American special forces raided into Somalia early this morning and rescued two aid workers, one American woman and one Danish man, and killed their captors, nine Somali pirates. President Obama reportedly authorized the raid on Monday and said in a statement after the operation: “This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people.” And last night before his State of the Union address, the president appeared to congratulate Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on the raid’s success. Reuters reports:
Obama was overheard congratulating Panetta on the success of the operation as the president entered the U.S. House of Representatives chamber on Tuesday for his annual State of the Union speech.
Panetta had been at the White House, where he had monitored the progress of the operation, before the speech. The raid was still being wrapped up when the president spoke to him.
“Leon. Good job tonight. Good job tonight,” said Obama.
The American commandos who rescued the two aid workers this morning were, as the New York Times reports, “drawn from the same Navy commando unit that killed Osama bin Laden” — a point that highlights the president’s success in the face of threats to the security of the U.S. and its allies. Here are some examples since January 2009:
— TAKING OUT TERRORISTS: In addition to ordering the raids that killed bin Laden and al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Alwaki, dozens of high level terrorists have been taken out under President Obama’s watch.
— ISRAEL’S CAIRO EMBASSY: Last September, demonstrators in Cairo, Egypt ransacked the Israeli embassy calling for the Jewish state’s ambassador to be expelled after Israeli security forces killed Egyptian soldiers. President Obama intervened with U.S. assets to assist in evacuating the Israeli embassy staff. “I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Barack Obama,” Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said in a subsequent statement. “I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, ‘I will do everything I can.’ And so he did.”
— HOSTAGE RESCUE: The president’s first encounter with Somali pirates occurred just months after he took office. Then, Obama ordered Navy SEAL snipers to kill three pirates in order to free an American sea captain who had offered himself as a hostage to save his crew. “I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of piracy in that region and to achieve that goal, we’re going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks,” Obama said after the sea captain had been freed.
Throughout the presidential campaign this year, Republicans regularly charge that Obama appeases America’s adversaries. “President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy,” Mitt Romney said last month. The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan recently ran through a number of false claims the GOP presidential candidates constantly recycle, including the appeasement charge, and concluded, “None of this is even faintly connected to reality.”
Indeed, as the president himself said last month: “Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 other out of 30 top al Qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement.”