Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, October 23, 2016

Gene Lyons: Obama Is Not Soft On Terrorism — Nor Is He A Sociopath

Gene Lyons: Obama Is Not Soft On Terrorism — Nor Is He A Sociopath

There’s a definite Catch-22 aspect to the presidency. Anybody crazy enough to want the job probably shouldn’t be allowed to have it. That said, anybody who thought Barack Obama was going to deal with terrorists by sending flowers and proposing group therapy is certainly naïve enough to work for the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

Sweet reason never works with religious fanatics. When candidate Obama criticized the Bush administration’s “false choice between our safety and our ideals” in 2008, he was mainly talking about torture and Guantanamo. The notorious concentration camp remains open because President Obama ducked a confrontation with congressional Republicans determined to portray him as soft on terror.

Easy on al Qaeda, however, this president is not. See, it turns out that there’s a paradoxical aspect to disengaging from Iraq and Afghanistan too. A recent front-page story in The New York Times about Obama’s personally selecting targets for drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan puts it this way: “war is a messy business, and his actions show that pursuing an enemy unbound by rules has required moral, legal and practical trade-offs that his speeches did not envision.”

Maybe not. But then with the famous exception of Winston Churchill on warning Britain on the eve of Dunkirk that he had “nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat,” politicians’ speeches almost never do.

Based upon interviews with three dozen current and former White House aides, the Times depicts the president as a cool realist who “approves lethal action without hand-wringing,” using his “lawyering skills…to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda—even when it comes to killing an American cleric [Anwar al-Awlaki] in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was ‘an easy one.’”

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2012 The National Memo
  • Revcarrie

    The Drones are saving lives and much different than invading a whole country. If Pakistan was really co-operating with us against these terrorists, would we even have to invade and get our target with a drone? Yes there are going to be deaths of those who choose to be taken hostage for these cowards who would do us harm. I feel our President is brave and will get the job done. History has already proven his worth. His own prediential history will do it in the future. Elect even one Republican in 2012 and we will all pay a very dear price. Democrats all the way! Yes, even a few Dems will need to face one term only but it will be better than having everything taken away from us with the Republicans.

  • William Deutschlander

    The Republicans are against Obama since he has developed a way forward that does not depend on the GOP WAR MACHINE, with no bid contracts and lucrative defense industry DIVIDEND PAYMENTS for the UBER WEALTHY, from the taxes paid by the working class and poor!

    • devilindetail

      Actually, Obama is supporting a WAR MACHINE. It is just a different type of war machine. Obama has not cut foreign military bases around the world. He has not cut investments in research to find better ways to kill people. He has not reduced investments in new technology like drones, and stealth technology, but expanded it. He has openly supported everything Israel has done, and provided Israel more military weaponary to continue to do what it wishes.

      War is only a last resort when those in positions of power see military force as an undesirable last option. When leaders see power and force as a means to an end, that can be used as easily and freely as any other option at their disposal and with less risk to US lives, guess what they use it more freely and more often. We now have drone strikes in Yemen as well as Pakistan, just as there are drone strikes in Gaza. As the “extremist” element expands there will be more drone strikes in other areas of the world. It doesn’t really matter who pays for it, that investment in power and force will always be a losing proposition.

      • nomaster

        Absolutely right, the more we interfere the more the problem grows and the harder to find the solution

        • DurdyDawg

          Learn from the lesson of the war on drugs.. How many years? How many billions? How many holes have been plugged and how much weaker is the drug cartel..?

  • devilindetail

    No, you cannot negotiate with religious extremists because they see the world in absolutes — we are good and you are evil. However, drone attacks do not solve the problem, they merely aggravate it by drawing more people into the conflict.

    The US is not winning converts in foreign countries, and without public support the US has no hope of encouraging any positive change. When the US left Iraq, we left it to sectarian violence. When we leave Afghanistan, the Pakistani support for the Taliban will likely lead to years of continued fighting and instability. Yemen is already destabilized and likely to remain that way. The problem is, drone strikes do not solve problems, they merely aggravate a bad situation that already exists. They add to the fear, hate and anger that already pervades the area, they don’t lessen it. Anyone who thinks you can “solve or address” religious extremism by imposing your own equally radical extremism on the problem has much to learn. The US has killed hundreds of extremists with drones and all we are no closer to achieving peace and stability than when we started.

    One must offer “alternatives” to extremism, not the opposite “extremism” as the solution. All drone strikes do is impose the opposite “extremism” and between the two extremes innocent people in the middle get killed. What do you think is going to happen by our fueling more hate, fear and anger? If people can’t even see, meet or know the people behind the drone strikes fueling their anger, guess who they support — the religious extremists on the ground. At least they know who they are.

    The way to fight extremism is with solutions, with opportunity for people, with hope — not bombs. People embrace those who give them a reason to believe in something better, not a different kind of hatred. Until we learn that simple lesson, we will spend countless billions adding to, instead of rectifying the problems we face in the world.

  • Drones are better than troops on ground In full scale war lots more innocents would die . Obama is tough on our enemies Bush ? he just gave up Obama did not Bin laden / 20 top al quada are DEAD US auto industry is alive 4 mil jobs created More to come Recovering from worst crash in 80 yrs takes time Bagger run GOP is fighting to tax -cuts-debt- wars- deregulation- greed- lies- Led to edge of a long deep depression
    US will never be liked in middle east & some other parts of the world
    SO what Many of them are savages Let them fight for their own countries.
    WE can help but NO troops on ground
    Its Not worth it

    • devilindetail

      No war is good, but anytime you decide to go to war, you need to expedite it, not prolong it. The longer it last, the more you encourage hate, fear and anger that war always produces. and prevent rebuilding. I would rather war last the least time possible, not carry out a surrogate war over an extended time frame.

      Excusing our actions by suggesting the US will never be liked, and that many in the ME are savages is merely a means to deflect responsibility for any problems — its their fault, not ours. Actually, part of the original concern was about the US military presence in the ME region and its purpose. Guess what, we have expanded our US military presence in the ME region, not contracted it making ME extremist concerns that much greater, not less. Meanwhile, our drone strikes just serve to make their point and enhance their recruitment.

  • daffodilly

    Do some people just assume that if we sacrifice enough of our people or our allies that “shazzam” everyone in the world is going to love us? No. There are a lot of people who just want to kill us. And by us, I mean you who are reading this as well as I who am writing it. They don’t feel any need to know me or you, the children in my family or your’s, my friends or your’s. Their leaders convince them it’s good and righteous to die while killing our innocents. Why don’t they believe we are good and righteous for killing them? One day, when humans are far more evolved than now, there may be total peace and respect for each and every one of us. ‘Til then, we’d better open our eyes and play the hand that’s dealt us. And, be very thankful we have leaders who realize it’s not good and righteous to kill, but it’s a hard hard decision that must be made and action that must be carried out.

  • Drones are definately the way to go. Great job President Obama! When Obama’s plans are not overridden & filibustered by the Republicans in Congress — he gets a lot done!



    Why are the American Taliban Republican genitalia police so concerned about what happens to foreign Taliban towel head terrorists?

  • nomaster

    I believe that in the light of war the drone is a very useful tool for the accomplishment of the necessary missions with minimal loss of life to our military people. Yet there does exist a great degree of collateral loss and destruction to others. I however do no like the idea that they are beginning to be employed here in America as spy tools for control of our own ciitizens. We as Soverign American Citizens under a constitution that protects our lives and rights must never allow an intrusive, controlling government to impinge upon these rights. To preserve our dear liberty we must remain ever diligent in our pursuit of our freedoms and the preservation of our constitution at a time that it seems our government and our police are seeking ever so much more to curtail these freedoms by the new control technologies for spying and gathering information on everyone. As a Liberterian there is nothing more sacred than our freedom. Our lives, our existence is nothing without this freedom. We are a nation born of revolution in the wake of British tyranny. The drive to fascism in this new world order is ever present.

  • Our Forefathers believed in “Protectionism” as they did “republicanism”. As they gave birth too, Our Constitution and Bill of Rights. For the well-being “ Of We the People and all men are created equal”. It has nothing to do with what is defined as the “Republican Party today! Let alone Christian and Conservative values.
    We rejoice in the saving of Our Jobs and the revitalizing of the Auto Industry today. As we feel the remorse and dismay in the manufacturing and fabricating of War and Out Sourcing for foreign profiteering. We truly see the push and shove laid against Our President. As we see a simple truth in all of this in the Realm of Bigoted Ideology. It may always be the deformation and demonizing of the “one percent” that will exploit and manipulate the well-being of the common good and honest living. As we see it for what it is today. The premeditated evil of “Overt”!