While the Bush administration spent 8 years pursing an ideological war of division at home (Americans who disagreed with them were as much the enemy as bin Laden himself) and abroad and squandering billions of dollars like drunken sailors, the Obama administration has gotten serious about taking the fight to the terrorist leaders who have waged war on the West long before the events of September 11, 2001.
Andrew contrasts the approaches of the previous and current administration,
Compare the two presidents. One unleashed a war in Afghanistan he then left to languish, and sparked an unjustified war in Iraq, that became a catastrophe of mass death and chaos. He both maximally antagonized the Arab and Muslim world and didn't even score a major victory against the enemy. In many ways, Bush gave al Qaeda an opening in Iraq where it never had one before, and allowed its key leadership to escape at Tora Bora. The torture program, meanwhile, fouled up our intelligence while destroying our moral standing in the world.I have been very critical of Obama's failed leadership on domestic issues, but I think Andrew gets this right. The so-called war on terror is not a war between sovereign state actors but against individuals and their networks that exist outside of governments. To defeat them, you have to relentlessly hunt them down, one by one, and kill them. While Bush and Cheney quixotically tilted at windmills and launching invasions of governments not involved, Obama has focused the power of the DoD and CIA like a laser on the individuals actually leading the terror war against not just the US, but the Western world. This by the way, is how Israel has been defending itself against terror since the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Obama has ended torture and pursued a real war, not an ideological spectacle. He has destroyed almost all of al Qaeda of 9/11 (if Zawahiri is taken out, no one is left), obliterated its ranks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, found and killed bin Laden, in a daring raid pushed relentlessly by the president alone, capturing alongside a trove of intelligence, procured as a consequence of courage and tenacity rather than cowardice and torture.
I know the next election will be about the economy. But what it should also be about is the revelation of the Republicans as fundamentally weak on national security. Caught up in their own ideology, they proved for eight years they'd rather posture and preen than do the intelligent, relentless, ethical intelligence work that is only now leading to victory.
Obama, in other words, is winning the war Bush kept losing. And since Cairo, we have witnessed the real flowering of democratic forces in the Middle East - unseen during the Bush-Cheney years. For all the tireless efforts of the Israelis to cripple US foreign policy against Jihadism, Obama has done the job. If he fails to make this case in the next election, he will, in my judgment, be blowing an important opportunity to reinforce a structural advantage against the GOP on national security.