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Obama deserves credit for his policies

POSTED: May 28, 2011 12:20 p.m.

Trevor Thomas' column of May 12 was disingenuous and misleading. In it, he stated that President Barack Obama rode President George W. Bush's coattails to find and kill Osama bin Laden.

He is entitled to his opinion, but the facts do not support that hypothesis as stated in this column. I would agree that there has been a continuity of many of the major Bush policy strategies in Afghanistan, but Obama has corrected three major strategic decisions in the execution of the war against al-Qaida in that region.

First, he reinvested in Afghanistan and withdrew combat troops from Iraq. He reassigned more than 30,000 troops from Iraq to Afghanistan in 2009-10. Bush attacked Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein in the "war on terror" when the facts show that Saddam had nothing to do with the attacks on the United States on 9/11. He was an enemy to al-Qaida as opposed to an ally, and had little, if any, dealings with Islamic terrorists.

Reversing this course plotted by the Bush administration, which cost us over 3,000 U.S. soldiers dead and tens of thousands injured, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars, was a big change that was executed by Obama and his team.

The second change was the increase in drone strikes in Afghanistan and the border lands in Waziristan and Pakistan. Actual drone strikes have increased 300 percent in Pakistan since Obama took over the war. He has kept his promise to attack terrorists locations wherever they are. By using drones instead of B-52s in conventional bombing, civilian casualties are reduced, which has calmed hostilities against the U.S.

The third change, much ballyhooed by conservative media and talk radio, was the fact he ordered Special Forces to attack Bin Laden inside Pakistan unilaterally without telling the Pakistani officials. Obama said he would do this in 2008 during a presidential debate with Sen. John McCain and at the time was much criticized for being "naive."

Well, it came to pass he did exactly what he said he would do. Bin Laden is dead, and we can look forward to getting our troops home from that part of the world in the near future.

None of these facts are debatable; they all are part of the public record. I know this very well because my son called his mom to wish her happy Mother's Day from Helmond Province in Afghanistan, just as he did last year.

For some of us, this is not a political debate; it is real life, as our sons and daughters face our enemies every day. And the military, which has done a remarkable job under each of the two presidents, deserve all the credit for a job well done. But Mr. Thomas is wrong to say that Bush policies alone led to this recent success.

There have been major tactical and strategic changes and they have been implemented by President Obama. If these changes bring my son and his fellow military members home sooner, I am all for it and I don't care at all whether he is a conservative or a liberal.

Jason Shreeram
Gainesville



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