The War Must Be Obama’s Top Priority

January 8th, 2010 at 12:53 am | 46 Comments |

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The media are sure to laud President Obama for forthrightly addressing, earlier today, the intelligence failures that caused the Christmas Day terrorist attack on Flight 253 in Detroit.  Shortly after the president’s speech, in fact, the New York Times published a laudatory article praising Obama for ordering

a series of steps to improve the government’s ability to collect, share, analyze and act on intelligence of terrorist threats. [This to address] significant shortcomings in national security…

‘We are at war,’ Mr. Obama said in remarks from the White House State Dining Room…

The president said the missteps were not the fault of one individual or one agency. He took responsibility for the failures, saying: ‘The buck stops with me.’

This is all well and good — and also largely irrelevant. President Obama, after all, has mastered the rhetorical arts. He seems always to say the right words — or at least the words that our elites want to hear and are sure to swoon over. (I myself am far less enamored of the president’s rhetoric, as I’ve explained here at FrumForum and elsewhere.)

But the president’s problem is not one of rhetoric per se; it is one of leadership. Simply put, the War on Terror requires constant vigilance and attention. This is not a war you can commute to or conduct only half-heartedly, as General David Petraeus has explained.

Yet, rarely has Obama used the bully pulpit to talk about Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and the Jihadists. His interests and his passions clearly lie elsewhere — with healthcare, and with a fundamental strengthening of the state’s role vis-à-vis the individual. That’s why he’s spent most of his time and effort — with Congress, the public, and the media — focused on healthcare.

If the president’s priority is “comprehensive healthcare reform,” then this makes total sense. But if we truly are at war — and Obama acknowledges that we are — then the president’s priorities are simply wrong and misplaced. He ought to use his rhetorical gifts and the power of the bully pulpit to win the war, not micromanage and bureaucratize the American healthcare system.

In short, the president now says some right words, but his actions betray him.

This is a real problem because bureaucracy responds to political leadership. Bureaucracy takes it cues from political leadership. Bureaucracy senses what the commander-in-chief thinks is important and acts accordingly — and if it doesn’t hear the president talk much about the War on Terror, then it draws the obvious conclusion: The War on Terror isn’t that important to this commander-in-chief and his administration.

Consequently, bureaucratic laxness sets in and foot-dragging occurs. Human frailty and human error rise to the fore. The fundamental changes that are integral to true and necessary reform never occur — or if they do, they occur belatedly, sporadically, and intermittently. The system, at its core, never really changes, only its outward most manifestations.

Something very much like this has happened with U.S. intelligence agencies — which is why the U.S. National Security Adviser, General James L. Jones, said people will feel “a certain shock” after reading the White House’s initial account of the Christmas Day terrorist attack.

But it’s really not that shocking when you consider that the War on Terror simply hasn’t been this administration’s top priority. Indeed, as Heritage Foundation analyst James Carafano has observed:

It is not enough to blame the system and human error. There will always be human failures and system failures… The reality is that the system itself isn’t broken. It is that folks inside the Executive Branch did not use the system appropriately.

Seen in this context, the intelligence agencies should not be apologizing to President Obama; President Obama should be apologizing to the intelligence agencies — for giving the War on Terror short shrift vis-à-vis healthcare and other domestic issues.

Yet, the Deputy National Security Adviser, John Brennan, told reporters today that he apologized to the president. “I told the president today: I let him down. I told him I will do better; we will do better as a team.”

Bully for Brennan for accepting responsibility for the shocking Christmas Day failure — and near disaster — in the War on Terror; however, Obama is right: The buck stops with him as commander-in-chief.

That’s why, if he’s serious about winning the war, Obama will suspend his push for a secret healthcare deal and demand that Congress start over with truly bipartisan healthcare legislation. The attempt to ram through Congress, along a strict party-line vote, an extreme and contentious bill has proven extraordinarily divisive and politically polarizing. It has divided America and Americans at a time when we need much greater unity of purpose and resolve.

Worse yet, healthcare bureaucratization is a serious distraction from the most important task at hand, which is to reverse America’s downward trajectory and to win the War on Terror.

Yet, Obama typically suggests the opposite: He suggests that the War on Terror is the distraction from healthcare and other domestic priorities. Thus his speech at West Point, where he said that “broader consideration[s],” including economic factors and “competition within the global economy,” limit America’s ability to protect the national interest abroad.

“We simply can’t afford to ignore the price of these wars,” Obama lamented. But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan account for little more than one percent of America’s Gross Domestic Product. Yet, in Obama’s mind, that’s somehow too exorbitant a cost to bear to “assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

This must stop. It’s high past time for the president to acknowledge that winning the War on Terror is his most important, overriding responsibility. Everything else — including so-called comprehensive healthcare reform — is secondary.

Obama also must use his great rhetorical gifts to rally the American people — and the world — to confront the fundamental crisis of our time, which is international terrorism and the Jihadist threat.

This means immediately giving a series of speeches about Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, radical Islam, and the overall War on Terror. It means pounding the bully pulpit more consistently — and not just when it’s politically convenient and politically necessary — to tame, reform and refocus the bureaucracy. It means recognizing and seizing the historical moment to do what must be done. It means, Mr. President, embracing your role as a wartime commander-in-chief.

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46 Comments so far ↓

  • Danny_K

    You guys really never get tired of politicizing terrorism, do you?

  • John Guardiano

    Danny_K,
    The charge of “politicizing terrorism” is a facile and glib statement that sounds good and has obvious political appeal, but what does it mean, exactly? Do you mean to suggest that we shouldn’t question our political leaders and their public policies? Do you mean to suggest that we shouldn’t argue and discuss this administration’s (and any administration’s really) approach to the War on Terror?

    If our politics shouldn’t be about big and important issues like war and peace, life and death, freedom or fear, then what should it be about? What issues would you prefer to argue and discuss?

    It seems to me that we Americans ought to be vigorously discussing the War on Terror and how best to win it. Don’t you agree?

    More likely, your charge of “politicizing terrorism” is a thinly veiled attempt to protect your political allies from politically inconvenient questioning and scrutiny. That may be smart politics for you and your political allies; however, it doesn’t help the country much. Moreover, stifling political discussion and debate is profoundly un-American and counterproductive.

    Regards,
    John

  • sdspringy

    I have no need to place blame on Obama concerning the failure to detect the Underware Bomber. Obama nor Napolitano have any direct impact on how a low level CIA or State Dept. official performs their duty. The overall system to detect terrorist activity is in place and that gigantic machine is not swayed by Presidential teleprompting.

    Obama’s real affect in this war is perception. How our enemies perceive our will to fight, and our desire to win. The fear this perception places in their hearts as to what our response maybe to their attempts of terror which have been constant for 25 years. Obama has not provided any perception of resolve, offering instead the hand of friendship and understanding. Criticizing American policy more than American enemies.

    These enemies have no desire for our understanding just our destruction. They will continue, as we see, to kill any American, anywhere on the planet. Their justification resides in their ideology and they have no fear or respect for a man who bows before them.

  • rbottoms

    This means immediately giving a series of speeches about Iraq, Afghanistan, radical Islam, and the overall War on Terror. It means pounding the bully pulpit more consistently — and not just when it’s politically convenient and politically necessary — to tame, reform and refocus the bureaucracy. It means recognizing and seizing the historical moment to do what must be done. It means, Mr. President, embracing your role as a wartime commander-in-chief.

    Mr. President, those 40,000 fresh troops you’re sending to Afghanistan are a waste. What you need to day is write terrorism on a blackboard 40,000 times. Like Bart Simpson.

    That’ll show ‘em.

  • Kanzeon

    John Guardiano:

    By politicizing terrorism, I would mean this: making insubstantial and subjective criticisms of Obama’s style, to divide people rather than evaluating the facts. One thing you do know is “facile” and “glib.”

    It’s all you ever offer, and your comments don’t make any sense. Obama standing in front of a teleprompter and saying “war on terror” 100 times won’t affect AQ. It won’t affect the intelligence system, or at least it shouldn’t. It’s positively comic to suggest that the President runs secret agencies via public speeches, yet that is what you seem to be saying.

    I know this is hard for you to understand, but it is also possible for large institutions to have more than one priority. Ask Steve Jobs whether his priority is the iphone, the Mac, or the tablet. Most Presidents have not only a domestic agenda and a foreign policy agenda, but several largely co-equal priorities within each of those agendas.

    Seriously, are you suggesting that health care – which has been entirely a legislative function, with Obama keeping a fairly low profile – conflicts with running the intelligence agencies – which is an executive function? It would appear (I know you think you hid this well) that your real objective is to launch a new attack to derail health care reform and other aspects of his domestic agenda, because the idea that he can’t, at this point, let the Congress reconcile two bills and run the CIA at the same time is so incredibly dumb that there must be an agenda.

    To make this explicit – you are politicizing terror by criticizing for the sake of damaging Obama and derailing his domestic policies, not the sake of the nation’s security. Were it otherwise, you would offer legitimate criticisms to help the nation, instead of taking facile and glib political shots.

    Sometimes I’m at a loss with you guys. Perhaps you are just unacquanted with the notion of “facts.” Here is an article about Obama and terror, containing facts:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/17/magazine/17Terror-t.html?ref=us&pagewanted=all

    Things like this:

    —The C.I.A. has launched 53 such strikes in Obama’s first year in office, more than during Bush’s entire presidency, according to data compiled by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann at the New America Foundation.

    —Michael Hayden, the last C.I.A. director under Bush, was willing to say publicly what others would not. “There is a continuum from the Bush administration, particularly as it changed in the second administration as circumstances changed, and the Obama administration,” Hayden told me. James Jay Carafano, a homeland-security expert at the Heritage Foundation, was blunter. “I don’t think it’s even fair to call it Bush Lite,” he said. “It’s Bush. It’s really, really hard to find a difference that’s meaningful and not atmospheric. You see a lot of straining on things trying to make things look repackaged, but they’re really not that different.”

    Be a lightweight hack if you please: just don’t divide Americans on national security.

  • BoolaBoola

    The first step in winning the War on Terror is to define what it MEANS to “win”.

    How will we know when we have won?

    There is no answer.

    The War on Terror is a stupid fantasy.

  • BoolaBoola

    Really, I expect more intelligence from David Frum than to let one of his writers use a stupid-person’s no-nothing phrase like “war on terror”. Those three words together have no meaning!

    You want to know what’s worse than terror? The passage of time is worse–it kills EVERYONE! So let’s wage a War on Time. Makes just as much sense as a war on terror.

    It’s not even a fantasy! It’s a nonsense-phrase. It’s like a “war on iggety-wiggety”.

  • franco 2

    Reading Obama’s speech carefully, something strikes me as odd. Obama is using the war rhetoric to solicit political support or, perhaps more accurately, blunt any and all criticism.

    Obama uttered the phrase “we are at war” But what immediately precedes that statement:

    “And while passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let’s be clear about what this moment demands. We are at war.”

    Hmmmm. It doesn’t seem kosher for the President to be soliciting unity because we are at war. That should be a given. If and when we are not united, as in fact we have never been, it actually becomes partisan for a President to make this appeal.

    Here in the wrap-up of his speech…the whole point as it were:

    “And in this cause, every one of us — every American, every elected official — can do our part. Instead of giving into cynicism and division, let’s move forward with the confidence and optimism and unity that defines us as a people. For now is not a time for partisanship, it’s a time for citizenship — a time to come together and work together with the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands.”

    This is over the top. The juxtaposition of partisanship…citizenship. Citzenship is not the antonym of partisanship. Not even close, so I strongly object to this retoric.

    Next we have the phrase “unity that defines us as a people” Huh?

    I looked for similar quotes from Bush on this, and found only two oblique appeals to unity, and no appeals to stop or suspend “partisanship” in 8 years!

    Americans are not, and have never been, defined this way. Sometimes we have been united (mostly) most of the time we have not. In any case, the American people have never been defined as united, NOR SHOULD THEY BE. This is scandalous. It sounds vaguely fascistic to me.

    We are individuals who each act through our representatives according to the Constitution of the United States of America.

    So, make no mistake, it is OBAMA who is politicizing this.

  • Kanzeon

    BoolaBoola:

    ‘How will we know when we have won? There is no answer.”

    The war on terror generally refers to stopping attacks on civilians by radical Muslims. We are winning when terror cells are elminated and attacks reduced or eliminated. That’s the answer.

    Back in the middle of the Cold War, the possibility that the government of the Soviet Union might fall seemed remote. But for that event, there might have been disagreement over whether we were winning or when to reduce efforts or declare the war won. Countries have waged war against guerilla movements: are those only won when the last guerilla fighter is dead? Some wars go on for decades.

    Whether something is a “war” isn’t determined by whether everyone agrees to the answer of at what point it is won, or whether vicctory can be defined.

  • sdm

    Mr. Giordano’s ability to be discordantly partisan no matter the topic has become tiresome, not least because he does not give President Obama a pass while giving the CIA and other intelligence agencies big wet kisses.

    The CIA yet again dropped the ball with the Undiebomber. In fact, if it were a major-league baseball team, its record in its 100 biggest games would be something like 5 and 95. That’s right, a mere five wins in a 63-year history, which is as compelling an argument as any for digging a big hole down in Langley, Virginia, and burying this sad sack and obsolete agency once and forever.

    A quick review of some of the CIA’s stunning successes:

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the 1950 Chinese invasion of Korea.

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the 1959 takeover of Cuba by Fidel Castro.

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the 1963 Cuban missile crisis.

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the strength of and support for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong in the 1960s.

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the 1979 ouster of the Shah, Iranian revolution and rise of the ayatollahs.

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the coming of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the global Islamic jihad in the mid-1990s.

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the 1998 explosion of a nuclear bomb by India, which remade the balance of power in South Asia.

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the 9/11 attacks.

    * Failing ascertain that that the pre-2003 invasion claims of Saddam Hussein that he had WMD were false. (The State Department’s tiny intelligence unit got it right. And was ignored.)

    And my all-time fave: Learning that the Soviet Union had collapsed and the Berlin Wall was coming down on CNN.

    Your reply, Mr. G?

  • teabag

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the 1979 ouster of the Shah, Iranian revolution and rise of the ayatollah.

    They didn’t do that because the CIA was behind the coup.

    * Failing to anticipate and warn about the coming of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the global Islamic jihad in the mid-1990s.

    They didn’t do that because the CIA were the ones training and equipping Bin Laden and crew. He is a USA made product.

    Fixed

  • Martyb

    Kanzeon –

    Bravo, sir (or ma’am), Bravo.

  • sinz54

    sdspringy: Obama has not provided any perception of resolve, offering instead the hand of friendship and understanding.
    That is absolutely true.

    Obama hoped that by reaching out to the Islamic world, he could isolate the radicals and the terrorists from mainstream Muslims.

    So far, that has not worked.

    No one should be surprised. The Brits have tried numerous “outreach” programs in their own country with their own Muslim immigrants–but they continue to suffer from terrorist attacks like the 7/7 subway bombing.

    The Muslim community has a foreign-policy agenda. And it is this: Everybody who’s not a Muslim should get the hell out of all the lands that used to compromse the former Islamic caliphates. That means Israel and Spain should close their governments and replace them with Islamic ones; and needless to say, all those “infidel troops” should get out of every Islamic country.

    That’s all they care about.

    But that’s unacceptable to the West. We’re not going to hand the Jews over to yet another group of professional exterminators.

    So the war goes on.

  • sinz54

    teabag: the CIA were the ones training and equipping Bin Laden and crew. He is a USA made product.
    Absolutely false.

    You’ve been absorbing too much Leftist propaganda.

    The CIA did arm and train Islamists to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, but not Osama bin Laden and his gang. They knew of him, and may well have even approved of him–but they never supported him actively.

    You Leftists are so quick to believe the worst about your own government. You’ve seen only the evil of the government since the 1960s.

    You’ve never gotten over Vietnam. It’s in your DNA, you transmit it in your sperm and eggs to the next generation of Leftists, and so on ad infinitum.

  • sinz54

    Mr. Guardiano: He ought to use his rhetorical gifts and the power of the bully pulpit to win the war
    President Obama needs to explain to the American people what his strategy is to “disrupt and defeat” al-Qaeda and their allied terrorist networks. He has never done that.

    We know what Bush’s strategy was: Bush believed that Muslims turned to terrorism because they had been misled by evil leaders. And so, implanting more democracy in the Muslim world would lead to a plurality of diverse voices, some of whom would be against terrorism. And we can take stock of how well or poorly that worked.

    It’s clear by now that Obama doesn’t care about spreading democracy in the world. He has done nothing to help either the people of Iran or the people of Darfur. Even worse, he has said little about either of these.

    Susan Rice has spoken about “dignity promotion” in the developing world. What the heck does that mean in terms of specific policies? And does Obama intend to follow through on those?

  • Kanzeon

    sinz:

    You’re right. The Reagan administration armed Saddam Hussein and supported the Taliban. They only approved of Osama bin Laden.

    Only a crazy leftist who hates America would think it was somehow possible that the United States actually armed Osama bin Laden. We have much better judgment than that.

  • balconesfault

    It’s clear by now that Obama doesn’t care about spreading democracy in the world. He has done nothing to help either the people of Iran or the people of Darfur. Even worse, he has said little about either of these.

    It is clear that Obama doesn’t believe that democracy can be airlifted in like food supplies or medicine, the way Bush did. I’m often reminded of the line from the old Tom Lehrer song:

    they’ve got to be protected, all their rights respected
    till somebody we like can be elected

    Obama’s Nobel speech laid out both his belief that “peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear.”, and his belief that human rights are not best accomplished by invasion, or simply by sanctions, but by engagement. His critics have been jumping on him because in 11 months he hasn’t created huge changes in our adversaries. That seems a fairly juvenile attitude.

  • teabag

    As his unclassified CIA biography states, bin Laden left Saudi Arabia to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan after Moscow’s invasion in 1979. By 1984, he was running a front organization known as Maktab al-Khidamar – the MAK – which funneled money, arms and fighters from the outside world into the Afghan war.

    What the CIA bio conveniently fails to specify (in its unclassified form, at least) is that the MAK was nurtured by Pakistan’s state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the CIA’s primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow’s occupation.

    By no means was Osama bin Laden the leader of Afghanistan’s mujahedeen. His money gave him undue prominence in the Afghan struggle, but the vast majority of those who fought and died for Afghanistan’s freedom – like the Taliban regime that now holds sway over most of that tortured nation – were Afghan nationals.

    Yet the CIA, concerned about the factionalism of Afghanistan made famous by Rudyard Kipling, found that Arab zealots who flocked to aid the Afghans were easier to “read” than the rivalry-ridden natives. While the Arab volunteers might well prove troublesome later, the agency reasoned, they at least were one-dimensionally anti-Soviet for now. So bin Laden, along with a small group of Islamic militants from Egypt, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestinian refugee camps all over the Middle East, became the “reliable” partners of the CIA in its war against Moscow.

  • LauraNo

    The War Must Be Obama’s Priority. What kind of person would think that either terrorism or the two real wars we are engaged in are not the US president’s top priority? We need a name for this kind of attitude…I’m so partisan I can’t think straight…How about plain old “Derangement Syndrome”?

    As for Obama’s leadership, I think you’re having a tough time adjusting to change. His worldview and the tone he wants to set for foreign policy will take years to implement but requires treating the terrorists as they should be treated. As a threat that we take seriously but that doesn’t ‘terrorize’ us. We are much more than a quivering mass of weenies. At least, most of us out here are.

    I wouldn’t believe someone could even attempt to tie health care reform to the fake ‘war on terror’ but you surprised me here. There is more going on in this country than just efforts to prevent attacks. People are dying for lack of health insurance, for example. A whole lot more people in one year than have ever died in all the terrorist attacks combined. I take issue with your assertion that terrorism is the most important task at hand. It is one of many. If we really wanted to wage on war on terrorism, we would stop scaring people and point out how the rest of the world manages to live their lives amidst the very same threat while still dealing with their other issues and problems. Those countries are winning the war on terrorism, as they are not terrorized.

    I’d also ask you, since you consider 1% of GDP to be a small price to pay for waging war in countries from which terrorism doesn’t even emanate anymore, would you consider that same 1% a small price to pay to ensure none of our citizens goes without health care?

    Any time I see an opinion citing Heritage Foundation, I know what to expect. Partisan nonsense which needs to rely on the excuser’s-of-conservatism’s-weaknesses even to take a stance.

  • Mandos

    No one should be surprised. The Brits have tried numerous “outreach” programs in their own country with their own Muslim immigrants–but they continue to suffer from terrorist attacks like the 7/7 subway bombing.

    The Muslim community has a foreign-policy agenda. And it is this: Everybody who’s not a Muslim should get the hell out of all the lands that used to compromse the former Islamic caliphates. That means Israel and Spain should close their governments and replace them with Islamic ones; and needless to say, all those “infidel troops” should get out of every Islamic country.

    As a Muslim myself—and a leftist, so I hit the bifecta here—I am here to tell you that there is no one unified Muslim foreign-policy agenda. At least, it never comes up at The Meetings. Having been to Spain, I can tell you that I didn’t even lift a finger to bring the Caliphate back there—even when I toured the Spanish Parliament. I’ve never met anyone else who has.

  • Mandos

    But the basic question is: if the goal of the War On Abstract Concept is to end reifications of Abstract Concept (ie, blowing up planes), how effective is it likely to be? Does attacking Afghanistan stop the small, loosely connected set of people from operating out of Yemen? Does attacking Yemen stop them from operating out of [insert country here]—without being a lever for its governing faction to use US assistance to suppress opposition? Does the high false-positive rate of *any* form of airport security measure *not* create a situation in which it is possible for an amateur suicide bomber to slip through the cracks (say, the Swedish grandmother they will inevitably recruit when they find out that you’re not profiling Swedish grandmothers)?

    If none of these things are true, what strategy would work? I have some ideas, but I doubt any of you are ready to hear it, almost by definition.

  • COProgressive

    Johnny Boy the political hack wrote;
    “He ought to use his rhetorical gifts and the power of the bully pulpit to win the war,”

    First, this post is pure BS. It’s one of the worst hack jobs I’ve read. All through the post Johnny talks about “win the war” on TERROR. Well, Johnny, how does one “win” a war on an emotion? How could President Obama use his bully pulpit to kill the emotion of TERROR that is being thrown in the face of Americans not only by Al Qaeda and the Jihadists, but by the Neo-Nitwit wing of the Republican party as they have joined together in a symbiotic relationship with a common cause. What rhetoric or “right words” would sooth the anger of those who would do us harm? What rhetoric or “right words” should the President use to quell the fears of Americans after having seen and heard the Neo-Nitwits on television and heard the Neo-Nitwits on radio proclaiming that the President is only “pretending” to fight this war on an uncontroled emotion and is leaving us all less safe?

    Second, the notion that this “war” on emotion should be “Obama’s Top Priority” is ludicrous. The President is at the top of the chain of command in not only the defense of OUR country, but at the top of the chain on the economy, on policy making, on any number of other government initiatives. Your “war on emotion” is but one of The President’s priorities. We spend over $500 Billion dollars a year on “Defense” of out nation, we spend countless Billions more on Intelligence. You would think that with all that money spent, we would have an adequate defensive infrastructure to thwart most attacks, and they do. Is it perfect? No. Do we do away with it because one 23 year old boy managed to get his bomb packed undies on a plane bound for the USA? No. Should the President expect the multi Billion dollar “Defense” infrastructure to do its job? Yes. Could they do it better? Yes. Will firing a head of an agency make everyone involved in the “Defense” of OUR country work harder and concentrate on their work more? I doubt it.

    The answer is you bring all the involved agencies together and have them report where the cracks in the system are and get them fixed. Have all the involved agencies review their policies and improve their linkages to other agencies to speed the flow of intelligence for all to share. Then come out and tell the American people that while there was a screw-up this time, and that we were able to dodge a bullet the system will be improved and there is no reason for Americans to live in TERROR.

    Third, while this post’s title was about the “war on terror”, it really wasn’t about that at all. It was a thinly veiled swipe at Healthcare reform. You say, Johnny Boy, “Worse yet, healthcare bureaucratization is a serious distraction from the most important task at hand, which is to reverse America’s downward trajectory and to win the War on Terror.” and “That’s why, if he’s serious about winning the war, Obama will suspend his push for a secret healthcare deal and demand that Congress start over with truly bipartisan healthcare legislation.”

    You are trying to use the “war on emotion” as a spear to kill healthcare reform. You are intimating that healthcare reform is the reason that the “Undies Bomber” was allowed to board the flight, like everyone in the defense infrastructure was busy watching the healthcare debate with their feet up on the desk watching CSPAN and not doing their jobs. By killing the bill and starting over, all those lazy CIA agents and National Security personel will turn CSPAN off and get back to the job of defending OUR country. That’s just pure BS! Nice try…..

  • balconesfault

    “That’s why, if he’s serious about winning the war, Obama will suspend his push for a secret healthcare deal and demand that Congress start over with truly bipartisan healthcare legislation.”

    Is it legit to ask whether by spending the last 10 months tying up Obama’s agenda in blocking healthcare refore, that Republicans in Congress are weakening our country by forcing Obama to divert his attention from national security?

    Nope. That would be just as stupid as the argument posed.

  • John Guardiano

    Peanut Gallery… er, I mean Commentators! :)

    Some interesting, substantive and colorful comments here, which I do welcome and appreciate — even if we disagree. Busy now, but will try to respond later or tomorrow.

    Regards,
    John

  • mlindroo

    John Guardiano wrote:
    > That’s why, if he’s serious about winning the war,
    > Obama will suspend his push for a secret healthcare deal
    > and demand that Congress start over with truly bipartisan healthcare legislation.
    > The attempt to ram through Congress, along a strict party-line vote,
    > an extreme and contentious bill has proven extraordinarily divisive and politically polarizing.
    > It has divided America and Americans at a time when we need much greater unity of
    > purpose and resolve.

    This argument would sound a lot more persuasive if George W. Bush, Tom DeLay et al. had not pursued equally cynical and divisive policies while THEY were in charge… For example, why push hard for massive tax cuts for the rich at the same time as the country was preparing for war against Iraq?

    MARCU$

  • balconesfault

    This argument would sound a lot more persuasive if George W. Bush, Tom DeLay et al. had not pursued equally cynical and divisive policies while THEY were in charge

    Actually, that raises a good question – in 2005, conditions in Afghanistan AND Iraq both deteriorated badly. Meanwhile, Bush spent much of the first few months of that year campaigning hard for a privatization of part of our Social Security Trust Fund. By this logic it’s rational to conclude that the declining security conditions in both wars during that time were directly attributable to Bush being distracted while trying to push through an “extraordinarily divisive and politically polarizing” agenda.

  • trajan

    John, why do you bother blogging on this God foresaken site? You must be some kind of masochist. It’s not a “peanut gallery”, it’s a bunch of morons. “Politicizing terrorism”! “The war on terror is a stupid fantasy.” Talk about arguing with idiots.

  • mlindroo

    Trajan wrote:
    > “The war on terror is a stupid fantasy.” Talk about arguing with idiots.

    Actually, when it comes to terrorism, Republicans need to do two things. One, grow a spine. Two, testicular fortitude.. There have been approx. ONE HUNDRED MILLION flights since late 1999, FOUR of which have been targeted by terrorists (plus two miserable failures after 9/11).

    Funny how the Bush years were full of macho swagger, talk about “girlie men” etc. yet guess who’s panicking every time there’s a failed terrorist plot?

    MARCU$

  • rbottoms

    But Turkey Lurky says the sky is falling!

  • mlindroo

    > He ought to use his rhetorical gifts and the power of the bully pulpit to win the war,
    > not micromanage and bureaucratize the American healthcare system.

    > In short, the president now says some right words, but his actions betray him.

    > This is a real problem because bureaucracy responds to political leadership.
    > Bureaucracy takes it cues from political leadership.
    > Bureaucracy senses what the commander-in-chief thinks is important and acts
    > accordingly — and if it doesn’t hear the president talk much about the War on Terror,
    > then it draws the obvious conclusion: The War on Terror isn’t that important to this
    > commander-in-chief and his administration.

    > Consequently, bureaucratic laxness sets in and foot-dragging occurs.
    > Human frailty and human error rise to the fore.

    What an utter load of BS, from start to finish.

    Does John Guardiano feel that, for example, the George W. Bush Administration should not have done something about the banking crisis last year… After all, the measures taken are certainly dismissed as “divisive micromanagement” by a very significant part of the (tea party attending) population. Why the hell is TARP etc. OK while health care reform isn’t? Conservatives hate both which of course means they “undermine national unity” while making it harder to win the global war on terror.

    Guardiano seems to be a deeply insecure person who constantly needs encouragement and stirring speeches from his Commander in Chief. We have his previous column whining about Obama’s West Point speech, which supposedly left the brave men and women of the armed forces “demoralized.” Boo hoo!! As if professional soldiers and antiterrorism officials were not strong willed and conscientious enough to do the right thing!

    MARCU$

  • trajan

    mlindroo pontificated:

    Actually, when it comes to terrorism, Republicans need to do two things. One, grow a spine. Two, testicular fortitude.. There have been approx. ONE HUNDRED MILLION flights since late 1999, FOUR of which have been targeted by terrorists (plus two miserable failures after 9/11).

    Funny how the Bush years were full of macho swagger, talk about “girlie men” etc. yet guess who’s panicking every time there’s a failed terrorist plot?

    Completely incomprehensible. What did I tell you? Or maybe one of the morons (you know who you are so weigh in) can explain.

  • Mandos

    I thought mlindroo’s post was completely comprehensible and quite cogent. It quite correctly suggested that the threat from terrorism is actually extremely miniscule, by a simple look at the numbers.

  • trajan

    I’m not surprised.

  • Mandos

    Not surprised about what?

  • Danny_K

    I appreciate the polite response, Mr G. I’ll give you a more explicit and less snarky response.

    I would like you to show me another wartime President who didn’t do anything else during the war. FDR? Coolidge? Abraham Lincoln, for pity’s sake? They all fought big-time wars and still took care of the country’s business. It’s only Obama who’s not allowed to do anything but fight a seemingly endless war. That’s why I call this ‘politicizing’ rather than honest critique.

  • BoolaBoola

    This idea that we should stop pushing health-care reform and focus on fighting terror is very wrong.

    The terrrorists’ goal is to bankrupt USA, right? Well if we don’t fix our health-care mess, IT will bankrupt USA and the terrorists will win. Our health-care non-system is causing THREE QUARTERS OF A MILLION bankruptcies in USA every year.

    The best thing we can do to stop terrorists from acheiving their goals is, pass health-care reform.

    Anyone who opposes health-care reform is FIGHTING FOR THE ENEMY in the war on terror.

    Anyone who votes against health-care reform is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and should be charged with treason.

  • athensboy

    With guys like John it will never be good enough, no matter how loud Obama yells about terrorists.John’s mind is already made up, Obama is not good enough to be his president.John is in the group of Hanitty and Rush that attack Obama 24/7 hoping something will stick. Maybe John thinks all this will make us forget what a horrible foreign policy president W was.All guys like John want to do is fight and kill and attack. Makes him feel like a real man. Yes John, lets attack some more countries, like were cowboys, cuz you know, it will make you feel like a man.Neo cons are a joke, and so are you.

  • COProgressive

    Mandos @ 32 wrote;
    “It quite correctly suggested that the threat from terrorism is actually extremely miniscule, by a simple look at the numbers.”

    Stephen Colbert had it right the other night when he said, and I’ll paraphase, “Do we mantain our liberties and freedoms and risk the slight possibility of attack, or do we give up all our liberties and freedoms and risk the slight possibility of attack?”

  • trajan

    Would you care to speculate on what Colbert would have said if he’d been a passenger on Flight 253?
    Maybe you should ask some of the passengers what they think. As far as “miniscule” is concerned, hey, there were only about 3,000 people killed on 9/11 and the population of the US is around 300 million so what’s the problem? You do the math genius. You’ll probably need a calculator.

  • rbottoms

    Would you care to speculate on what Colbert would have said if he’d been a passenger on Flight 253?
    Maybe you should ask some of the passengers what they think. As far as “miniscule” is concerned, hey, there were only about 3,000 people killed on 9/11 and the population of the US is around 300 million so what’s the problem? You do the math genius. You’ll probably need a calculator.

    By God if you can’t get the threat level to zero consider the entire military budget a waste of money!!

    You have a better chance of walking into a robbery at Seven-Eleven than being killed by Al Queada.

    When did the GOP become such a bunch of p***ys.

  • Mandos

    Answer: When they realized that scared and distracted people are also easier to pickpocket. (Same to some large extent for Democrats, but…)

  • Kanzeon

    mlindroo:

    “Actually, when it comes to terrorism, Republicans need to do two things. One, grow a spine. Two, testicular fortitude.”

    The Republicans aren’t any more afraid of terrorists than you are.

    I remember when people were very afraid – in the six months to year after September 11, 2001. What did they do? The stood behind the commander in chief. I remember those days well. I didn’t vote for Bush, and considered him completely inadequate for the job even without a major crisis. But, I looked around and saw this was the card that had been dealt us, and that we didn’t have any choice but to follow his lead.

    When people are afraid, when they feel beseiged, they they are at war, they tend to stand by their leaders.

    The problem has nothing to do with testicular fortitude.

  • jakester

    This guy could have been stopped using simple protocols 35 years old. Someone more than screwed up. Obama is president so the ball is in his court. He has to fix it or face the heat, not come up with gee whiz solutions for old fashioned incompetence or worse.

  • rbottoms

    He has to fix it or face the heat, not come up with gee whiz solutions for old fashioned incompetence or worse.

    If not who knows what might happen, we could lose a few thousand people in a single day. Who could ever support a leader who let that happen.

  • SFTor1

    It seems to me that the best two things the President could do to reduce the treat of terrorist attacks are a) to get involved in Palestine, and force the Israelis to back down from their relentless expansionism (where’s James Baker when you need him?), and b) deftly goose along the velvet revolution in Iran.

    We’ve tried the Republican approach. It got us into the mess we find ourselves in today.

  • mlindroo

    Trajan wrote:
    >Would you care to speculate on what Colbert would have said
    > if he’d been a passenger on Flight 253?
    > Maybe you should ask some of the passengers what they think.
    >As far as “miniscule” is concerned, hey, there were only about
    > 3,000 people killed on 9/11 and the population of the US is around
    > 300 million so what’s the problem?

    My point stands.
    Nate Silver points out the odds of being on a plane attacked by terrorists have been 1 in 10.5 million over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. While the threat is not negligible by any means, it is indeed comparatively minuscule which means Guardiano’s original post was way over the top.

    As President of the US, Obama is of course ultimately responsible and it’s good to hear him say the buck stops at this desk and there will be some reorganization (in contrast, GW Bush was very happy with CIA et.al. after 9/11 wasn’t he?). But the so-called “War on Terrorism” is NOT the single greatest threat/issue currently facing ordinary Americans. Anyone arguing otherwise is stupid, a spineless coward or both.

    MARCU$