China Has Our Jobs. but Not Our Navy Seals!

Newsweek, February 6, 2012 | Go to article overview
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China Has Our Jobs. but Not Our Navy Seals!


By Tina Brown

In the middle of self-serving and greedy electioneering, there was such nobility to the U.S. Navy SEALs rescue of a 32-year-old former fourth-grade teacher from the clutches of brutal Somali pirates (one of whom was named Osman Alcohol). It was like hearing from afar the lost chords of "America the Beautiful." SEAL Team 6 has become a more vivid symbol of the power of the great American idea than positive GDP statistics. Maybe the Chinese are more willing to bully their workforce out of bed in their spartan corporate dorms to crank out iPhone screens through the weary dawn, but can you ever imagine their leader giving an order for a fleet of military helicopters to set off in the dead of night to a heavily armed African hellhole and snatch back an endangered young do-gooder?

obama the professor has become Obama the Caped Crusader when it comes to commanding America's killing machine. The cool temperament that in everyday governing can be aggravatingly "aloof" has turned out to be stunningly well suited to national-security decisions--to those fabled 3 a.m. phone calls. The last time we went into Somalia, we had Black Hawk Down. This time it was a sleek stealth operation that left most of the enemy dead. As Dan Klaidman writes: "From the earliest days of his administration he began pushing his generals to pursue missions that were surgical and narrowly tailored to clearly defined objectives ... What he did not want to do was open up new fronts in the war on terror or get drawn into fighting local insurgencies around the world."

With these thrillingly successful raids, it's almost as if Obama has figured out a way to keep dramatizing an alternative presidency, one where he can make the kind of resounding executive decisions that elude him in politics.

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China Has Our Jobs. but Not Our Navy Seals!
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