Obama’s Bait and Switch

Ryan Mauro is a fellow with the Clarionproject.org, the founder of WorldThreats.com and a frequent national security analyst for Fox News Channel. He can be contacted at ryanmauro1986@gmail.com.


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The refusal of the Iranian regime to react positively to Obama’s overtures has forced him to reconsider his approach. In his second Persian New Year greeting, Obama had a less pleasant tone and included four paragraphs listing the regime’s human rights abuses and expressing American solidarity with the Iranian people. He reacted in the same way to Ahmadinejad’s latest speech at the U.N. where he accused elements of the U.S. government of carrying out the 9/11 attacks.

Secretary Clinton has even hinted at the Obama Administration’s hope for internally-driven regime change (though she denies calling for it). She said on September 19, “And I can only hope that there will be some effort inside Iran, by responsible civil and religious leaders, to take hold of the apparatus of the state.” She also insinuated that the regime’s oppression could spark a popular uprising. This is language that even President Bush did not use towards Iran. It is the closest the U.S. has come to explicitly calling for regime change.

The Obama Administration has actually been much more aggressive in fighting the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan than its predecessor. President Obama opposed the “surge” in Iraq, yet seems to have recognized that he was wrong (without admitting it) and has embraced the same model for his strategy in Afghanistan. He is even using the same personnel to carry it out—General David Petraeus and Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. Obama sent in 10,000 less soldiers than requested by the military and gave a date for when troops must begin coming home (which means he can withdraw a miniscule amount and meet his pledge). Though he wisely embraced a counter-insurgency strategy, he repeatedly demanded that his military leaders use fewer soldiers and accept a timeline, expressing that he “can’t lose the entire Democratic Party.”

In Pakistan, Obama has been launching three times as many drone strikes as Bush did. During the campaign, he openly talked about how he’d attack terrorists there without the Pakistani government’s permission if necessary. The debate over Pakistan cannot be fully equated to the debate over the Iraq War, but these are attacks on a sovereign country without U.N. authorization that are causing outrage in the Muslim world—repercussions that the anti-war left would have moaned over had Bush been as aggressive. By any standard, these strikes are something to be expected of the stereotypical “neocon” and not of a President that boasted of his anti-war credentials.

President Obama’s stances on the domestic end of national security policy also have striking similarities that are especially outraging for the left. “All that power you didn’t like when someone else had it, you kept it. Oh my God, you’re Frodo,” exclaimed Jon Stewart, the left-wing host of The Daily Show who voted for Obama in 2008. As journalist Eli Lake wrote, “When it comes to the legal framework for confronting terrorism, President Obama is acting in no meaningful sense any different than President Bush after 2006, when the Supreme Court overturned the view that the president’s war times were effectively unlimited.”

One of the first actions President Obama took after taking the oath of office was to issue an executive order that was supposed to close Guantanamo Bay within one year. Today, and for the foreseeable future, the prison remains open. Nearly 50 detainees are still being held there indefinitely and others are being held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in order to deny them habeas corpus. The Obama Administration, apparently awoken to the complexity of the problem, has decided to only prosecute the terrorists in civilian courts when they are certain it will result in a guilty verdict.

Like President Bush before him, President Obama is now unwilling to try suspected terrorists like those held at Guantanamo Bay if a reasonable chance for their release exists. And even when the Obama Administration tried to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial, they ultimately had to back down because, in the words of one official, it had become “politically untenable.” The Administration has now reversed course and is looking at possibly trying him in a military tribunal, another practice President Obama has continued that has been called “Bush lite.” It should also be mentioned that President Bush had previously voiced his support for closing Guantanamo Bay, and so there is no substantive difference between the two positions.

Various other Bush-era counter-terrorism measures have been continued. Although President Obama is banning the use of secret overseas prisons to hold terrorists seized from other countries, he is allowing the use of temporary prisons to hold the captives before they are transferred to their destination. The practice called “rendition” remains in effect. President Obama also irked some of the left-wing base by authorizing the CIA to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen in Yemen who is also a high-level Al-Qaeda terrorist tied to several plots against the homeland. Keith Olbermann harshly criticized the move because it effectively gives the death penalty to an American citizen without due process or even the presentation of evidence. Olbermann describes it as “a power not even claimed by the Bush-Cheney Administration.”

Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald expressed similar outrage, writing that “More critically still, the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it – defines the “battlefield” as the entire world.  So the President claims the power to order U.S. citizens killed anywhere in the world, while engaged even in the most benign activities carried out far away from any actual battlefield, based solely on his say-so and with no judicial oversight or other checks.” [emphasis original]

The Obama Justice Department has also taken the side of its predecessor in several controversial cases. It has used the argument of “state secrets” to prevent lawsuits against the government, specifically over wiretaps. It has also served best-selling author James Risen with a subpoena in an investigation to find out who leaked classified information to him about CIA attempts to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. The executive-director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reacted by saying, “as far as I can tell there is absolutely no difference [between Obama and Bush].”

President Obama is acting like a hawk in dove’s clothing, slickly continuing much of his predecessor’s national security policy while wrapping it in the articulate left-wing rhetoric that has propelled him into office. From Iraq to Guantanamo Bay, President Obama is under fire from left-wing icons like Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart. Whether it is due to crude political calculation or recognition of reality once in office or both, President Obama is a different leader than the one Senator Obama campaigned to be.

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  • Gamaliel Isaac

    He's losing Afghanistan and Iraq. That's a pretty big change.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Actually, the fantasy-based missions in Afghanistan and Iraq were always destined to fail no matter what because they were both based on false assumptions and political correct myths.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    President Obama is acting like a hawk in dove’s clothing,

    Actually, Bush was a leftwing loon who didn’t have a conservative bone in his leftwing hack body, which is why he called it a “war on terrorism,” when terrorism is a tactic, one of many used against us by our real adversary, the militant theo-political totalitarian ideology of Islam, which Bush considers to be a “Religion of Peace™” Hence, unlike Ryan Mauro I’m not surprised that Obama follows Bush’s lead so closely, as leftwing birds of a feather tend to flock together.

    In any event, maybe out of naivety Ryan Mauro gullibly assumes because Bush was a Republican he was a rightwing hawk, but I can assure him that real rightwing hawks always saw Bush for the inept leftwing hack he really was, as occupying both Afghanistan and then Iraq, for the purpose of lifting up Muhammadans out of poverty and despair, as if the root cause of terrorism is poverty and despair, was the two biggest strategic blunders in the history of the USA and always destined to inevitably fail, which they did, but no one is willing to admit.

    Nevertheless, can anyone explain what we accomplished in Afghanistan and Iraq and how occupying two Islamic countries made us safer from jihad attack? I mean how many years we wasted; how many troops' lives did we squander; how many trillions of dollars did we throw away; and how much bad will did we generate both domestically and abroad and for what? What did we win? Nothing! Hell, we didn’t even kill OBL and Ayman Zawahira, the two Muhammadans responsible for 9/11. Meanwhile, the forces of jihad are emboldened as hell.

    • http://www.woodedpaths.com DWPittelli

      "can anyone explain what we accomplished in Afghanistan and Iraq"

      Too early to tell. But for one thing, Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven where thousands of jihadis receive military and terrorist training with impunity.

      On Iraq, things might not be looking any better had we not invaded, as Saddam was openly paying $25,000 to families of suicide bombers, shooting at our planes, bribing UN and European officials to get sanctions lifted, and defying us in other ways which, had he gotten away with it, would continually erode our credibility in the region ("even if you lose to the US, you can ignore their demands!"), and necessitated 150,000 U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia to deter him from invading Kuwait again or S.A.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Too early to tell. But for one thing, Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven where thousands of jihadis receive military and terrorist training with impunity.

        The safe haven argument was always totally absurd. We didn’t have to occupy a Muhammadan Islamic country for the purpose of pursuing a fantasy based nation-building mission designed to lift up Muhammadans out of poverty and despair, because for one thing poverty and despair have exactly zero to do with jihad. All we had to do was eliminate the terrorist training camps and eradicate the terrorists, then get the hell out.

        Moreover, we should have concentrated only on eliminating OBL and AQ and then gotten the hell out of Afghanistan as soon as that mission was complete. We had no business jumping into the middle of a jihad between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban. Hell, Mullah Omar the leader of the Taliban, didn’t even know about 9/11 beforehand, and afterward when he confronted OBL about it, OBL lied to his face.

        In any event, the Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11, OBL and AQ did, yet because like a loon Bush jumped into the middle of a jihad between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban to pursue a silly nation building mission that besides being incredibly fantasy based was also exceedingly counterproductive, OBL and AQ were able to escape into Pakistan and have been living comfortably as guess of the ISI ever since.

        Meanwhile, nine years later we are still stuck in the muck in Afghanistan trying to lift up Muhammadans and win their hearts and minds, even though they are obligated to hate our guts per Islam no matter what, while Pakistan, on the other hand, is the home of over 150 terrorist training camps and importing terrorists around the world.

        On Iraq, things might not be looking any better had we not invaded, as Saddam was openly paying $25,000 to families of suicide bombers, shooting at our planes, bribing UN and European officials to get sanctions lifted, and defying us in other ways which, had he gotten away with it, would continually erode our credibility in the region ("even if you lose to the US, you can ignore their demands!"), and necessitated 150,000 U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia to deter him from invading Kuwait again or S.A.

        I never said Saddam shouldn’t have been eliminated. However, we never should have occupied Iraq subsequently to pursue another fantasy based nation-building mission. We should have left Iraq as soon as the country was scoured for WMD and Saddam was captured, and if that would have led to jihad between the Sunni and Shi’a, then so much the better as Muhammadans killing each other inside Dar al Islam is good for us, Dar al Harb, and bad for them, Dar al Islam.

        Like GWB, you obviously don’t have a clue about the nature of the threat we are facing.

        • http://www.woodedpaths.com DWPittelli

          "you obviously don’t have a clue about the nature of the threat we are facing. "

          Don't be so presumptuous.

          1) As it happens, I have always said that after killing Saddam, his two sons and Chemical Ali, we should have left Iraq, permitting whatever scumbag dictator took over to remain in power, provided he refrained from genocide, invasion, and nuclear weapons. That would make us winners you don't f*** with, not a paper tiger bogged down in a swamp.

          2) Regardless of who in Afghanistan knew what when, Bush gave the Taliban the chance to maintain their scumbagocracy, provided they turn over Bin Laden and the rest of the Al Quada leadership. The Taliban refused. So we had to overthrow them. I am agnostic as to whether we could have found a better dictator to replace them, but no obvious candidates have presented themselves.

          • ObamaYoMoma

            2) Regardless of who in Afghanistan knew what when, Bush gave the Taliban the chance to maintain their scumbagocracy, provided they turn over Bin Laden and the rest of the Al Quada leadership. The Taliban refused. So we had to overthrow them. I am agnostic as to whether we could have found a better dictator to replace them, but no obvious candidates have presented themselves.

            Anyone with half a brain knew that Mullah Omar didn’t have the power to turn in OBL and AQ even if he wanted to. Not even the US military was successful in capturing or killing them. Not to mention that it also goes against Islam for Muhammadans to turn in other Muhammadans to kafir infidels. The bottom line is there are no excuses for doing what the Bush administration ended up doing, which by the way also enabled OBL and AQ to escape. They were incredibly incompetent and made stupid assumptions based on idiotic political correct myths instead of contracting or hiring experts to help them understand what they were up against. Hence, there is no excuse for what they did and it’s just too bad that they can’t be held accountable.

        • Wesley69

          All we had to do was eliminate the terrorist training camps and eradicate the terrorists, then get the hell out.

          I agree with this statement. I understand what Bush was trying to do. If he established a democratic state in the MidEast it would threaten the Mullahs in Iran, which I believe was a central key to his strategy. The thing he didn't count on was the feuds that have gone on for centuries and the desire for stern dictatorial rule. Only if they are secular Muslims, does democracy have any chance. But, I agree, nation-building here is a waste of time. Take out who we need to and move on.

          • ObamaYoMoma

            So therefore he occupied two Muhammadan countries to perform two fantasy based nation-building missions and bog us down for years at the same time so the ruling Mullahs of Iran could build nuclear weapons with total and complete impunity. Yeah right. Moreover, had Bush done his homework, he would have known beforehand that imposing democracy on Muhammadans is totally impossible. Isn’t learning everything you can about your adversary the first rule of war? Hence there are no excuses.

    • bubba4

      So if conservatives weilding a conservative "right-wing" philosophy screw something up then they become "lefists" leaving "conservative" intact. I like that.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        So if conservatives weilding a conservative "right-wing" philosophy screw something up then they become "lefists" leaving "conservative" intact. I like that.

        Not quite. Bush never had a conservative bone in his leftwing loon body. The only reason he won was because he happened to be a little less leftwing than Al Gore and John Kerry, and people voted for what they thought was the lesser of two evils. Nevertheless, the Republican Party morphed into the second coming of the Dhimmicrat Party and became virtually indistinguishable from the Dhimmicrat Party under Bush’s tutelage, which is why we have the rise of the Tea Party movement today, because the establishment Republican Party today thanks in large part to Bush is virtually indistinguishable from the Dhimmicrat Party.

        Hence, because Bush was a leftwing loon to begin with, it was inevitable that he would screw up and misconstrue the nature of the threat we are facing today.

        • bubba4

          The Bush Administration was the most successful in history, but only for a small number of "persons" (that is people and corporations). Unless you're just using "left" as a catchall for stuff you don't like, what you are saying makes no sense.

          What you're really saying is that you don't like modern conservatism and you want to be libertarian. Well, that's fine, as long as you honest about it…because a majority of Americans still want basic government services on a national and local level.

          • ObamaYoMoma

            The Bush Administration was the most successful in history, but only for a small number of "persons" (that is people and corporations). Unless you're just using "left" as a catchall for stuff you don't like, what you are saying makes no sense.

            Actually with the exception of cutting taxes and appointing conservative judges, although his feet had to be held to the fire, Bush was leftwing to the core and especially with respect to his foreign policy and with respect to the way he handled the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I mean in response to 9/11 he doubled the size of the federal government and federal spending at the same time, while occupying two Muhammadan countries to pursue leftwing fantasy based nation-building missions. Then he couldn’t have responded anymore leftwing after the mortgage industry collapse.

            What you're really saying is that you don't like modern conservatism and you want to be libertarian. Well, that's fine, as long as you honest about it…because a majority of Americans still want basic government services on a national and local level.

            What you mean? I’ve never changed. I’ve always been a mainstream conservative. However, I watched the Republican Party over the years become hijacked by Leftists and then betray the values the Party was founded on. That isn’t modern conservatism; it is liberalism. In any event, I’ve always been and always will be an advocate of smaller, less intrusive, and limited government, low taxes, less federal regulation, and a strong military.

  • Cuban Refugee

    Political parties are meaningless in this game: Obama and Bush are two sides of the same internationalist coin, both Bilderberg puppets. Robert Gates is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, an arm of Bilderberg, and has attended Bilderberg meetings as has Petraeus; Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford are both members as are Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers. Are we starting to connect the New World Order dots? This is no longer the fodder of conspiracy theorists — it's out there in the open for anyone who cares to see that the world economy is being intentionally collapsed to force the birth of a global monetary system in a socialist utopia, and wars are catalysts to fulfill the dark intentions of the elite. Pray for our world …

  • American_Flag

    The obamma admin is a disgrace to every U.S. Citizen…his words speak louder than his actions.

    The marxist communist socialist little thing of a man.

  • Rifleman

    It's a bait and switch on more than one level.

    Though hussein is killing terrorists, his pullout date is self-defeating. Though he's kept many of the same policies and improved on some (His high value interrogation team that answers only to him could never be created by a GOP president), hussein's objective is to get out, not to prevail, much less win. That's a decisive difference, against the USA.

    He's doing something similar with immigration enforcement. He's deporting more illegals than ever, after saying himself it was impossible to remove a significant number of the illegals by that impractical and unaffordable method. Simultaneously he refuses to secure the border and prevents enforcement of laws that make a decisive difference and cause illegals to self-deport. For every illegal he deports, he allows another hundred or more of them to crash the border and another hundred or more to stay illegally.

    • http://apollospaeks.townhall.com ApolloSpeaks

      THE NEW VIETNAM AND SOUTHEAST ASIA CATASTROPHE

      Now Obama is allowing our murdering enemies in Iran to the negotiating table to aid us in hammering out an exit strategy for our forces in Afghanistan. Soon they'll be peace talks in Paris followed by a new Vietnam and Southeast Asia catastrophe and holocaust.e!

      • bubba4

        You idiot…it's either that or start bombing them. Are you in a hurry to start the bombing? Haven't we killed enough people for one decade?

        • Rifleman

          Obviously we haven't (killed enough people), because they still have nothing better to do than kill us. When they no longer do, then we've killed enough. If they don't want us to bomb them, don't kill us. It ain't rocket science bubba.

    • bubba4

      Immigration is down again for like the 3rd or 4th straight year and deportations are way up. He sent down more National Guard troops to secure the border. So while it might just be hyperbole, you're being unfactual and ridiculous.

      If Bush invaded another country and people criticized him for it, FPM would say that people had irrational Bush hatred. What do you call it when Obama does everything right and you have to make up how it's really a secret plan and not what it seems?

      • Rifleman

        The problem isn't immigration, it's illegal immigration. Like I said, hussein's doing window dressing on illegal immigration, while actively preventing the enforcement of the laws that cause illegals to self-deport.

        My post, was as always, supportive of him whenever, wherever, and however he kills terrorists. Any he allows the US military to kill now won't ever hurt anybody again and won't have to be killed later. A pullout date, for whatever reason, is conceding the battlefield to any enemy on it. There's no logical way around that bubba.

        • bubba4

          Yes, illegal immigration is down by every indicator "we" have.

          • Rifleman

            And it 's contradicted and nullified by hussein's other illegal immigration policies, like I said. He does window dressing, while doing the opposite where it really matters. It's a standard tactic for him.

            When illegal aliens self deport, you'll know we've become serious about illegal immigration.

    • Wesley69

      Obama just isn't a leader. Everything is a half measure, with Afghanistan, with immigration.

      • Rifleman

        You're right. He's a wannabe ruler.

        • Wesley69

          A Leader weighs a decision, then goes all in. Bush may have made mistakes, but he was decisive. He stuck by the surge because he believed it would work despite Reid saying the war was lost.

  • BS77

    Cool photograph morphing together the two figures……..

  • NO TO DEMS

    Obama and democrats are all socialist-communist and evryone now fully knows this and the democrats are now trying to make it look like all others are extreme and or nutjobs in counter attacks of recent in last minute efforts to confuse the masses, this is an very old socialist-communist and even a NAZI tactic, it's a good thing it won't work on true United States Americans who are always UNITED to stop it, Our Grand fathers and fathers knew after fighting them abroad in the Scoialist-Communist-Nazi world they would one day infiltrate our own homelands-It's time to rid them all along with the illegals which includes illegal socialist-communist Obama-

  • bubba4

    Hey Ryan, let me help you out. If you are so anxious to deny Obama credit for anything that you give it to Bush (if only he'd had a third term)…you're reaching.

    How does it work over there. Do you have a list of topics and you have to pick one and write an article about it. A lot of these Obama smear article smack of assignment.

  • Fred Dawes

    both guys bush and obama are owned by the same people we all know that fact but most will never act on this info out of total fear of being called a nut or put in jail. what all Americans need to do is go to the point of power and stand in front of each political person and tell that person what will happen if that political person keeps doing the same BS, And if that political pig keeps doing the one thing that the people do not like we need to do the right thing if you know what i mean?

  • wesley69

    There is a definite difference between Bush & Obama. Bush was all in, committed to victory and the enemy knew it. While we were engaged in Iraq, al-Qaeda was there fighting us, not engaged in terrorist actions in the US. It was US soldiers who paid the price to keep this country safe. Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan because the military had crushed the Taliban. The mistake made was not pursuing them into Pakistan or using predator drones to wipe them out, but it would have come at the expense of Pakistan's leader, Musharraf If he was deposed, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could have fallen in the wrong hands. After al-Qaeda was on the run in Iraq due to the surge and the Sunni break with al-Qaeda, they switched their operation to Afghanistan. The Democrats probably helped them with this decision by screaming Iraq is the bad war. Afghanistan is the good war. Bush stayed the course and offered no timeline for withdrawal. It cost him and his party, but his resolve wasn’t questioned by the enemy.

    • Fred Dawes

      yes and no bush if he really wanted to win this war would have removed Iran from the earth, But Yes Bush was right about many things obama only wants all American dead,dead,dead. and understand one fact your enemies must be under the earth after that you can show Love and peace but above all other things our enemies must know pain and hell.

    • flowerknife_us

      Was it possible for President Bush to do anything other than try establishing a "republican" form of Government in either Afcrapistan or Iran?

      Could he really just set up another dictator in Iraq?

      A Taliban Government in Afcrapistan?

      Could he have just left both in state we put them in and gone home?

      Set up a socialist government or better yet- a communist one?

      Just what option would the MSM supported on behalf of the Presidents opponents?

      We are all well aware of what they didn't support.

      now what was the form of Government Bush supported again.

  • Wesley69

    Obama has not set victory as his objective in Afghanistan, the good war. Though he added troops to Mr. O. announced a withdrawal starting next year. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban could wait until the US leaves, then the country could be their’s. To his credit, Mr. O. has stepped up drone attacks in Pakistan, but if we withdraw from Afghanistan, is that it? Does Obama allow al-Qaeda to destabilize Pakistan with its nuclear arsenal?

  • Lary9

    Admittedly, I agree. Obama has disappointed the rigorous right and the true left. One thing that makes a rigidly fixed campaign promise tough to follow through on….things change….sh*t happens…constantly. What does a person do if the situation upon which a strategy is based changes? Sometimes…I change my mind…. what else? I call it maintaining an open mind.

  • Wesley69

    Situations need to be reassessed continuely. Bush did it in Iraq. Obama made a correct choice with his surge, but said nothing about withdrawals. Remember, this is the Democrat's good war. He is worried about his base, but sometimes you need to do what's right. Simply put, are you in it to win, if not, get out.

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