued to fight for making America safe, while building relations with Burma, Cuba, and striking a nuclear deal with Iran, all in the name of fighting terror — not fighting terror through traditional means of invasion and war, but through infrastructure and diplomacy. Barack Obama has made astounding accomplishments during his presidency, and his legacy regarding the War on Terror and the Iraq War is but one example among his victories etched in history.