Time for Obama to Look at Terrorism Differently
It is always dangerous to mistake your ideological preferences for shrewd political strategy, but that is precisely what President Obama and his advisors have done with the war on terror.
On the right, the prevailing critique of the president's approach to the war on terror is that it is both deeply ideological and unserious. Obama remains fixated on the idea of closing Guantanamo, even if it means keeping irredeemable terrorists in U.S. prisons indefinitely. The administration initially banned the use of the term "war on terror," preferring the ridiculous bureaucratese "overseas contingency operations." Homeland Security Secretary
Immediately after the Fort Hood shootings and again after the foiled
Admirably, Obama was quick to correct the record about Abdulmutallab, contradicting Napolitano's initial contention that "the system worked." Rather, Obama admitted there was "systemic failure." Since then, the media have reported that Abdulmutallab's arrest and interrogation were as flawed as the system that let him on the plane. FBI agents interviewed the jihadist for 50 minutes, according to the
Meanwhile, pro-Obama pundits have been rolling out a revealing argument: Terrorism happens; get over it. For instance, Time's
Whatever the merits of these arguments and Obama's responses, one thing is becoming clear: They amount to awful politics. One of
"People talk about the potency of the health-care issue," Brown's political strategist,
Indeed, after years of debate over the tactic, a Rasmussen poll found that 58 percent of Americans favored waterboarding Abdulmutallab to get intelligence.
Of course, if the Obama administration's reluctance to treat terrorists like enemies is derived entirely from deep-seated ideological principle, then it should stick to its guns. But couldn't some of the reluctance be a holdover from the politics of the George W. Bush years? The Democrats came into power believing that downplaying and downgrading the war on terror was both right and politically smart. The former is debatable, the latter unsupportable.
Overseas, Obama doubled down in
The British empire destroyed Thuggee terrorism in
Question: Would Obama's domestic prospects look better or worse right now if he'd correctly treated the Fort Hood and
Purely partisan conservatives should hope that Obama continues to see the war on terror through the same lens he's used for the last year. But it would be better for America -- and Obama -- if he saw the light.
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Time for Obama to Look at Terrorism Differently | Jonah Goldberg
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