The Corner

Not So

I think Mike Potemra has unfortunately missed entirely the thrust of my post — and in somewhat unfair fashion. President Obama will find no stronger supporter of his commitment to Afghanistan than I, and I applaud law enforcement’s successful efforts to break up the latest round of terrorist plotting. My point was much different, and I am surprised he didn’t grasp it.

a) Almost weekly an administration official still goes abroad (cf. Secretary Clinton’s latest remarks in Pakistan) blasting the prior administration for a supposedly flawed policy that somehow led to greater tensions with allies in the war against terror, or was, in fact, culpable for allowing Afghanistan to deteriorate, etc. My point was that after nine months of the tiresome references to the reset button and much-heralded outreach to radical Islam, I see not much difference in the severity of the animus shown the U.S. at home and overseas, as evidenced by acts of terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan;

b) at one time or another, candidate and then President Obama has derided the current anti-terrorism protocols (e.g., renditions: “shipping away prisoners in the dead of night,” military tribunals: “flawed military commission system,” preventative detention: “detaining thousands without charge or trial,”  the surge of troops into Iraq: “not working,” and the Patriot Act: “shoddy and dangerous”) that he has in fact employed, and apparently to great effect on our behalf. But his prior easy criticism was unfair and may well have eroded public confidence in the efficacy of these tools.

Once again, despite the Obama team’s harsh rhetoric against past counter-terrorism efforts of the United States, I see no lessening in his present tenure, as a result of such harsh criticism of what we did between 2001–9, in efforts of terrorists to kill us. The recent plotters don’t care much whether Guantanamo is open or not, or whether there is rendition or whether we attribute printing to the Islamic world, or whether we tell the Pakistanis, and the Afghans, and most in the Middle East that thank God the Bush cowboy years are over, since the problem transcends both Bush and Obama.

This was no cheap shot, but a serious effort to make two points: attacking a prior administration’s policy to win favor with overseas actors will not lessen the incidence of terror; nor will plots at home lessen as a result of past serial disparagement of the Patriot Act, tribunals, wiretaps, and associated mechanisms. I would have thought that point was clear.