Sunday, October 23, 2011

Obama gets the bad guys. Will he get the votes?

President Obama is quite efficient when he doesn't have to deal with Republican obstructionism. He didn't have to go to Congress to get permission to take out Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and other al Qaeda associates. When it comes to foreign affairs, the President is piling up mounting successes, and Moammar Gadhafi's death is further vindication of Obama's style of warfare.

Now Obama has announced the end of the war in Iraq, with all troops returning home by the end of the year. This is a popular move in an election year, and of course the Republicans are accusing Obama of playing politics. Although the political dividends are probably insignificant, being overshadowed by the economy, Obama can at least take credit for bringing this $1 trillion war that was one of the worst foreign policy blunders to an end. It should be remembered that Obama's opponents in 2008, including Hillary Clinton, had all voted to authorize the Iraq war in 2002. Obama was opposed to this war from the beginning.

Presidents can pretty much carry out foreign policy without congressional approval. The President has wide latitude in declaring war and other matters of national security. Although the Constitution says otherwise, the President does what he wants anyway. Imagine a protracted fight with Republicans in Congress about the best method of tracking down bin Laden. Obama's method worked just fine, even though members of his staff had warned him that such a strike was too risky. If he had failed, Obama's political career would have been toast. He took the courageous course. It worked, and the rest is history.

I can only imagine how much Obama could accomplish if he handled domestic issues the same as he handles matters of war. The Founding Fathers had a reason for making sure that there was a balance of power, but they couldn't have foreseen the insanity of what passes for politics today. As for the economic impact of the war, the Obama style of sending in drones instead of troops seems to be working, and at a relatively cheap price. And did we really need to spend $1 trillion in Iraq? Conservatives don't want to admit that this type of spending is what got us into this economic mess in the first place.

We paid a steep price in Iraq. There is no justification for the cost, not just financial, but in lives lost and troops injured. In the case of Gadhafi, a NATO warplane or U.S. drone is believed to have fired on his convoy outside his hometown of Sirte, allowing rebel fighters to capture him. “In this case, America spent $2 billion total and didn't lose a single life,” said Vice President Joe Biden. “This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has been in the past.”

Obama's foreign policy successes cannot be overlooked, no matter how hard his Republican detractors try to twist and distort the facts. But Obama's chances in 2012 hinge largely on the economy. Although the Republicans want him to be perceived as inept and lacking experience, it's hard not to blame our current economic problems on the complete lack of cooperation from the likes of John Boehner, Eric Cantor and the idiocy of the Tea Party movement.

Even though the focus of the next election will be on the economy, the Republican candidates will look pretty silly as they continue to label Obama weak on national security. Obama's solid leadership in foreign affairs may not be the biggest re-election topic, but it could be enough to put him over the top, given the weakness and utter lack of intelligence of the opposition. Compared to Obama, the GOP candidates look like contestants on “The Price Is Right”, only without the funny hats.