mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Obama Follows Bush in Yemen, Ups Drone Strikes

Obama expanded the controversial “signature strikes” drone program into Yemen this month, where drone strikes can now be authorized even when the identity of the potential victims is unknown. The Washington Post reports that this program has already killed its first target: Mohammad Said al Umda, an al-Qaeda operative who received extensive training in Afghanistan and is believed to be a commander for al-Qaeda’s operations on the Arabian Peninsula.

That Obama has chosen to expand the drone campaign in Yemen is not a surprise. The past few years have seen al-Qaeda and other terror groups gain a significant foothold in Yemen, which now threatens to become another Afghanistan—a weak state from which terror attacks can be planned with little harassment by local government. Drone strikes have proven effective in combating these terror cells in the past, and from a tactical perspective continuing them is simply a logical move.

What is surprising is the lack of public outcry. In the waning years of the Bush Administration, even modest military expansion was greeted by opposition and outrage at presidential overreach. Though Obama’s plan is currently under scrutiny in Congress and is getting some press coverage, it looks like this expansion will be allowed to pass rather quietly.

Fortunately, it looks like Obama is proceeding wisely, given the ongoing threat to the United States from radicalized terror groups. It’s almost as if we were in a war of some kind, a global war on terror, perhaps. And it’s almost as though the President thought the threat was so grave, so immense, that the United States had to bring everything we have to the struggle. Imagine that.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Kris

    “Obama Follows Bush in Yemen”

    Look, when Obama followed Bin Laden into Pakistan, I was the first to cheer. But following Bush into Yemen is just going too far! Guess I should have listened to that Glenn Greenwald hyperventilating after all.

  • Mike

    What is surprising is the lack of public outcry. In the waning years of the Bush Administration, even modest military expansion was greeted by opposition and outrage at presidential overreach.

    With all due and great respect to Dr. Mead, the only one who may be surprised here, Doctor, is you. Even a cursory review of the “change” (never mind “hope”) of public attitude between the Bush and Obama Administrations clearly reveals what Dr. Mead apparently does not see or will not admit: that the “outrage” during the Bush years was trumped up by the Left because there was a Republican in office.

    Since taking office, Obama has embraced or expanded every Bush-Cheney protocol (renditions, tribunals, predators, preventative detention, Patriot Act, intercepts, wiretaps, Guantanamo Bay) that he inherited and without so much as a peep from the anti-war Left.


  • Mrs. Davis

    The good news is that President Romney will be able to say he is continuing the Obama policy with a straight face.

  • Charles R. Williams

    They would rather kill terrorists from a distance even if a lot of innocents die than detain, interrogate, give them a trial before a military tribunal and execute them.

    This is moral cowardice.

  • Lorenz Gude

    I agree that the difference in treatment for Obama and Bush for the same policies is the Rhino in the Room, but there is strategic and non party political point I’d like to make about drones. They put some symmetry back in asymmetric warfare. Guerrillas, terrorists, pirates – whatever, have enjoyed a tremendous asymmetric advantage in the latter part of the 20th century with weaponry like the AK-47 and plastic explosives, even box cutters. They could strike at the time and place of their choosing and enjoy near complete immunity from retaliation from even superpowers in placers like Yemen and Afghanistan. . The drone changes all that. Despite the legal questions raised by a President using a Finding to execute a US Citizen like Anwar Awlaki it is something I support. I’d be more comfortable if we could make a declaration of war against al Qaeda and its supporters with the result that a US citizen like Awlaki then can be handled as a traitor – which is what he was I believe. But in any case the President regardless of party should be able to defend the country against its enemies even when they are holed up in Abbotabad or hiding in Yemen.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service