Obama, Own Your Secret Wars

Irony pervades President Obama’s place in foreign policy today. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to roll back the nuclear bomb, the signature weapon of the 20th century, but he has also broken new ground in the use of revolutionary military technologies — from the armed drone to cyber weaponry — that may well become the signature weapons of the 21st century.

As the controversy continues about secret drone strikes and leaked legal documents, Obama promised in his State of the Union address last week to work with Congress to make the drone program, now shrouded in secret, more transparent.

But the problem is that a tipping point has already been reached, and it’s not just a matter of playing nice with Congress. A veil of official semi-silence surrounds these new technologies, the policy that guides them and their growing use in what can only be described as not-so-covert operations. When crucial information does come out, it’s most often through leaks to the press.

It is time for a new approach. And all that is required of the President is to do the thing that he does perhaps best of all: to speak.

Obama has a unique opportunity — in fact, an urgent obligation — to create a new doctrine, unveiled in a major presidential speech, for the use and deployment of these new tools of war.

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