A key foreign policy objective of the Obama administration has been to dress up the war on terror as a police and intelligence operation backed by drone strikes. The rhetorical and tactical shift seeks to reassure Americans and shift their attention from the Conflict Formerly Known As the Global War on Terror to foreign policy priorities more in keeping with the administration’s vision. It also hopes to change attitudes among Muslims worldwide, who often see the “war on terror” as a synonym for “war on Islam.”
There’s only one problem: Americans aren’t buying it. According to a survey from Rasmussen Reports, only 11 percent of respondents think the war on terror is over. An overwhelming 79 percent said the war is not over.
Despite the best efforts of the White House to convince us otherwise, there is a war, it is global, and the enemy are renegade terrorists possessed by a fanatical version of Islam—a version that most orthodox Muslims reject as heretical, but a version nevertheless. There is a time for diplomatic niceties and mealy-mouthed platitudes, but war is not one of them.
Thankfully, the president’s bite is much worse than his bark — if I can use a dog metaphor here without being accused of a political agenda. He doesn’t call this a war but he is fighting it like one — unless hurling drones onto American citizens and others overseas without any judicial process is the White House’s idea of ordinary law enforcement.
And, to the surprise of some of his supporters as well as of some of his opponents, President Obama is no slouch in the global war on terror Olympics. As we will no doubt be incessantly reminded during the upcoming months, Barack Obama authorized the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden. And while it has received far less attention than his order to send the Navy Seals after bin Laden, Obama’s decision last week to expand drone strikes into Yemen suggests that the commander-in-chief is very much aware of the magnitude of the struggle in which his country is engaged.