Now, as Mr. Obama prepares to hand over the reins of White House authority to Donald J. Trump, a leader that’s more skeptical than he is about the value of American engagement in foreign conflicts, a look at Afghanistan captures the disillusionment of a man who believed, as he put it in his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, “that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly.”
Afghanistan was a crucial turning point in the evolution of Barack Obama. The antiwar candidate of 2008 who had pledged to turn around Afghanistan — the “good war” to George W. Bush’s “bad war” in Iraq. Obama did concede that the longest military operation in American history would not end on his watch. The optimistic president who once thought Afghanistan was winnable had, through bitter experience, become the commander in chief of a forever war.
He remains defensive about the lessons of that journey. “We shouldn’t assume that every time a country has problems that it reflects a failure of American policy,” the president said in an interview in September 2016.
The above excerpts and many more were extensively discussed in a classic article titled: “The Afghan War and the Evolution of Obama” by MARK LANDLER and was published in The New York Times on Sunday, January 1, 2017. Read more Here