Skip to main content

Debunking the myth that Obama is weak or uninterested in defense

In the nearly two years since President Obama announced his bid for the White House, many of his opponents have gone to great lengths to claim that he is either weak or simply uninterested in defending the United States. A citizen can certainly disagree with the approach the President has taken to defend our country, but these outright claims of indifference have zero validity based on the events that have played out before and since Mr. Obama’s inauguration.

The President’s much talked about Nobel Prize acceptance lecture was the most recent and potentially most glaring example his personal worldview. 

“I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.  For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world.  A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies.  Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms.  To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason,” explained Obama to the assembled audience in Oslo.

Does this sound like an individual who believes that every criminal and terrorist in the world can be placated by simply whispering sweet nothings into their ear?

Would a naïve, pacifist back up a campaign promise by committing 30,000 additional soldiers to the country that served as the safe haven for the people who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001?

The President’s belief in defensive aggressiveness is overwhelmingly perpetrated by his allowance of the use of unmanned drones to follow and strike high level terrorist targets. The latest instance of this philosophy took place earlier this month with the killing of top Al Qaeda operations planner, Saleh al-Somali. The Somali attack was executed in the North Waziristan province of Pakistan. This region was also the sight of a successful attack on a high level Al Qaeda official earlier in the fall, when militant leader Najmuddin Jalol was taken out by the CIA’s state-of –the-art aircraft.       

In the last two years, the military estimates that between 400 and 900 militants have been killed by unmanned drones in both Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan. In fact, the number of drone attacks has grown since President Obama moved into the White House. 
The great irony of this highly successful military/CIA operation is the notion that then Candidate Obama was way ahead of the curve in his belief that the US should attack targets in Pakistan if actionable intelligence existed and if the Pakistani government was unwilling to carry this out on its own.
“It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005," said Obama, regarding the belief that the Bush Administration elected not to attack for fear of angering the Pakistani government.
"If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will," Obama later explained.
In response, high powered Republicans, including Rush Limbaugh, decried Mr. Obama’s assertion. Limbaugh even compared our current President to the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks during his radio program.
“Well, we've got another tape from -- I get these guys confused -- Osama bin Laden. Another tape says he's going to invade Pakistan and declare war on Pakistan and Musharraf (former Pakistani Prime Minister), which, ladies and gentlemen, puts him on the same page with a Democrat presidential candidate -- that would be Barack "Uss-Obama," said Limbaugh. 
In direct opposition to the apparent wishes of Limbaugh, the Bush Administration began doing exactly what Mr. Obama had advocated and now the idea of attacking targets in Pakistan is a mainstay of the government’s antiterrorism efforts.  President Obama was never advocating for a full scale war against Pakistan. He simply believed that terrorists should not be made to feel safe just because they left the sight of US soldiers in Afghanistan. 
Clearly, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agreed.    Wait; is that the same Robert Gates who serves in the very same role in the Obama administration? 
It looks like some Republicans may have an intellectual contradiction on their hands.
By no means am I claiming that President Obama is a Neocon, hawk, hell bent on shooting first and asking questions later. I am simply pointing out that many people on the right would be well advised to actually look at the facts, instead of making baseless, downright incorrect statements regarding the President’s desire to protect the citizens of the United States.


  • Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) 5 years ago

    Jon, the President is sworn to uphold the US Constitution, not "protect the citizens." The wars are unlawful; the UN Charter is a treaty and demands only wars in self-defense. Self-defense has a narrow legal meaning that Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan do not meet. Torture is unlawful; Obama won't prosecute. Our troops, government employees and men and women in law enforcement should do what they are sworn to do: refuse and stop unlawful orders to continue these wars.

  • Chiz 5 years ago

    The media defines reality. Throughout the entire 2008 election, all we heard about was troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fast forward to today; the total troop levels between the two locations remains approximately the same, yet we hear nothing in the media. Regardless of which party/person is in the office, people will try to twist the reality. It's interesting that Obama isn't receiving condemnation for the large number of troops, and the republicans are saying it isn't enough. Yet nothing has changed since GW Bush was Commander and Chief...