Debate Club

President Obama Deserves Credit for Keeping Us Safe

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Yes. We are safer and we feel safer, but does President Barack Obama really deserve credit for improving our safety?

A president tends to continue the predecessor's efforts to keep us safe. Though there are tweaks, safety efforts normally do not ride the ups and downs of more politically charged issues like taxes or healthcare. As time passes, everyone gets better at responding to threats. Citizens learn to be more watchful for threatening activity, and become more willing to take action. Police departments develop better resources to anticipate threats, pre-empt them, and if not, neutralize them more quickly. The government learns from its mistakes, and develops more effective responses to threats. This has all happened, and normally does over time.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Then again, those federal agencies responsible for our safety all have strong and experienced and effective leadership. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an astute politician and an accomplished legislator, enjoys glowing praise from the agency's normally critical professional staff. Leon Panetta, secretary of defense, has had a long and distinguished career as a legislator and senior executive at some of our government's most critical positions. Attorney General Eric Holder is an experienced federal prosecutor and has extensive experience as senior executive at Justice. Homeland Security's Janet Napolitano has brought some logic and results to the perpetually dysfunctional agency in large part due to her experience as chief executive of a border state. You can disagree with many of their policies, but not really those related to our safety. The president deserves credit for those appointments, and the heads of those agencies seem to appreciate the president's leadership.

[Read In Wake of Bin Laden's death, Al Qaeda Remains Lethal.]

Thinking of it another way, if terrorist attacks on U.S. soil were increasing and Americans were dying at or near the levels of 9/11, who would we blame? The president. Since those threats have been much more limited, President Obama deserves credit for keeping us safe.

William F. Daddio

About William F. Daddio Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University

Tags
foreign policy
Obama administration
Obama, Barack

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