It seems most Americans get a warm sense of security every time they hear that another high-ranking al-Qaeda member has been killed. This is exactly why President Obama has been flaunting his “successful” assassinations as badges of honor. The current administration clearly believes that the more terrorists they kill, the better chance they have at winning a second term in November’s election, despite what the international blowback might be. The New York Times reports on Obama:
“His first term has seen private warnings from top officials about a ‘Whac-A-Mole’ approach to counterterrorism; the invention of a new category of aerial attack following complaints of careless targeting; and presidential acquiescence in a formula for counting civilian deaths that some officials think is skewed to produce low numbers.
The administration’s failure to forge a clear detention policy has created the impression among some members of Congress of a take-no-prisoners policy. And Mr. Obama’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, has complained to colleagues that the C.I.A.’s strikes drive American policy there, saying ‘he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people,’ a colleague said.
Beside the president at every step is his counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, who is variously compared by colleagues to a dogged police detective, tracking terrorists from his cavelike office in the White House basement, or a priest whose blessing has become indispensable to Mr. Obama, echoing the president’s attempt to apply the ‘just war’ theories of Christian philosophers to a brutal modern conflict.
But the strikes that have eviscerated Al Qaeda — just since April, there have been 14 in Yemen, and 6 in Pakistan — have also tested both men’s commitment to the principles they have repeatedly said are necessary to defeat the enemy in the long term. Drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants; in his 2010 guilty plea, Faisal Shahzad, who had tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, justified targeting civilians by telling the judge, ‘When the drones hit, they don’t see children.’
Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence until he was fired in May 2010, said that discussions inside the White House of long-term strategy against Al Qaeda were sidelined by the intense focus on strikes. ‘The steady refrain in the White House was, ‘This is the only game in town’ — reminded me of body counts in Vietnam,’ said Mr. Blair, a retired admiral who began his Navy service during that war.”