A soft economy has cemented the focus of the 2012 presidential election on economic issues, with little attention paid to national security, a topic often considered a Republican strength. But with Osama bin Laden dead and no new terror attacks during his term, President Barack Obama isn’t seen as weak on the war on terror. Dan Byman, a senior fellow with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, and Campaign 2012 Project Director Benjamin Wittes break down Obama’s counterterrorism record in his first term, and how it will be characterized in the election.
[Republicans will] try to avoid those tough questions [about the Afghanistan withdrawal and its aftermath] and tell themselves a story that Trump would’ve done it differently, it just would’ve been done better. The reality is that’s pretty unlikely. [... Restrainers] got what they wanted on this occasion, but the costs of the strategy are undeniable — it was extremely difficult and came at a very high price. The restrainers have been saying for a while that if you pull back, the sky won’t fall in. Now I think there’s a greater awareness that it’s a very difficult strategy to pursue.