Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

February 17, 2010

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TALKING TOUGH AND BEING TOUGH.... Over the weekend, Vice President Biden made a rather bold claim about the administration's counter-terrorism efforts: "There has never been as much emphasis and resources brought against al-Qaeda. The success rate exceeds anything that occurred in the [Bush/Cheney] administration."

Today, David Ignatius considers whether the claim is accurate.

The Karachi raid [that led to the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar] is part of a broad offensive that has sometimes been overlooked in the partisan squabbles over whether the Obama administration should be giving Miranda warnings to terrorist suspects. "The real action has been pounding the hell out of al-Qaeda and its allies around the world," the official argued.

The numbers show a sharp upsurge in operations against al-Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan since Barack Obama took office.... All told, according to U.S. officials, since the beginning of 2009, the drone attacks have killed "several hundred" named militants from al-Qaeda and its allies, more than in all previous years combined. The drones have also shattered the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, which has been waging a terror campaign across that country. [...]

[S]urely the country can agree, looking at the evidence, that Obama has been no slouch in pursuing what he said in his inaugural address was a "war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred."

It's simply astounding to hear conservative Republicans claim that President Obama has been "weak" on counter-terrorism. Short of having the president air-dropped into mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan with a knife in his teeth and an assault rifle on his back, I'm not sure how more aggressive Obama could be. More to the point, he's far more forceful and successful on the issue than Bush -- who somehow managed to cultivate a bogus reputation of "toughness" -- ever was.

The AP had a similar assessment the other day, emphasizing, among other things, that Obama's decision to reduce the U.S. presence in Iraq has "freed up manpower and resources to hunt terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan." It's an approach that "intelligence officials, lawmakers and analysts" believe is working. Obama has also made regional gains with constructive outreach to Islamic allies, which has bolstered international cooperation.

Those of us who take national security matters seriously can take comfort in the fact that congressional Republicans can't filibuster the Obama administration's counter-terrorism efforts. GOP obstructionism can undermine the economy, the strength of our health care system, and our national energy policy, but fortunately, Obama is the Commander in Chief.

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Rule #1: Democrats are weak on national defense.
Rule #2: If a Democrat is not weak on national defense, see rule #1.

Posted by: Christopher on February 17, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

[S]urely the country can agree, looking at the evidence, ..........

Surely the country will never know because the Administration deems it unseemly to tout it and the MSM doesn't "do" those stories post 2008. Admittedly I don't have cable and my watching of network news tends to be spotty, but I have yet to hear about the Baradar capture from any other source than online.

Posted by: oh well on February 17, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Short of having the president air-dropped into mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan with a knife in his teeth and an assault rifle on his back, I'm not sure how more aggressive Obama could be.

They'd say he did that for the photo-op.

Posted by: TonyB on February 17, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Let's also not overlook the fact that Obama is getting better intel and using it to find actual terrorists. Baradar *is* a very important Taliban official, and he's just one of several important people Obama's team have captured or killed over the past 13 months.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration ended up sweeping primarily innocent people into their nets and carting them off to Guantanamo, where they were left to rot at best, tortured or murdered at worst (example: the Uighurs). They never got any decent intel, even from the few real ones they'd found like Kalid Sheik Mohammed. Even worse, it was a public relations and recruiting victory for Al Qaeda, who merely had to point at Guantanamo and say, "See what America is like?"

Posted by: Shade Tail on February 17, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

i can see why killin' is a final resource for bragging on the Dims...
they caint govern any better than the Repugnants -- for different reasons -- but they sure as hell can kill a bunch of people.

The United States has about 70% market share of the weapons sales everywhere in the known universe. We are pretty much the sole suppliers for all warfare killin'. And the Obama admin is wanting a bigger share yet...

Kinda cool to think about if you're a ten-year-old boy...

Posted by: neill on February 17, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

If you look at this from the Bush/Cheney perspective of "toughness"---the maniacal need to wage a "wag-the-dog" kind of war that promotes armchair neocon tacticians and cowardly draft-dodgers as Rambo 2.0---then the Republicans are right: Obama is being "soft on terror" by not having the gumption to prolong the false sense of needing a very long time to do a simple thing as the means to propping up the true terror wrought by the war profiteers. It's harder by far to convince the world of its moral need to suffer needlessly, while you turn a two-to-three-year campaign into a "forever war" so that your "base" can make zillions of dollars from it....

Posted by: S. Waybright on February 17, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

neil wins the thread.

Posted by: Uzza on February 17, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Correction - Neill killed the thread.

Posted by: scott F. on February 17, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

This might be a good time to poll who the American people think is tougher on Al qaeda/war on terror, the Obama administration or the Bush Administration, the results might be revealing!

Posted by: yESmAN on February 17, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

It's simply astounding to hear conservative Republicans claim that President Obama has been "weak" on counter-terrorism.

Really? Conservative Republicans claimed that the attempted Maersk Alabama hijacking proved Obama was weak. And hey did that, not after, but during the effort to save its captain.

A little perspective refresher:
Conservative Republicans claimed Sarah Palin was the most qualified candidate out of Biden, Obama, and McCain because of her executive experience. This is coming from a party that argued with a straight face that Alaska's proximity to Russia constitutes foreign policy experience.

We're not dealing with rational people. We're dealing with a massively failed party hell bent on making sure the current party enjoys zero success, lest the comparison destroy conservatism forever.

Posted by: tempered optimism on February 17, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks Neill.

The "wars" in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and anywhere else you want to name are not about terrorism and never were.

"War is a Racket" by Smedley Butler (someone who truly was aggressive)saw our war economy for what it is.

There's nothing but failure ahead, no matter how "aggressive" President Obama wants to look. I'm afraid he going to be Carterized no matter what he does now.

Posted by: GollyGee on February 17, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Today's NY Times:

"Gen. Ray Odierno, the senior American commander in Iraq, said Tuesday that two influential Iraqi politicians now involved in blocking candidates in the parliamentary election next month had close links to Iran, which the general said was trying to undermine the vote.

"General Odierno was unusually blunt in publicly expressing concerns about the actions of the two Iraqis: Ahmed Chalabi, who was a confidant of Bush administration officials in the prelude to the 2003 invasion but now is perceived as having supplied false intelligence to the United States; and Ali Faisal al-Lami . . ."

Posted by: penalcolony on February 17, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it sounds good......I'm undecided. I'll wait to hear what Dan Quayle thinks about it.

Posted by: Mark on February 17, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Good God Steve, you're now one of those: Very. Serious. People. you've ranted about in foreign policy for years....

Posted by: Paul on February 17, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Neil as per usual your completely full of shit. Your answer to the terrorists is what? Just let em go they'll go away and leave us alone. We should always strive to act in a more enlightened fashion but let draw an example for you. If a schoolyard bully is stealing your lunch money and beating you every day eventually you have to do something and until you(Neil) put a better idea out on how to address the problem of terrorism I suggest you shut the fuck up.

Posted by: Gandalf on February 17, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

We're missing the larger point -- as gollygee points out. It's not that the GOP has less effective tactics, its that they don't fundamentally care. Terrorism is an opportunity for military expansion and domestic political theater. This is too obvious and too inflammatory to be said in public.

Posted by: inkadu on February 17, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

What I tell you three times is true:

Good advertising works use it early and often, this is the time when people's perceptions are being formed and if Dems are beat up in the spring they will be beat in the fall.

Good advertising works Democrats should use it early and often, to counter Republican lies and get out the facts. This is the time when people's perceptions are being formed and if Dems are beat up in the spring they will be beat in the fall.

Good advertising works Democrats should use it early and often, to counter Republican lies and get out the facts. This is the time when people's perceptions are being formed and if Dems are beat up in the spring they will be beat in the fall.

Here's the story for that advertising:

The Bush Administration, for all its supposed competence, was basically a faith based institution. Faith that believing that something would work or was true because they believed it. They used the language, signs and symbols of the bible and evangelicals. Languages, signs and symbols which, while nice to listen to, have very little referents in reality.

Their faith in the the goodness of corporations gave us AIG. Their faith in privitization of the Army gave us rich mercinaries doing the same job as underpaid U.S. soldiers Their faith in brute force over intelligence gave us Abu Greve. Their faith in the "free market" have us a depression. Their faith in their lust for power has given us a broken government and a reactionary Supreme Court.

This is the kind of information the Democrats need to get out. And include their other successes and Maddow and others mentioned.

So every lie the Republicans tell which hits the general news casts and papers needs to be countered with advertisements telling the truth. Good advertising works Democrats should use it early and often, to counter Republican lies and get out the facts. This is the time when people's perceptions are being formed and if Dems are beat up in the spring they will be beat in the fall.

This is also true, it just freaks people out, because they can;'t conceive of an abuse of language so vast as the Republicans are using now: the Republicans are using the strategy of Lenin and the Communists, "One lie told often enough becomes the truth." (What's the general perception of the October Revolution, that it over threw the Tsar when in reality it overthrew Kerensky's leadership of the fledgling Russian republic.)

This is also true, it just freaks people out, because they can;'t conceive of an abuse of language so vast as the Republicans are using now: the Republicans are using the strategy of Lenin and the Communists, "One lie told often enough becomes the truth." (What's the general perception of the October Revolution, that it over threw the Tsar when in reality it overthrew Kerensky's leadership of the fledgling Russian republic.)


This is also true, it just freaks people out, because they can;'t conceive of an abuse of language so vast as the Republicans are using now: the Republicans are using the strategy of Lenin and the Communists, "One lie told often enough becomes the truth." (What's the general perception of the October Revolution, that it over threw the Tsar when in reality it overthrew Kerensky's leadership of the fledgling Russian republic.)

Posted by: Kurt on February 17, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Afghanistan and Pakistan with a knife in his teeth and an assault rifle on his back, I'm not sure how more aggressive Obama could be.

Well, he hasn't nuked anyone yet. In the meantime, I second SB's post from yesterday suggesting that the administration do a little more to draw attention to their successes against Al Qaeda.

Posted by: AK Liberal on February 17, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Bush -- who somehow managed to cultivate a bogus reputation of 'toughness' "
Steve Benen 10:40 AM

"Somehow," huh?
S'pose it could have been the deliberate concerted efforts of the mass media that are distinguishable from FoxNews only by the slightly-reduced blatancy with which they support the totally fallacious narratives that are all the Publicans have left, now that the complete, utter, and catastrophic failure of every single one of their operating principles, beliefs, and theories has been undeniably, irrefutably, and inexcusably demonstrated?
Hm?

Posted by: smartalek on February 17, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you understand? It's more important to act like you're tough than it is to act effectively.

Posted by: SteveH on February 17, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you understand? It's more important to act like you're tough than it is to act effectively.

Sadly, deep down, a majority of voting Americans actually feel that way.

Posted by: zeitgeist on February 17, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Look - it's all very simple. Republican beliefs create reality. Anything that appears to contradict that reality is not real. Also, it is often necessary to destroy something in order to save it. The way the modern GOP has internalized what Orwell saw as the Communist Party operating methods is impressive. Perhaps that will be Jonah Goldberg's next book?

Posted by: JohnR on February 17, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

What right wingers really mean by "weak" on terror of course is refusal to adopt those techniques (like torture, domestic surveillance, contempt for Congress and the Courts on national security matters) that undermine respect for Rule of Law and so facilitates a national culture of anger, hatred and vigilante retribution in which right wing politics and strong-man government are able to flourish.

It has nothing to do with actual effectiveness in fighting a war on terror. That is why Marc Thiessen is so active in promoting torture. The de-humanization that goes with it coarsens national values and attitudes which makes the entire right wing political agenda just that much easier to sell, including the acceptance of authoritarian forms of government, which may be why Thiessen was invited on a Catholic cable program to talk about the morality of torture, without too much challenge.

Pulverizing a sense of national community, and carpet bombing out of existance the softer virtues like empathy and compassion are why Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter get paid the big bucks. As all revolutionaries know, to change a country's politics you must first change the character of the people who live there.

Posted by: Ted Frier on February 17, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know what this war progress BS reminded me of?

From "Brazil":
00:01:30,885 --> 00:01:34,949
[Man] Tonight we have with us,
from the Ministry of Information
19
00:01:34,989 --> 00:01:37,651
Deputy Minister Eugene Helpmann.
20
00:01:37,758 --> 00:01:39,720
[Helpmann]
Good evening, David.
21
00:01:39,760 --> 00:01:44,158
What do you believe is behind
this recent increase in terrorist bombings?
22
00:01:44,198 --> 00:01:46,564
Bad sportsmanship.

Posted by: cwolf on February 17, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly