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Obama's Navigation Through National Insecurity
6/24/2014 8:41:34 AM

Hakim Hazim
By Hakim Hazim

As African Americans we don’t write a great deal about national security. Engrossed in past and current domestic injustices we continue to suffer, we tend to focus on education, jobs, poverty, Black-on-Black crime and the myriad other issues that beset us. But it’s important to understand the world we all live in regardless of race. The world we live in is becoming increasingly unstable and we need to arm ourselves with a systemic view that both embraces this reality and forges a way forward that will benefit everyone. Our President is trying to do just that, and he needs our voices, our support.

President Obama inherited a dangerous world filled with ongoing wars, shadowy terrorists—domestic and international—, a bellicose Russia, noncompliant Iran, and a collective intelligence community our citizens no longer trusted. His rapid rise through the American political process was hailed as a monumental achievement, not simply because of race, but also because of our nation’s willingness to embrace him. Obama deserves credit for reviving the economy in this country, but he has been unfairly criticized for a foreign policy that simply is too much for any Commander in Chief to handle. Consequently, Obama is on the ropes receiving his lowest approval ratings of his presidency in the most recent NBC/WSJ poll – 6/18/2014.

We are in an age of national insecurity and have been for some time. The impetus behind our current state of insecurity was the Al Qaeda attack of September 11, 2001. We have never been the same since, and we never will be again. National security and law enforcement merged in a way previously thought unlikely and unconstitutional.

There were a series of salient questions the G.W. Bush administration tried to answer after the attack:
1. What should we do?
2. What agencies would be involved?
3. Who are the real versus perceived enemies?
4. What type of war would we fight?
5. When could we declare victory?

Our initial answer was shortsighted and can be described with one word: overreach—in every way imaginable. What followed was a doctrine of preemption, two wars, torture, wire taps, rendition, erosion of privacy, and ultimately a hydra effect in which no matter how many heads we chop off, more grow in their place. In short, we did not anticipate a perpetual conflict with enemies that fight to implement austere versions of faith that are no longer palatable in the modern world, but this is exactly what we have. The global, radical ideology that threatens to infect the minds of gullible young people is not limited to any particular nation-state; it flows into the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised, misunderstood and in some cases the plain old blood thirsty types.

As an African American I have a sense of pride that the two men primarily responsible for our safety at home and abroad are President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. But more importantly, I have a sense of soberness regarding the gravitas of their responsibilities. As Holder directs the FBI to hunt down domestic and international terrorists, Obama continues to oversee the removal of troops from Afghanistan, while pondering his options to collaboratively deal with the resurgent terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in the emerging sectarian war between Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East.

Our president has a lot on his plate in regard to the various security dilemmas the world is engrossed. Many people will never let up on their criticism of the president or even attempt to understand how he is navigating the landscape. They will politicize the current state of affairs and attempt to score points with a public that is largely illiterate in terms of security and international relations. In this current state of national insecurity, the president does not need more criticism and scrutiny; he needs support, and better ideas.

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