Over at the Weekly Standard, Dean Barnett goes after Andrew Bacevich’s latest op-ed, apparently ignoring Jamie Sneider’s advice against picking fights with paleocons. Barnett didn’t lose any fingernails in the process, as far as I can tell, but I don’t find his rebuttal persuasive. I don’t dispute that the Bush administration deserves some credit for the lack of domestic terrorist attacks since 9/11. They would certainly receive their share of the blame if another attack were to occur. I am persuaded that some of the administration’s actions have weakened al Qaeda. But this argument, and credit, has its limits. Thought experiment: There were no jihadist attacks on American soil between the first World Trade Center bombing and the 9/11 attacks (there were, of course, such attacks on U.S interests abroad, in addition to the Oklahoma City bombing). Does that fact invalidate all criticisms of the Clinton administration’s foreign policy? I don’t think it does, and doubt Barnett does either.
The one aspect of Bacevich’s op-ed I’d like to take up: He seems to be qualifying his support of Obama, or at least becoming more skeptical that an Obama administration would radically change foreign policy. The hope that was evident in Bacevich’s American Conservative essay is still there, but in his Globe column he seems to want Obama to supply some evidence as well.