When he was running for the presidency in 2007-08, there were not so subtle whispers and inferences made about whether a not-even-one-term U.S. senator from Illinois with no significant executive or security experience was up to the task of being Commander in Chief in a post-9/11 era. His biggest opponent at the time, then NY Sen. Hillary Clinton, put out a blistering television ad questioning whether Sen. Barack Obama had the mettle to handle a 3AM phone call to the White House from somewhere in the world where a crisis was occurring. More than three years later, there have been a number of all hours phone calls that President Obama has had to deal with. He’s not only shown he can handle them, but he has something else to point out – one helluva body count.

For as hard as his full-throated detractors may like to infer that President Obama is a weak-kneed leftist without the cojones to defend America and keep her secure, on his watch he’s taken out more than his share of bad guys. Through the use of SEAL Team Six, UAVs and other strategic military and intelligence assets, he’s sent an impressive list of bad guys to their ultimate judgment. These aren’t just any bad guys though – they include names like Osama Bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as any number of other al Qaeda types. After the recent events in Libya, I guess it is only fair that we add Moammar Qaddafi to that list.

While the U.S. role in the final take down of Qaddafi may have been limited to an unmanned Predator drone that flew in support of French air forces, Gadhafi made his exit in this life on Obama’s watch and direction. That’s not insignificant. The man referred to as the “mad dog” of the Middle East by President Reagan survived multiple U.S. airstrikes in the 1980s but also numerous other assassination attempts during his 42-year bloody reign.

For as muddled and disjointed as the Obama Administration’s Libya incursion policy of “leading from behind” may have been, Qaddafi is dead and that’s a metric no other U.S. President can attest to during their term of office.

While there are no public trophies President Obama can hang in the Oval Office (e.g., the stuffed and mounted heads of Bin Laden et al.), the way President Teddy Roosevelt might have done more than a century before to display the big game he had taken down so as to impress foreign dignitaries, Members of Congress or other visitors, Obama has become a big game hunter himself. Any efforts to infer that he has not taken to the more militaristic side of his 24-7 job ring absolutely hollow.

There is plenty to debate about the President’s leadership abilities in multiple other areas, but in this facet of his job, his critics in this area of his job performance look very small and at times, very petty. Obama has the ultimate metrics that Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush would have loved to have had but don’t.

Call it luck, fortune or fate, but if I were one of the remaining despotic leaders left holding onto power with increasingly slippery hands (e.g., Syria’s Assad, Yemen’s Saleh, etc.), an exit strategy to some remote corner of the world with a suitcase full of cash that prevented an angry mob from dragging my battered and lifeless body through the streets might not be a bad idea. Furthermore, if I’m Vladimir Putin or some other world leader, I might be looking at Obama a tad differently than I had before given his 2011 streak.

All of these facts paint Obama as a sort of “giant-killer in chief” and have to make the leftist and kumbaya-swaying “let’s all have peace” crowd go out of their minds. The man they saw as the anti-war, peace-nik messiah has learned to channel his inner Rambo and Dirty Harry and not take any prisoners when it comes to the big game prizes. The Nobel Committee that awarded Obama its coveted Peace Prize has to be further bewildered because the guy they honored for not being George W. Bush has killed the very guys that George W. Bush and other U.S. Presidents didn’t get.

For the far right-wing crowd, they are just as bewildered. The guy they thought was a puffed up wussy has crossed names off the bad guy list with increasing ease. In the security game, those are some impressive metrics and can’t be ignored, regardless of how you feel about the man or his policies. They are all a part of history and when the final chapters on this era are written, it will be Obama’s name directly associated with the demise of people the world is far better without.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More
  • Gptwyman

    Yes, I agree. I think it’s commendable that President Obama has allowed our special operations forces to continue to do the difficult, demanding job for which they were trained and for which they took great personal risk and sacrifice to execute. I’m fairly certain that President Obama did not take part in any of the operational(tactical) planning for the execution of these critical missions. However,as the current commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces, he was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time as years of grueling, determined,dedicated
    intelligence work came to fruition. My compliments to President Obama.