It is now roughly five months since President Barack Obama announced a new direction for U.S. counterterrorism strategy.
“America is at a crossroads,” Obama said at the National Defense University in May. “We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us.”
The president proceeded to set out his post-war vision for the nation — the peace dividend earned for the last 12 years of a complicated, costly and at times tragically misguided counterterrorism policy. The president, as usual, gave a good speech. Where he’s weak is on the follow-through, however.
Though five months isn’t that long, when it comes to a war that involves killing and indefinitely detaining a vaguely defined enemy, time is of the essence. It’s also critical to restoring U.S. credibility around the globe, particularly around the constitutional principles the president repeatedly emphasized.
Obama has taken a few steps in the right direction since May. As promised, he appointed an envoy at the State Department to focus on transferring Guantanamo detainees to their home countries, and just this month appointed someone in charge at the Pentagon as well. He’s sent home two of the 86 prisoners already cleared for transfer.