Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Credit Where Credit Is Due

A vendor sells shirts saying "It took Obama to get Osama"
For the past 2.5 years, a recurring theme coming from the right wing in America, their supporters in the media, and from former members of the Bush Administration, is that Pres. Obama is "weak" on foreign policy. He is weak, they argue, because he is deviating from the "war on terror" policies implemented by the Bush Administration. Those failed policies - which include torture, military occupation, inadequate number of troops for said occupation, and outsourcing the job of finding Osama Bin Laden to Pakistan - produced very little success. The American people overwhelmingly rejected those ideas when presented with the alternative provided by then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008.

Mr. Obama offered a different plan. His stated policy was to draw down from the previous administration's war of choice in Iraq, and focus our efforts back where they should have been all along: Pakistan and Afghanistan. He promised, as a candidate, that he would catch and kill Osama Bin Laden with or without international help or the permission from whatever country was harboring him.

As President, Obama has done exactly as he said he would. Combat operations in Iraq have ended, and the large majority of troops have left the area. Over the last two years, President Obama has added additional forces to the effort in Afghanistan on three separate occasions. He did this despite the opposition from a large portion of his party's base. In addition, he has stepped up the drone attacks in Pakistan where our intelligence services said most of Al Qeda's leadership was hiding out. He has taken lots of international criticism for his aggressive pursuit of terrorists inside Pakistan. The right has given him virtually no credit for this. In fact, even today, the former half term governor of Alaska said Obama's foreign policy "lacked clarity." Really, Sarah? Killing the most wanted terrorist in the world is pretty fucking clear to me.

As our operations inside Pakistan increased, so did our proximity to Bin Laden. All the extra hard work and intelligence analysis finally paid off last year when the Obama Administration received credible, actionable intelligence on the location of Bin Laden. Finally, after being "on the run" for nearly a decade, Bin Laden was killed by US Special Operations Forces on the express orders of President Obama. If you remember, as early as 2002, the Bush Administration decided to abandon its pursuit of Bin Laden, and instead, move most of our military and intelligence assets to Iraq. Iraq, of course, had nothing to do with 9/11 or Al Qeda. Former President Bush even dismissed Bin Laden as not being very important.

Fast forward to today. While the right wing continues to attack Obama on every angle, for every thing (even things they once supported), the president had one of the greatest military and foreign policy victories in American history. Osama Bin Laden, the founder and primary financial resource of Al Qeda, is dead. The man more responsible than anyone else for the attacks on 9/11, the USS Kohl, and the US Embassy attacks in Africa, is dead. It was the Obama military and the Obama CIA that did it. George W. Bush has not been president since January 20, 2009. This happened on May 1, 2011. To the extent that a President deserves credit for a successful operation, it is President Obama who deserves this credit.

The Bush Administration abandoned the effort in Afghanistan and turned over the search for Bin Laden to former Pakistani President Musharraf. In 2005, the Bush CIA officially shut down its unit dedicated exclusively to finding Bin Laden. Is it a coincidence that the compound in Pakistan where Bin Laden was found began construction in 2005? You tell me. Think Progress has a great piece up today detailing the Bush Administration's poor effort in trying to find the man responsible for 9/11.

The myth that Democrats are "soft" on national defense has now been eradicated for good with the successful elimination of Bin Laden. This makes the Republicans very nervous. The Democrats have always been more trusted on the economy, on domestic policy, and on international relations. However, for the last three decades, the right wing has won elections by portraying Democrats as soft, or as unwilling to do "what it takes" to protect America.

This is now over, but that is not stopping the right from claiming it is "their" efforts and failed policies that are responsible for Obama's success. Some Bush apologists have desperately claimed it was Bush's illegal torture program that yielded the intelligence that led to Bin Laden. They, of course, leave out the fact that former Vice President Cheney said the "enhanced interrogation" program ended in 2003. Are we really supposed to believe that information gathered prior to 2003 is somehow actionable in 2011? Does that even pass the plausibility test? If this information was so good, why didn't the Bush Administration use it? Hell, even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) put the myth about Bush's torture program being responsible for catching Bin Laden to rest, "This idea we caught bin Laden because of waterboarding I think is a misstatement. This whole concept of how we caught bin Laden is a lot of work over time by different people and putting the puzzle together. I do not believe this is a time to celebrate waterboarding, I believe this is a time to celebrate hard work."

An article by Bruce Linder, entitled Crediting the Proper President, pretty much spells out the case for why crediting Bush for this success is ridiculous. Money quote: "And lastly, Over the past two and a half years, President Obama has pointed out several times; 'We didn’t create this war/economy/environment, we inherited it,' which is true. And without any hesitation, the canned Republican response is; 'George Bush isn’t president anymore, you are. This is all your baby now. Yes it is. And as unpleasant as it is that the wars, the economy and the environment ARE now Obama’s baby, so too is what happened Sunday night. George W. Bush no more deserves a soup├žon of credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, than he does for being an Ace fighter pilot during the Vietnam War."

Exactly. The Obama haters need to get past it and celebrate this huge victory for America. They need to congratulate not only the incredible efforts by the Special Ops forces and the intelligence analysts, but the Commander in Chief, as well. Like it or not, that Commander in Chief is Barack Obama. To deny him the credit for this is to put your hatred of one man ahead of your love of country. That is a sad place to reside, my teabagging friends out there. Truly sad.

1 comment:

Snave said...

For some on the right, their hatred of Obama is so much that they are incapable of enjoying the moment. It is almost like they send a message that tells us they hate our president more than they hated Osama Bin Laden, or that they feel our president is more of a threat to our nation than Al Qaeda is, or than Bin Laden was.

They need to lighten up for a few minutes and enjoy the moment, regardless of who ultimately oversaw the operation... but maybe some of them feel like if they did that, it would mean being "off message" for a few minutes. And if they give the president credit for *anything*, they might be considered treasonous or something, or some of their friends might not like them any more. Sheesh.

Some of us have lived to see some pretty major things that have been generally positive... the first space flights, men on the moon, the ending of the Vietnam War, the fall of the Soviet Union and the taking down of the Berlin Wall, to name a few. The killing of Bin Laden ranks up there with those things. It is an event of such magnitude in our country's history.

There is still plenty of work to be done to keep our country safe, but for now, let's give thanks to the brave people who have pursued Bin Laden for years, to those wise people who gathered the intelligence necessary for getting him, to those brave people who went in and got him, and to the administration that wisely authorized the operation at a time which appeared to guarantee maximum success.

America rocks. Our military rocks. And, like it or not, Obama rocks. Some people on the right apparently still need to get used to those things.