In the Arena

The War on Al Qaeda

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Peter Baker has a solid, timely piece about Obama and terrorism coming in the NY Times magazine–so timely that the magazine jumped its publication date by two weeks and posted the story on the Times’ website today.

The piece is detailed, and excellent, in describing the similarities and differences between the Bush and Obama counter-terrorism strategies–although the bottom line appears to be that they’re more similar than different. Indeed, Baker spoke to a half-dozen Bush Administration officials who thought so, but were reluctant to say it publicly because they didn’t want to get into trouble with the “Cheney circle.”

You’ve got to wonder about this. Bush moderated his foreign policy and pushed Cheney slightly to the side in his second term. I wonder how much of a public rift is going to develop between Bush and Cheney when the two publish their memoirs (I assume that Cheney’s will (a) be more rifty and (b) sell more copies than Bush’s). You also have to wonder whether there will be a Bush-Cheney foreign policy bifurcation among GOP presidential candidates in 2012. In any case, this is still more evidence that the wingers have the whip-hand in the Republican Party these days: it seems clear that the mid-ranking Bush intelligence officials whom Baker has talked to–people who’ll be looking for jobs in the next Republican Administration–think that Cheneyism is the party’s future.