Barack Obama: Strong, Smart, Principled National Security

Protecting ourselves is not about being the bigger bully. In defense of U.S. national security, President Barack Obama has demonstrated that he is better qualified than any of the GOP candidates (dare I say…combined) because of his three-pronged approach, including defense (plus offense!), development (plus diplomacy!), and domestic strategy.

Obama’s record speaks for itself. This administration has killed and captured more senior Al-Qaeda leaders, terrorists, and supported the end of more ruthless dictatorships in the past three years than in the previous right combined.

Osama bin Laden? Check.

Anwar al-Awlaki? Check.

Muammar Gaddafi? Check indeed.

Even the conservative Heritage Foundation admits that the Obama administration has successfully foiled nine terrorist attacks. But it’s not just the number of vanquished America-haters that demonstrates Obama’s national security prowess; it is the smart, decisive, principled method that he used to accomplish these tasks.

Instead of leading the charge to oust Gaddafi, Obama helped to rally a coalition force, and loosened the chains of Libya’s authoritarianism without sacrificing a single American life. However, if you’re someone who does measure security in terms of military might, then you’ll be comforted to know that Obama has also launched many more drone strikes than his predecessor. While imperfect, drones have spared countless civilian and American military lives. 

Obama has also looked beyond the battlefields to ensure America’s safety. He was the one, after all, who advocated a drawdown of global nuclear weapons stockpiles, which continue to be an international liability. He then helped convene the largest international conference since the founding of the League of Nations - the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit - in order to build international consensus and action around this national security priority.   

But Obama has also demonstrated that his visionary national security approach stretches beyond hard power. This year has seen democratic explosions across the world, backed by the wise, measured support of the Obama administration, through development and diplomacy. Innovative programs, including with the State Department’s support for democracy and economic development through strategic grants and public-private partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa address root causes of unrest and foster healthier, more democratic societies, which as we unfortunately learned the hard way, is a great way to keep America safe.

Obama knows that the U.S. is susceptible to the same radicalism that is fostered in failed states, so he has been investing a good part of his term in strategies for innovation and job creation, to bolster our economy and provide livelihoods, despite a cantankerous political environment.

True, Obama’s foreign policy record isn’t all gilded. We are, after all, still waiting to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, which will continue to be a liability as long as it operates.

But compare Obama’s record to the GOP candidates. I mean, collectively, Republican candidates have accomplished some laudable achievements including … er … wait, there was that one … no … well, at least Herman Cain said he was kidding about Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan. And as we’ve seen in Cain’s case, too many foibles may kill a campaign.

Across the panel, GOP candidates have dumbfounded the American public with incoherent and contradictory statements on serious issues like foreign policy, our international allies, and military engagements. Under Obama’s continued leadership, we will use all the tools in our toolbox not only to get the bad guys, but also to prevent new threats, and thus ensure a more secure America.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons