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Tianjin, P.R. China–It is noon on Monday. The university where I teach is closed due to the Labor Day holiday. I am sitting in my dormitory room on campus watching the only English-speaking channel on television, RT TV. President Barack Obama had just appeared. It is almost midnight in the United States. Why is the president addressing the nation at this time of the night? I doubled checked to see if this was a live broadcast or a replay, and it was live. The president just announced that U.S. military forces had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. A very brief and somber message, that was followed by crowd jubilation in Washington, DC; New York City and many other cities around the world.
The event did not seem to have a great impact here in China, and seems to have a cautious impact in the Middle East (at least from reading some of the news bulletins and reactions to them in Arabic). Yet, in the United States and much of the world this is history in the making and a testimony to the correct focus and policy of the Obama Administration. The Professor/President has indeed proven that he is a calculating, thorough and able Commander-in-Chief. The man who shattered more than 200 years of history by winning election as the first African-American to be President of the United States has done it again. Just 29 months into his presidency, he did what many considered to be the impossible: capturing and killing the most notorious terrorist in our time. Mission has truly been accomplished.
Barack Obama’s focus was different from that of George W. Bush. He approached political power differently. The Obama Doctrine, if historians term it that one day, is an engaging, soft exercise of power that utilizes legality, rational engagement and correct focus. Barak Obama realizes that politically-motivated wars of choice are not the answer in fighting terrorism. On the contrary, they are grounds to breed terrorism. He also realized that Iraq had nothing to do with September 11 and al Qaeda, and correctly decided to pull most U.S. troops out of Iraq by December 2011 in order to end this ugly chapter in our history. The legal, constitutional, scholar president has also recognized that to fight terrorism, we, as a nation of laws, must uphold the very laws we advocate. This means ending torture and all illegal abuses committed under the guise of fighting terrorism, including the shutting down of Guantanamo Bay, ending the infamous CIA rendition programs and safeguarding our civil liberties. The correct way to fight terrorism, defeat al Qaeda and capturing and killing bin Laden, according to the Obama Doctrine, comes not in detouring our focus toward politically-motivated targets of choice but rather targeting the real enemy and getting him exactly where he hides, not in Iraq, but in Pakistan. To get him, we do not need to invade Pakistan and engage in another fatal exercise of occupation and nation building, but through effective intelligence work on the ground and relying on our own efforts rather than on proxies such as Pakistani intelligence. It also means engaging the people of the region in our common cause for freedom and a better life, as we are doing now in supporting the democratic movements in the Middle East and separating between fighting terrorists and respecting other religions. It paid off. The Obama Doctrine has worked. With clear focus and correct policy, Osama bin Laden, this 7th century theologian and 21st century CEO of a murderous terrorist network, was finally captured and killed. His killing will not end his organization, but it has been dealt a great blow and effectively demoralized.
The killing of bin Laden is more than the killing of a symbol. It is the killing of an icon and an idea whose time had come to end. Barack Obama, U.S. intelligence and the brave men and women in the military deserve credit for bringing justice to thousands of innocent victims who were murdered by this terrorist. They also deserve credit for rescuing Islam from the thug who had hijacked it and caused it great harm and damage. I hope this will also put to rest the unfair criticism of President Obama as being weak on defense, not too decisive, or going as far as calling him un-American and force him to present his birth certificate. It is heartwarming to witness that bin Laden, the true enemy of Islam who had hijacked this religion for his evil-minded thinking, was killed by the order of a president that some Americans mistakenly still consider to be Muslim. It is time to put the politics of division aside and come together as a nation to heal our wounds and encourage this new direction in our leadership and policy. America is once again the beacon for freedom, respected around the world and deservingly so. We are doing it with focus on a smart exercise of our power and for the first time in decades, we are on the correct side of history.
ASPA member Alexander Dawoody is
assistant professor of public policy and administration at Marywood
University. Email: [email protected]