AEI’s vice president of foreign and defense policy studies Danielle Pletka weighs in on the death of Osama bin Laden, one year later, as a part of the Enterprise blog’s latest symposium.
Many of us at AEI have criticized the president for failing to support the war in Afghanistan, for failing to make the case for the fight, for failing to make the case for the war to the American people. Well, last night, on the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, the president did his best to make that case:
“… let us remember why we came here. It was here, in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden established a safe-haven for his terrorist organization. It was here, in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda brought new recruits, trained them, and plotted acts of terror. It was here, from within these borders, that al Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.”
Gone was the claim–made (incredibly) the day before yesterday to a union audience that “It is time we take some of the money that we spent on wars, use half of it to pay down our debt and then use the rest of it to do some nation-building right here at home.”
Let’s reckon out the ticktock here:
Day one: Obama cuts a political ad in which he suggests that only he is man enough to have ordered the SEALs to hit bin Laden. Romney, he suggests, wouldn’t have made the call.
Day two: Obama doubles down on his accusation at a presser with the Japanese prime minister.
Day three: Obama heads to Afghanistan to ink a post-conflict deal with Afghan president Hamid Karzai, hammer home the notion that he’s the commander with the cojones to take it to al Qaeda.
Unfortunately, the man who did the right thing (order bin Laden killed, commit to Afghanistan, make the case for staying the course) cannot be separated from the “despicable,” “sleazy” politician who waved the bloody shroud this week. (And those epithets were from the Left.) Ultimately, that’s the problem with Barack Obama the president. He cannot separate himself from Barack Obama the campaigner. And he should not expect that the American people will, either.
Should we fight the war and win (a word anathema to Obama)? Or should we “nation build at home”? Should we make the case to the Afghan people, to the Taliban, al Qaeda, and to our nation, that America does not “end war,” we defeat the enemy? Or should we harp on exit strategies and cut corners in battle? Should we preen about a clean “kill” or should we quietly take the battle to the rest of al Qaeda? For the next six months, those choices will be Obama’s alone. He appears to believe he can, Janus-like, speak as commander and campaigner without consequence.
More than a few have compared Obama’s Afghan trip to George W. Bush’s dreadful “Mission Accomplished” speech. But they’re wrong. The Afghan trip was the right call; everything else was the disgrace.