The Long Game vs. The Long War
Although he never saw battle or served in uniform, Barack Obama entered the White House with bold ambitions for what he wanted to achieve as commander in chief.
Instead of thinking about the U.S. role in the world in terms of military might alone — what in the post-9/11 years became known as fighting the “long war” — Obama sought to forge a grand strategy that reflects the totality of American interests and to project global leadership in an era of seemingly infinite demands and finite resources. This is playing the “long game.”
Obama sees war for what it is: often necessary, but always tragic. In his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize speech, which remains Obama’s most important statement on the use of force, he made clear that the “instruments of war” are indispensable to the preservation of peace. He is willing to pull the trigger — think the Afghanistan surge in 2009, the bin Laden raid, hundreds of counterterrorism operations with drones or special operations forces, or the nearly 10,000 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since 2014. But at the same time, Obama often said privately that he did not want “killing people” to be his only lasting legacy...