The President is being dragged into fighting a war against terror

When President Obama made his first statement on the Intelligence failure over the underpants bomber it came over as a man attacking his own staff in public. That is not a good way to run something. If you are unhappy with how your staff has handled something you tell them in private, whilst supporting them in public. If the error is grave and unlikely to be remedied in the future you also make changes to key personnel to signal the need for change. If the exisiting staff can do better in the future you give them better leadership on how to carry out the task, and addtional training if appropriate.

In his subsequent statement he amended his stance, accepting that he was ultimately responsible. He had fallen back on the old ally of a Minister or boss in trouble – system failure. No single person apparently is to blame, and no-one will lose their job. The bosses of the relevant agencies and the Cabinet member concerned can sleep more easily as a result. Let us hope that this greater presentational wisdom does not get in the way of him changing the Intelliegnce services to make them more effective.

The President is now a warrior President. He may not have wanted to be a warrior President in the way George Bush became following 9/11, but he has been sucked in to a similar response to his predecessor. Mr Obama chose to make the Afghan war his own and to escalate it. His wish now to fight Al Qaeda – even if he refuses to call it a war on terror – may drag him into wars elsewhere, as Al Qaeda take their activities outside Obama’s war fields to Yemen and elsewhere. It is the old Bush wars by another name. Indeed, the Afghan war is being intensified in a way Bush declined to do.

He would be better advised to think again about how you can best counter terrorism. Fighting wars in every place where terrorists may train and have their bases is not a realistic approach. Why can’t he say so? It does matter that he improves Intelligence, as that is the best way of keeping us relatively safe. It also matters that he changes US relations with a range of difficult or unpleasant regimes around the world. He needs to be tough enough so they believe he would act under provocation, and tough enough not to have to invade them. He runs the risk of being too weak to be taken seriously, but still dragged into wars he cannot easily win.

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7 Comments

  1. Captain Baines
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Obama is a stooge for Wall St, big business and the Israeli lobby. If you look at his campaign contributors and his subsequent caving in to every whim and desire of theirs the conclusion is inescapable. Obama will do what he is told to.
    No one but the elite benefits from ridiculous and criminal wars that Obama is escalating and the UK government is culpable by going along with him. Every ordinary citizen is bound by laws that say that helping or encouraging a criminal act makes you an accessory to that act. Why are governments not bound by the same laws?

  2. angela king
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Afghanistan is not a popular choice of subject for a blog. as I have found from my own. Jokey subjects, taking pot shots at Gordon, anything relating to Boris are much more popular.

    But I truly believe that the visit of Hague and Osborne to Kabul was a very positive step and it seems to me they have formulated a very positive strategy.

    Full marks to Mr. Hague and Mr. Osborne.

  3. angela king
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    ps. Making fun of Gordon and other Labour ministers is very popular. hahaha.

  4. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    What you are talking about here John is good man management.

    Neither Obama or the Labour party have it.

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    This is so true. Apparently Mr Bush made the terrible mistake of increasing the bureaucracy of the CIA, which meant, according to today's Telegraph, lots more back covering and "elfinsafety". The thirteen martyrs were, of course, hunkered down in their bunker when the man with the bomb up his bottom blew them up.
    Intelligence means, surely, having a lot of people the right colour and of the right language and religion circulating and reporting back to you by electronic means? We have such people in droves here in the UK. I do hope that there are lots of them joining al Qua'eda as we speak.
    Muslims, like Christians and Secularists, have to learn to support our country. They really cannot have it both ways. At the moment, I am afraid, they are rather asking for the loathing which, in yesteryear, we reserved for Catholics.
    Hindus, Sikhs and Chinese do not attract the same opprobrium.

  6. Citizen Responsible
    Posted January 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama raised expectations about what he could achieve with his crafted speeches and soaring rhetoric. He was politically less experienced than the other candidates but offered “change”. Obama apparently hoped that his election would change not only America's image in the world but the policies of unfriendly nations. The election of America’s first African-American president is a milestone in US history, but it has not changed the world.

  7. Adrian Peirson
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Obama is fighting a War at home too, Just like over here, the public are slowly realizing that he said Change, but he and his puppet-masters meant Chains.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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