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“President Obama Is Soft On Terror”

“President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war.” –Dick Cheney

Since the attempted Christmas day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, many right-wingers have resumed criticizing President Obama’s stance on terrorism. Former VP Dick Cheney has led the chorus in recent days. While the Obama administration may not embrace warfare with the glee of the Cheney/Bush team, it’s categorically untrue to assert that the administration has gone soft on terrorism.

In fact, Obama’s anti-terror policies have much more in common with the Bush/Cheney policies than you might think.  Obama has massively increased our troop commitment to Afghanistan– the epicenter of the war on terror according to most experts. President Obama has opened a new front in the battle against Al-Qaeda in Yemen. He has partnered with Pakistan to combat Al-Qaeda’s growing presence there.  Obama has continued a policy of transferring prisoners to foreign countries to be interrogated.

Earlier this week, President Obama said the following:

We face a challenge of the utmost urgency. As we saw on Christmas, Al Qaida and its extremist allies will stop at nothing in their efforts to kill Americans. And we are determined not only to thwart those plans, but to disrupt, dismantle and defeat their networks, once and for all.

Indeed, over the past year, we’ve taken the fight to Al Qaida and its allies wherever they plot and train, be it in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Yemen, in Somalia, or in other countries around the world.

Does that sound like a President “pretending that we are not at war”?

White House communications directer Dan Pfeiffer responds to Cheney’s blustering:

To put it simply: this President is not interested in bellicose rhetoric, he is focused on action. Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country. And it seems strangely off-key now, at a time when our country is under attack, for the architect of those policies to be attacking the President.  […]

The former Vice President makes the clearly untrue claim that the President – who is this nation’s Commander-in-Chief – needs to realize we are at War. I don’t think anyone realizes this very hard reality more than President Obama. In his inaugural, the President said “our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”  […]

There are numerous other such public statements that explicitly state we are at war. The difference is this: President Obama doesn’t need to beat his chest to prove it, and – unlike the last Administration – we are not at war with a tactic (“terrorism”), we at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. And we will prosecute that war as long as the American people are endangered.

In short, right wingers like Cheney will seize any opportunity to criticize the President.  Unfortunately for them, in this case they have no facts to back up their assertions.  While Obama may not “beat his chest” as loudly as Cheney, it’s not the chest-beating that kills terrorists.  Bombs and bullets kill terrorists, and since Obama has taken office the bombs and bullets have continued to find their targets.

3 comments to “President Obama Is Soft On Terror”

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