News broke on Monday of what is being called “Obama’s kill list” of terrorists targeted in drone attacks around the globe. President Obama is playing the final role of decider in the Pentagon’s campaign to target the network of global terrorists.
This story was met by some odd criticism. Some chose to question the President’s involvement in the process. Others asserted that Obama is somehow getting a free ride for something George W Bush would have been loudly criticized for.
The lazy analogy questioning Obama’s role is the comparison of President Johnson reviewing lists of bombing targets during the Vietnam War. That this is somehow meddlesome micromanagement or an odd obsession. The fact is this illustrates how much war has changed. War is different when it is waged against a global network, not a national army. A bomb factory is no longer a factory in a country, it’s a bomb maker hiding in Yemen, teaching others how to build deadly weapons. The enemy no longer has bases, but rather small training camps from the Horn of Africa to the desolate areas of Afghanistan to the jungles of Southeast Asia.
The lack of a defined border demands the attention of our President.
The strategy of minimizing, as much as possible, the number innocent victims or collateral damage is also strategically important. More precise targeting protects our soldiers, minimizes the number of innocent people that become rallying cries against us that help jihadist recruiters and elevates the fear abroad of the consequences of cooperating with terrorists. The fear of drones no doubt has a chilling effect abroad in addition to the very real outcome of eliminating the top leadership of al Qaeda.
Some on the right are going straight to the W polemic. it goes something like this: “Oh these Democrats. If Bush had done this they would be raising all sorts of trouble.”
No. They would have been thrilled to focus on the perpetrators of 9/11.
If George Bush had focused on winning the war in Afghanistan and taking down Al Qaida’s leadership instead of using 9/11 to go after the guy who tried to kill his Daddy he would have maintained the overwhelming support of not only Democrats in Congress, but the American people.
Republicans would do well to show President Obama the same support in the War against Al Qaida as Democrats gave Bush, when Osama bin Laden was considered a threat, rather than (in Bush’s words) “something (he) didn’t spend much time thinking about.”
About Bill Buck
Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist and President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.