Warrior in Chief
By PETER L. BERGEN
Published: April 28, 2012
"THE president who won the Nobel Peace Prize less than nine months after his inauguration has turned out to be one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades."
"Liberals helped to elect Barack Obama in part because of his opposition to the Iraq war . . ."
"If those on the left were listening, they didn’t seem to care. The left, which had loudly condemned George W. Bush for waterboarding and due process violations at Guantánamo, was relatively quiet when the Obama administration, acting as judge and executioner, ordered more than 250 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2009, during which at least 1,400 lives were lost.
Mr. Obama’s readiness to use force — and his military record — have won him little support from the right. Despite countervailing evidence, most conservatives view the president as some kind of peacenik. From both the right and left, there has been a continuing, dramatic cognitive disconnect between Mr. Obama’s record and the public perception of his leadership: despite his demonstrated willingness to use force, neither side regards him as the warrior president he is."
"Compare Mr. Obama’s use of drone strikes with that of his predecessor. During the Bush administration, there was an American drone attack in Pakistan every 43 days; during the first two years of the Obama administration, there was a drone strike there every four days. And two years into his presidency, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president was engaged in conflicts in six Muslim countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. The man who went to Washington as an “antiwar” president was more Teddy Roosevelt than Jimmy Carter."
"Once in office, Mr. Obama signed off on a large increase in the number of C.I.A. officers on the ground in Pakistan and an intensified campaign of drone warfare there; he also embraced the use of drones or covert military units in places like Somalia and Yemen, where the United States was not engaged in traditional land warfare. (Mr. Bush, who first deployed C.I.A.-directed drones, did not do so on the scale that Mr. Obama did; and Mr. Obama, of course, had the benefit of significantly improved, more precise, drone technology.)"
"What accounts for the strange, persistent cognitive dissonance about this president and his relation to military force? Does it stem from the campaign in which Mrs. Clinton repeatedly critiqued Mr. Obama for his stated willingness to negotiate with Iran and Cuba? Or is it because he can never quite shake the deliberative tone and mien of the constitutional law professor that he once was?
. . . yet many continue to see him as the negotiator in chief rather than the warrior in chief that he actually is."