By Teresa Welsh |
There is no doubt that the U.S. is safer now than it was when Obama took office. Here are six reasons why:
First, Osama bin Laden is dead and the top al Qaeda leadership decimated as a result of Obama's decision to authorize raids and exponentially increase drone strikes in Pakistan.
Second, the U.S. has withdrawn its military forces from Iraq. This eases the strain on our troops, saves lives, and frees up substantial funds, which allows us to focus more on Asia, where our allies are becoming concerned about Chinese assertiveness. Finally, it sends a clear message to the Arab and Muslim world that the U.S. is not an occupying power, undermining al Qaeda's recruitment messaging.
Third, by tripling the number of troops, Obama turned the tide of the battle in Afghanistan. By 2009, the Taliban had the momentum because of the Bush administration's failure to give the commanders in Afghanistan the necessary troops. As a result of Obama's troop surge, the combat mission will be taken over by the Afghans in 2014, and the administration was able to sign a strategic partnership with the Afghans, which will help prevent the nation from again becoming a haven for terrorists.
Fourth, Obama has improved our relations with Russia. This reset allowed Obama to negotiate a new START Treaty that cuts the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons, thereby saving billions of dollars, allows us to send inspectors into Russia to ensure that they are complying with their obligations, and helped gain Russia's cooperation on Iran and Afghanistan.
Fifth, Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons has been severely constrained by the international trade and financial sanctions the administration orchestrated. This has driven Iran back to the bargaining table.
Sixth, Muammar Qadhafi's brutal rule was ended without a single U.S. or NATO casualty and at a cost of only $1.5 billion dollars (compared to $1 trillion to topple Saddam Hussein). The successful operation also breathed new life into the NATO alliance, our most important military partnership, and improved our image in the Muslim world.
Does this mean we are completely safe or that Obama's decisions have all been correct? No. No matter how successful your national security policies, or how much you spend on defense, you cannot have perfect security. Similarly, every president builds upon the policies of his predecessor. But the first Obama administration's capable handling of national security policy has certainly made America safer.
About Lawrence J. Korb Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
James Jay Carafano Director of the Heritage Foundation's Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies
Nathan Sales Law Professor at George Mason University School of Law
Lawrence Husick Co-chairman of the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Center for the Study of Terrorism
William F. Daddio Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University