The street signs carried by Arab street crowds tell us much about the current success of the Obama administration against terrorism.
It started at a fruit stand. Mohsen Bouterfif, a 37-year-old father of two, a street vendor in Tunisia finally had enough. When he complained about the confiscation of his fruit scale an official slapped him. In protest, he set himself on fire, and the resulting Arab revolution transcends borders. Crowds in Tunisia adopted American slogans of hope and freedom, and were mimicked across the upper continent. "Free at Last" was a frequent choice: Not the most frequent, but frequent enough to be noticeable.
The strategy of the Bush administration modified a bit in the last year of that sad presidency. Prosecutions successfully turned suspected terrorists into convicted terrorists. More information began to come from those captured, as torture was supplanted by more effective interrogation.
But the incoming President brought with him new policies. The Iraq war began winding down. New emphasis was placed on securing, then winding down the Afghanistan occupation. But, most of all, a tough, borderline ruthlessness was brought against al Qaeda. The old cold-war-era premise was that no terrorist group could be successful without state sponsorship. Destroy the sponsorship and al Qaeda would evaporate. The new strategy targeted bin Laden and his expanding group of thugs, no matter where they were or what borders they crossed.
But conservatives, for the most part, held their fire on strategy. They directed most of their derision at tactics. Obama was soft on terrorists. Aw hell, he was soft on everything. He told Arab audiences that it was okay for them to regard their own countries as exceptional. He acknowledged that America could make mistakes. He even BOWED to a Saudi King, almost as if the man was part of British royalty.
The number of terrorists killed jumped way up. The running joke was that the most dangerous job in the world was the number three position in al Qaeda. Every few months the number three terrorist was killed, replaced with another target.
So conservatives attacked Obama for killing, rather than capturing, terrorists. Killing terrorists was soft on terrorism. If captured, they could be tortured for information. Killed, they offered nothing. But the number captured jumped up as well. And those captured were being convicted in courts of law. So statistical evidence was denied. The numbers were cooked. Except they weren't.
Those captured were being coddled. We needed information about future attacks and authorities were playing nice. But it turned out the new policies were working. One of the reasons captures rose caught pretty much all of us by surprise. Disapproving relatives and friends were more likely to provide information leading to thwarting of plots, to capture of the plotters, if those relatives were convinced that torture would not be the consequence.
The Obama softness was once a red hot issue for conservatives. Pandering to Arab audiences was weak. Our own T. Paine expressed the criticism moderately and well.
In many of the patriarchal dominated societies of the Middle East, the people and their governments are far more respectful of even their enemies if they know that their enemy is strong and demanding of that respect.
Obama "softness" is shown toward populations, while he is tough as nails against terrorists. Is it paying off? The popularity of America remains phenomenally high.
bin Laden is dead. Drone attacks, chasing terrorists beyond borders, humane but insistent treatment of those captured, ruthless attacks on leadership, are working. But they would not be working if local populations were not turning in information about terrorists and their plans. It is undeniable that this increase in popularity and cooperation did not happen before President Obama came to office.
The Arab revolution remains puzzling to American conservatives. They are divided. Half wonder why Obama didn't keep this from happening. Half wonder why he didn't make it happen sooner. But evidence of Obama's success, America's success, can be seen in the most popular protest sign in the Arab world today, eclipsing even "Free at Last." It may be the key to the fight against anti-American terrorists.
"Yes We Can"
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Wow! I am awe-stricken. At the top of the article, I see that it was written by Guest. To my disappointment, it was not Edgar A.
Then I noticed that it says it is "1 words" long. 1 words really aren’t that many, so me thought, "I will not have to read far to get the conservative gist this time." There were some scribbles after the one word article, but I did not bother reading them, as I knew they were not part of the main text, since they clearly exceeded the pre-defined limit. I read the word: "Mr."
It was far more poignant than I had anticipated. Usually Mr. Paine is so verbose and he often challenges me in ways I am not well equipped to handle. However, I could refute his word this time, were I of a mind to, and I think I am:
Myste, you ain't right, son! ;)
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