The difference between talking tough and being tough

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TALKING TOUGH AND BEING TOUGH…. Over the weekend, Vice President Biden made a rather bold claim about the administration’s counter-terrorism efforts: “There has never been as much emphasis and resources brought against al-Qaeda. The success rate exceeds anything that occurred in the [Bush/Cheney] administration.”

Today, David Ignatius considers whether the claim is accurate.

The Karachi raid [that led to the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar] is part of a broad offensive that has sometimes been overlooked in the partisan squabbles over whether the Obama administration should be giving Miranda warnings to terrorist suspects. “The real action has been pounding the hell out of al-Qaeda and its allies around the world,” the official argued.

The numbers show a sharp upsurge in operations against al-Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan since Barack Obama took office…. All told, according to U.S. officials, since the beginning of 2009, the drone attacks have killed “several hundred” named militants from al-Qaeda and its allies, more than in all previous years combined. The drones have also shattered the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, which has been waging a terror campaign across that country. […]

[S]urely the country can agree, looking at the evidence, that Obama has been no slouch in pursuing what he said in his inaugural address was a “war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”

It’s simply astounding to hear conservative Republicans claim that President Obama has been “weak” on counter-terrorism. Short of having the president air-dropped into mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan with a knife in his teeth and an assault rifle on his back, I’m not sure how more aggressive Obama could be. More to the point, he’s far more forceful and successful on the issue than Bush — who somehow managed to cultivate a bogus reputation of “toughness” — ever was.

The AP had a similar assessment the other day, emphasizing, among other things, that Obama’s decision to reduce the U.S. presence in Iraq has “freed up manpower and resources to hunt terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” It’s an approach that “intelligence officials, lawmakers and analysts” believe is working. Obama has also made regional gains with constructive outreach to Islamic allies, which has bolstered international cooperation.

Those of us who take national security matters seriously can take comfort in the fact that congressional Republicans can’t filibuster the Obama administration’s counter-terrorism efforts. GOP obstructionism can undermine the economy, the strength of our health care system, and our national energy policy, but fortunately, Obama is the Commander in Chief.