I don't think very much of Vox.com and its journalistic standards. I've made the case against them before in detail, but the evidence of their general lack of professionalism is still piling up. Vox has a daily email newsletter written by Matthew Yglesias, and today's missive contains the following gem:
Obama's pretty successful Middle East strategy
Obviously, Obama's strategy in the Middle East is a disaster. Yemen is a disaster. Syria is a disaster. Libya is a disaster. Iraq is a mess. The relationship with Israel is a mess, and yet nothing has been accomplished for the Palestinians. Disaster disaster disaster.
This conventional wisdom isn't exactly wrong, I guess, but I think it leaves some important big picture things out. Relative to his predecessor, Obama has succeeded in drastically reducing the number of Americans getting killed in the Middle East while continuing to keep the US homeland free of terrorist attacks. That's pretty good!
People used to argue a lot about promoting stability versus promoting democracy, and Obama has not succeeded in promoting either. But he has protected core US interests at a low cost. That's decent work, if you ask me.
It is true that Obama pulled troops out of Iraq, which did cut down substantially on U.S. military deaths. Of course, it's worth considering all the other deaths Obama's Iraq policy may have caused. Recall that Joe Biden bet his vice presidency the administration would secure a Status of Forces Agreement to keep some troops in Iraq. The White House failed to secure Status of Forces Agreement, and since then Obama has made all sorts of disingenuous flip-flops on whether he intended to keep some troops in Iraq. The bottom line is the lack of U.S. troops in Iraq paved the way for ISIS. And is also ceding the country the Iran-backed Shiite militias fighting ISIS. The country is now an abattoir, but it's not Americans that are being dumped into mass graves and Obama feels no need to honor any sort of commitment to Iraq so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
But what about Afghanistan? Total troop deaths in Afghanistan under Obama: 1,663. Total troop deaths in Afghanistan under Bush: 569.
Oh and "continuing to keep the US homeland free of terrorist attacks"? I forget -- why are we having that big trial up in Boston with that Tsarnaev kid again? It's been in the news quite a bit lately, so Yglesias doesn't have much an excuse for overlooking this. And there have been at least four other domestic terror attacks on Obama's watch -- the underwear bomber, the Times Square Bomber, the Fort Hood shooting, and the Little Rock military recruiting office shooting.
This might be the most callous, superficial, and flatly inaccurate defense I've ever read of Obama's foreign policy -- and that's saying something.