Recently, President Obama released a campaign video featuring former President Bill Clinton praising him for the mission that successfully took the life of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. While I celebrated along with the rest of America when this enemy of this nation was eradicated last spring, and credit the President for being at the helm when it took place, this type of crass political jockeying in the arena of national security is both inexcusable and unbecoming the President of the United States. It is incumbent on members of the military to speak up on this matter.
On the May evening last year when the President announced to the American people that Bin Laden had been killed in a heroic mission by the Navy SEALS, he used the personal pronoun “I” 10 times. This mission was the culmination of a decade of effort from members of the American political, defense, and security communities, and came at the price of thousands of lives within the United States military. It was these heroes, not the political class, who were being honored by the millions of Americans who took to the streets that night in celebration.
Recognizing this, President Obama then made the decision to declare just days later that “we would not spike the football” in celebration of this achievement. In line with this assertion, he refused to publicly show the body of Osama bin Laden, par for the course for a President who has repeatedly refused to declare radical Islam and the terrorist cells it spawns as an enemy of the United States, expressly because he claims to be afraid of “inflaming” the Arab Street.
So, for the past three years, we have watched as the White House has criticized our soldiers for perceived wrongs against our enemies, catered to terrorists by pushing to end advanced interrogation techniques, and promised to close Guantanamo Bay. This may have been excusable if he had stayed consistent with the idea that this would improve our standing with the Muslim world. But now, in the middle of a closely contested election, these sensitivities have apparently gone out the window. It is now White House policy, assumedly, to not only spike the football, but also engage in an excessive end-zone celebration.
This series of events is both inconsistent and highly improper. Had the President proven himself to be a strong leader on national security from day one by demonstrating a willingness to call our enemies what they are, this would show a continuation of the strong leadership that makes the world look up to the United States. But in the manner in which it was done, it is hypocritical and transparent — an election stunt to divert the public from the economic and foreign policy failures of this Administration.
In 1940, as World War II loomed, Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie gave his support to his opponent — Franklin Roosevelt — in his push for a peacetime draft. Later in life, Willkie remarked that on his epitaph, he would rather have that he “contributed to freedom” than that he was a President. President Obama could not display behavior that is any more oppositional to this. As a veteran, I would ask the American people to remember that we are still at war, and our soldiers are still at risk. That is why we should demand that we have a President who would rather contribute to freedom than one whose only concern is to contribute to his own re-election bid.
Jim Adams, a resident of Pittsfield, is a Vietnam veteran, US Navy 1968 – 1972. Additionally he served as chief of staff to the Postmaster General and has served on the Executive Committee of the US Department of Defense WW II 50th Anniversary Committee.