Terrorism and Priorities

February 2nd, 2010

By Tom Carter

Richard Cohen, normally a pragmatic liberal who supports President Obama, has taken him and his Administration to task on how they’re dealing with terrorists.  From his column in The Washington Post today:

There is almost nothing the Obama administration does regarding terrorism that makes me feel safer. Whether it is guaranteeing captured terrorists that they will not be waterboarded, reciting terrorists their rights, or the legally meandering and confusing rule that some terrorists will be tried in military tribunals and some in civilian courts, what is missing is a firm recognition that what comes first is not the message sent to America’s critics but the message sent to Americans themselves. When, oh when, will this administration wake up?

On related issues:

The announced closing of Guantanamo has also suffered from a peculiar Obama-style naivete. It is now apparent that there are some bad people there who should be detained way past the time they are eligible for AARP membership. It’s true that the world does not like Guantanamo, but then it’s also true that the world is not an al-Qaeda target. …

No doubt George Bush soiled America’s image abroad with what looked liked vigilante justice and Dick Cheney’s hearty endorsement of ugly interrogation measures. But more is at stake here than America’s image abroad — namely the security and peace of mind of Americans in America. Bush stands condemned by the facts for Sept. 11 — his watch, his responsibility — and in all likelihood he bent over backward to ensure that nothing like those attacks would happen again.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, seems to have bent over backward to prove to the world it is not the Bush administration and will, almost no matter what, ensure that everyone gets the benefit of American civil liberties. But the paramount civil liberty is a sense of security and this, sad to say, has eroded under Barack Obama. Repeatedly, the administration has shown poor judgment.

President Obama should be paying attention — this isn’t some typical Republican conservative criticizing his Administration and its policies.  More and more, common-sense liberals are joining in the criticism.  It doesn’t take a psychic to foretell the future if things don’t change, and soon.

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4 Responses to “Terrorism and Priorities”

  1. larry |


  2. Bob Nelson |

    Beware of Richard Cohen. He is a charter neocon who was smart enough to shift a bit, before the others.

    (I do not use the term “neocon” indiscriminately, as do so many today. I refer to the disciples of Leo Strauss (Krystol, Perl, Wolfowitz, …)

  3. Tom |

    Bob, you’re characterizing Cohen as a neocon in the same way all leftist liberals use the word — those who disagree with liberals on key issues, to include Iraq, are, ipso facto, neoconservatives. Horse puckey.

    I’ve read Cohen for many, many years, and I know a bit about his background. He is, as I described him in the article, a pragmatic liberal who supports President Obama. The operative word is “pragmatic.” He’s open-minded enough to disagree with liberals when he thinks they’re wrong, regardless of what the laundry list of liberal orthodoxy may demand. He’s also capable of making mistakes, just like you and me, and he’s capable of changing his mind.

    I have to tell you, my friend, that as more and more Democrats turn against Obama, both because of his poor performance and because they want to survive politically, you’re going to wear out the word “neocon.”

  4. Bob Nelson |


    I took care to say that I know what “neo-con” means. I do not use that word indiscriminately. I repeat that Richard Cohen was one of them before taking some distance.

    Don’t misunderstand — I generally find his articles worth reading. But I always keep in mind the neo-con philosophy, and therefore that Cohen may or may not be writing what he really thinks. He may or may not be setting up a straw man, a Trojan Horse, …

    As they say, caveat emptor

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