Saturday, November 22, 2008

Barack Obama and counter-terrorism

The Foreign Policy Association's terrorism blog critiques Barack Obama's anti-terrorism stances:
Here is what I know of Obama’s view of the ‘War on Terror’ and International Conflict.
  1. He has opposed the War in Iraq from the on-set, yet now hails the surge as a success and will defer further judgments on troop deployment to ‘commanders on the ground’.
  2. While opposing the War in Iraq, he has frequently advocated intervention of some sort in troubled Darfur.
  3. He opposes the torture or mistreatment of military detainees.
  4. Obama would like to see an increased American presence in Afghanistan.
  5. He is willing to launch military strikes within other nations should they be unable or unwilling to respond to terror-specific intelligence.
  6. He views an unstable Pakistan and a nuclear-armed Iran as grave dangers to the international community and the United States.
  7. In broad terms he views terror as an issue of law enforcement, not military engagement, although some military intervention is necessary.
All of this is sensible, rational, and pragmatic. However, like the Clinton years, it lacks a cohesiveness and clarity that is beneficial when launching a renewed terror strategy. Clinton’s biggest flaw was his lack of an over-arching principle. Bush the elder had his ‘new world order’, yet Clinton took every issue on a case-by-case basis. Engage in Africa for one conflict, yet ignore the other. Attack bin Laden for one bombing, yet ignore other atrocities. For better or worse, the Bush administration understood their position and was able to execute their policy with effectiveness. The American people too, understood the actions taken by their leaders.

Obama runs the very real risk of having to explain every single action he takes, defend each and every decision, and waste time explaining to a weary world why America has gone down her specific path.

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