Today one of the top terrorists of the al Qaeda network, American-born Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen. It's one of several successful take-downs of top level al Qaeda terrorists that have come in the wake of the May raid on Usama bin Laden's compound by Navy SEALs, where the man mainly responsible for the attacks of September 11th was finally killed.
It got me thinking about how, despite a reduced presence in the Middle East, we've managed to be doing pretty well when it came to fighting terrorists compared to how we were doing for nearly a decade. It soon became apparent that the difference could be compared to two distinct stereotypes of the silver screen: cowboys and gangsters.
Cowboys want a fight out in the open. When a cowboy was President of the United States, that's what we got: two foreign wars fought with full military mobilization. We wanted our targets alive, to follow up with gut-wrenching instances of interrogation to lead us to more. If not that, we surrendered them to tribal codes of law televised for the whole world to see. It was how we decided to fight against the threat of terrorism for eight years. In the end, however, it proved ineffective against the enemy we were fighting against; by the end of George W. Bush's second term the majority of top-level al Qaeda operatives and leaders remained at-large.
Gangsters choose to fight in the dark. Vicious gunfights in the middle of the street don't do much but alienate you from the neighborhood. Casting aside the criminal activities associated with true gangsters (just like we cast aside the criminal activities of true cowboys when comparing former Presidents to them) that's what we have in our current President Barack Obama. He comes from the land of backdoor politics, which is itself just a spin-off of the mafia mentality that's dictated Illinois's power structure for almost a century. This style has converted poorly when it comes to national domestic issues, but it reveals itself glaringly when it comes to the fight against terrorism.