Democracy promotion: An unfortunate legacy
When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he inherited a poisoned chalice in the Middle East. American military power had expanded substantially in the region after a coalition of international forces led by the United States had routed the Taliban and deprived al-Qaeda of its safe haven in Afghanistan as well as the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq under the pretext of removing weapons of mass destruction. As a result of these operations, by the end of 2003 US forces encircled Iran, yet another thorn in the US side. Given the momentum of the war on terror and the neo-conservative zeal to remove hostile regimes in the wake of the September 11 attacks, it was widely anticipated that Tehran would be the next target. This attack did not eventuate, but the stage was set, and the United States had established an unprecedented military presence in the region.