Sunday, December 07, 2008

Does Obama Have A Plan?

In his commentary "A Team in Need of a Plan," which appeared in the December 2, 2008, edition of the Washington Post, columnist Eugene Robinson, a columnist with whom conservatives certainly do not always agree, addressed the problem of combating terrorism and, in my view, makes points worth noting. Excerpts from Mr. Robinson's commentary are below the fold.
A concept that excludes nothing defines nothing. That's why one of the most urgent tasks for President-elect Barack Obama's "Team of Rivals" foreign policy brain trust is coming up with a coherent intellectual framework -- and a winning battle plan -- for the globe-spanning asymmetrical conflict that George W. Bush calls the "war on terror."

Terrorism (for the umpteenth time) is a tactic, not an enemy; Bush might as well declare war against flanking maneuvers or amphibious landings. Everyone knows what Bush is trying to say, and no one can deny the potential of terrorist attacks to destroy lives and change the world. Few would doubt that a line can be drawn between the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and last week's bloody rampage in Mumbai. But is it a straight line or a zigzag? Is it bold or faint? Continuous or dotted?

The Bush administration correctly takes the position that all terrorism is evil. But that black-and-white view doesn't take you very far toward useful policy choices. Being firmly opposed to rainy days won't keep you dry in a storm.

The fact that all terrorism is evil doesn't mean that all terrorism is alike...

[...] will be Obama's responsibility -- and that of Clinton, as the new architect of U.S. diplomacy -- to find a way out of this kind of logical cul-de-sac.

In his opening statement, Obama vowed to continue the fight against "those who kill innocent individuals to advance hateful extremism." Is that his definition of terrorism?...


There might be other issues that Obama and his team would like to tackle first. But as the carnage in Mumbai reminds us, terrorists don't wait their turn.
Mr. Robinson has, or wants to have, confidence in Obama's discernment. Agree with that confidence or not, the monstrous attacks in Mumbai bring to the fore once again the importance of the war declared by jihadomaniacs, who are poised as best they can to strike whenever and wherever they can.

My father used to say about the office of President of the United States, "Who would want such a job?" Obama apparently does, and one of his first tasks should be naming the enemy in something other than nebulous, politically correct catch-phrases. Perhaps he will take that step early in his term as President. But can he convince Americans in general that the threat of Islamic terrorism is real? Various surveys show that national security is not now high on the list of concerns of the average American. After all, it's much more comfortable to be an ostrich.

Additional reading:

1. "We Have Been Warned" (Front Page Magazine)

2. "Looking for the Ideal Spot to Make a [Foreign Policy] Speech" (New York Times)

The video below shows one Egyptian cleric's plans for Obama:

(Crossposted to THE ASTUTE BLOGGERS)

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posted by Always On Watch @ 12/07/2008 04:00:00 PM