Flip-Flops and Governance
Our president isn't quite as advertised.
By KARL ROVE
Barack Obama inherited a set of national-security policies that he
rejected during the campaign but now embraces as president. This is a
stunning and welcome about-face.
For example, President Obama kept George W. Bush's military tribunals
for terror detainees after calling them an "enormous failure" and a
"legal black hole." His campaign claimed last summer that "court
systems . . . are capable of convicting terrorists." Upon entering
office, he found out they aren't.
He insisted in an interview with NBC in 2007 that Congress mandate
"consequences" for "a failure to meet various benchmarks and
milestones" on aid to Iraq. Earlier this month he fought off
legislatively mandated benchmarks in the $97 billion funding bill for
Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Obama agreed on April 23 to American Civil Liberties Union demands
to release investigative photos of detainee abuse. Now's he reversed
himself. Pentagon officials apparently convinced him that releasing
the photos would increase the risk to U.S. troops and civilian
Throughout his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama excoriated Mr. Bush's
counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, insisting it could not succeed.
Earlier this year, facing increasing *** in Afghanistan, Mr.
Obama rejected warnings of a "quagmire" and ordered more troops to
that country. He isn't calling it a "surge" but that's what it is. He
is applying in Afghanistan the counterinsurgency strategy Mr. Bush
used in Iraq.
As a candidate, Mr. Obama promised to end the Iraq war by withdrawing
all troops by March 2009. As president, he set a slower pace of
drawdown. He has also said he will leave as many as 50,000 Americans
These reversals are both praiseworthy and evidence that, when it comes
to national security, being briefed on terror threats as president is
a lot different than placating MoveOn.org and Code Pink activists as a
candidate. The realities of governing trump the realities of