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I have a piece in The New Republic today about President Obama’s hawkish national security policy. The ruthlessness he has displayed in Pakistan has been the clearest manifestation of this.
Obama has approved approximately 180 lethal U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan against jihadist terrorists since becoming president—or an attack roughly every four days. This represents a 300 percent increase over the number carried out during the Bush administration. In his interview for the BBC yesterday, Obama again specified that he would happily carry out more bin Laden style raids in Pakistan if it meant protecting the US from terrorist attack. While this is all extremely sound, it is interesting that Obama has largely escaped much criticism for pretty aggressive policies which, if enacted under his less media-friendly successor, would have led to a maelstrom of abuse.
Yet the President’s hawkish streak on Pakistan is unsurprising if you actually look at what he said on the campaign trail back in 2007. Get beyond the platitudes of ‘hope’ and ‘change’, and there was a promise to ‘take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan’, and that
There is a core of terrorists – probably in the tens of thousands – who have made their choice to attack America… my strategy will be to build our capacity and our partnerships to track down, capture or kill terrorists around the world, and to deny them the world’s most dangerous weapons. I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America.
So far he has been good to his word – and with yet more terrorist attacks there yesterday, there is no reason to think this situation will change anytime soon.