When America traded George W. Bush for Barack Obama, few thought the result would be an escalation in the American war on terror. Swathes of U.S. conservatives (but also some liberals) were ready to dismiss President Obama as too naïve and idealistic to be president in the face of a heightened terrorist threat. Moderates did not believe that a campaign based on hope and change would cause Al Qaeda terrorists to fear this president more than the previous one. In Europe, meanwhile, Obama was seen as someone who would roll back the vulgarities of the war and make Europe feel good again about its more police-driven approach to terrorism.
Today, however, the handful of dissenters from this line of thinking looks prescient. Following the death of Osama bin Laden, it is clear Obama won’t be outflanked by the right on counterterrorism. Sending a team of operatives into Pakistan without that country’s knowledge because we believed (correctly) that bin Laden was there is not the work of a softie. Yet that decision is only one achievement in Obama’s well-established, hawkish approach to the war on terror—an approach that, whatever one thinks of its ethical merits, will serve him well in his reelection campaign.
Tags: barack obama, driven approach, reelection campaign, softie, vulgarities, war on terror