EVEN though the US presidential election is more than 12 months away, support for President Barack Obama has soared following the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Republicans, Democrats and former high-ranking members of staff have come out in praise of Obama, the work of the intelligence community and the army in the operation that was completed after years of painstaking work on Sunday evening.
Who would have believed that former vice-president Dick Cheney would have something good to say about President Barack Obama’s policies?
But Cheney, former secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld and many other Republicans came out in praise of the operation in Pakistan in which bin Laden was killed.
These are the same people who derided Obama constantly in the past. He was said to be hesitant, inexperienced in foreign policy, did not know what to do in the face of the wave of revolution that has spread across the Arab world this year and was unable to bring a decisive end to the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Elliott Abrams, deputy national security adviser under former president George Bush, said only last Friday that Obama was bringing down the status of the US internationally. Abrams attacked the president’s policies in the Middle East and even took aim at Obama in his blog on Monday for taking too much credit for the operation for which the intelligence community had been preparing for years.
But no matter how one examines the public relations aspects, the strike was a very impressive symbolic achievement by the Obama administration and a far less controversial achievement than healthcare reform.
Bin Laden’s assassination helps Obama kill two birds with one stone. He has improved his reputation as commander-in-chief, proving he can stick with a goal and knows how to get results, and he has also paved the way for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, one of his campaign pledges.
So far the administration has not really managed to explain what the decisive moment will be with regard to the Taliban’s forces and how it will be measured.
Some claim Obama was lucky. Some warn the elections are still far off and many things could still happen. But this week, Obama seems to have pulled the rug out from under many of the significant claims of his adversaries.
Obama said on Sunday night that people do not know the faces of the intelligence experts who finally took out bin Laden. But they do know the face of the president and at this point he is the big winner in the operation.
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