It’s often amazing to try to reconcile political “narratives” and actual events. For a while now, President Obama’s critics on the right have insisted that he isn’t aggressive enough on counter-terrorism, seems distracted, and refuses to prioritize national security concerns, especially where suspected terrorists are concerned.
And yet, the narrative keeps running into real-world developments like these.
Ahmed Abdi Godane – the leader of al Shabab, the Islamic militant organization behind the siege on a mall in Kenya last year – was killed in a U.S. military strike earlier this week, an al Shabab source told NBC News on Friday.The Pentagon confirmed the death later in the day.“Removing Godane from the battlefield is a major symbolic and operational loss to al Shabab,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman. “The United States works in coordination with its friends, allies and partners to counter the regional and global threats posed by violent extremist organizations.”
According to the NBC News report, a U.S. security official added, “It’s a big win. He was operationally savvy and ideologically driven, with aspirations off the charts.”
As msnbc reported last year, Godane, who was also known by his alias Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, had pledged loyalty to the core al Qaeda leadership. Christopher Anzalone, a scholar at George Mason University’s Center for Global Islamic Studies, said Godane “has always been very transnational in his outlook.”
Obviously not anymore.
So how does the “Obama is conveying weakness on terror!” crowd deal with a successful counter-terrorism mission like this? By all appearances, they address the story by ignoring it – the developments don’t fit into the agreed upon narrative, and therefore don’t count.
Though I didn’t agree with all of his piece, Jeffrey Goldberg argued the other day that Obama “is better at killing terrorists than he is at talking about killing terrorists.”
[T]hose who argue that Obama is AWOL from the fight against terrorism, or who think it was disastrous that he admitted last week that he does not yet have a strategy to counter Islamic State, are missing (perhaps on purpose) a couple of very obvious points.The first point concerns the actual war on terror that the administration has been waging. It is important to remember that Obama is perhaps the greatest killer of terrorists in American history…. Obama has launched strikes against Islamist terror targets in several countries. He has devastated the leadership of core al Qaeda, and just this week – as Washington opinion-makers collectively decided that he was hopelessly weak on terror – the president launched a (quite possibly successful) strike in Somalia against the leader of al-Shabaab, a terror group nearly as bloodthirsty as Islamic State.And here’s the important bit – at the same time the White House is the target of relentless complaints that it has not done enough to combat Islamic State, Obama is actually combating Islamic State, launching what appear to be, at this early stage, fairly effective strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq.