And to the Republic

Howard Manly | 11/8/2011, 8:27 p.m.

Considered a foreign policy neophyte, Barack Obama has emerged as one of the nation’s most competent commanders-in-chief

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the main criticism against Barack Obama was that he was too green to lead America’s foreign policy and military.  

A liberal democrat with an Islamic name, Barack Hussein Obama had as state senator delivered a speech at an anti-war rally in Chicago and blasted what he considered the Bush Administration’s “dumb war” in Iraq. If that were not enough to haunt Obama and convince conservative voters that Obama could not be trusted to protect U.S. interests, his conciliatory statements on Islam were tantamount to burning the post- 9/11 American flag.

The Republican National Committee took it a step further. In a particularly nasty television ad, the RNC painted Obama as no more than a media darling and spliced his pictures with those of pop cultural figures Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. The voice-over asked: “He’s the biggest celebrity in the world, but is he ready to lead?”

Unfazed, Obama took the offensive throughout the presidential campaign. He threatened preemptive strikes against Pakistan for harboring terrorists. He vowed to wage war in Afghanistan against al-Qaida. In a somewhat jarring contrast to his campaign stump speeches that promised “hope” and “change,” Obama frequently mentioned hunting down terrorists where ever they were —  and killing them.

Obama was not just campaigning. He has proven true to his word on the fight against terrorism. Since his historic election, Obama as commander-in-chief has been willing to pull the trigger to protect U.S. interests. Ironically, Obama said as much during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

Conceding that the “moral force of non-violence” has a place in modern-day diplomacy and that there was “nothing naïve” in the beliefs of Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Obama was also quick to point out that he was sworn to “protect and defend” the United States.

“I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people,” Obama said. “For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

In a move that foreshadowed his military decision making, Obama authorized within the first four months of his administration the military rescue of Richard Phillips, the American sea captain taken hostage by pirates in the waters off Somalia. The mission resulted in the deaths of three pirates and the capture of the fourth — and freed Capt. Phillips.  

That mission underscored the frenetic pace of the Obama Administration during its first 100 days. Within a short amount of time, Obama approved the massive expansion of U.S. forces in Afghanistan; increased drone attacks against the Taliban in Pakistan and launched efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Most important, he stepped up efforts to hunt and kill America’s number one enemy — Osama Bin Laden.