The reason the president did not do that, of course, is that he opposed the war in Iraq as Bush’s war, and his supporters continued to spread the myth that “Bush lied us into war.” Instead, Obama characterized the Af-Pak war as different, or as the Council on Foreign Relations’ president Richard Haas has called it, a “war of choice.”
The big question that remains is: what will the American public now demand regarding the Afghanistan war? Will we commence with a phased withdrawal, or realize that this is now more than impossible, given that al-Qaeda or what remains of it has made that nation, as the president said last year, “the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al-Qaeda.” And what will we do about Pakistan? It is quite clear that Osama’s mansion where he hid, a few yards from Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point, was something that one must note must have been quite hard for Pakistan’s intelligence services to miss or not be rather suspicious about. Indeed, the reason the new mansion was overlooked is most probably because Pakistan’s intelligence community itself was in al-Qaeda’s pocket and helped Osama gain refuge there. It was not out of neglect that the United States kept them in the dark about U.S. plans to raid the safe house.
So, to conclude, President Obama has taken away the charge that he is not tough on terrorism or on Islamic radicals. As Todd and his NBC colleagues write:
Bin Laden’s death is a tacit rebuke of all those who questioned Obama’s toughness on foreign policy and bats down the criticism from the right that Obama’s rhetoric is too soft (he doesn’t say “Global War on Terror!”). Obama supporters will say it proves it’s not tough talk that matters — but rather action.
From now on, criticism of Obama has to be on his view of how to handle foreign policy, not on his unwillingness to take tough action against our enemies when the opportunity exists to do so.
The election, however, is still far, far away. A lot can happen in that time, and as we have just seen, in a few days.