Dick Cheney has a point. And it’s a damn good one.
Either admit the Bush administration responded to 9/11 righteously or condemn Barack Obama as a war criminal.
Ouch, baby. That’s a tough choice for the thoughtless reformers of the war-crime left, who have been whipsawed by current events into a dead silence.
President Obama campaigned (and initially governed) on the premise that the Bush administration over-prosecuted the war on terror, sacrificing American principles for safety. Then the realities of a world filled with able and dangerous enemies came home to roost. It was decision time for President Obama: Either govern by sticking to misguided campaign rhetoric or, as Wyatt Earp supposedly said to Ike Clanton at the OK Corral, “commence to fighting.”
The president chose to fight, picking up the substance, if not the style, of the war on terror pretty much where Bush and Cheney left off.
Obama has maintained domestic security practices, used Guantanamo Bay (not closed it), backed down from the silly idea of prosecuting Bush officials and the CIA for war crimes related to “enhanced interrogation,” warmed to the practicality of indefinite detention for enemy combatants, and, perhaps most importantly, made good use of SEAL Team 6, thank you very much, President Bush.
In complete disregard for Pakistani sovereignty, Obama authorized the killing of Osama bin Laden in that country. He even took the liberty of plopping bin Laden’s body into the deep blue ocean before anyone could say “martyr.”
How so very Dick Cheney.
And last week, in an even more controversial move, the president authorized the Predator drone aircraft strike that killed New Mexico-born al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki. Even though he was a U.S. citizen with vested civil rights, President Obama signed his death warrant without passing go or looking back.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was a George W. Bush move on steroids.
All of this leaves the faux reformers of the 2008 Obama campaign with nowhere to go. They won’t condemn the Obama administration and call him a war criminal (as they labeled Bush), but neither will they stand upright and admit that Bush, in retrospect, made the right calls to protect America in the war on terror.
In fact, we now know that if there were a profoundly bad call between the actions of the Bush and Obama administrations, it was the horribly ill-advised speech given by Obama in Cairo on June 4, 2009, in which he delivered an embarrassingly naïve and now totally inoperative piece of foreign-policy drivel.
“And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles,” the president said. “Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
“So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law.”
Wow, what a difference two years makes in the Bushification of a president. Obama now not only builds upon the early Bush/Cheney decisions, but he also righteously adds unilaterally invading Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden and killing a U.S. citizen who had chosen sides poorly in the war on terror.
Good for President Obama. Better late than never. Hope he keeps it up.
Obama’s current actions not only loudly disavow his own early speeches, they constitute as much of an apology to Bush and Cheney as they can ever expect to get.
In the meanwhile, all those in the liberal chorus who condemned Bush and advocated the 2009 Obama approach to terrorism, well, they don’t have much to say these days.
Getting ideologically whipsawed by your own leader’s actions tends to do that.
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, writes a weekly column for Stephens Media.