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May 02, 2012



Eric, to begin with, you were right to push for the ROTC returning to the Columbia campus. Students should not only free to join but also have the convenience to do so without traveling to some other campus.

Second, yes, you got it right with Obama in that he intensified attacks via drones and otherwise on Al Qaeda and allies in various locations. I was not in favor of the troop surge in Afghanistan but rather for Vice President Biden's concept, namely, to forget about nation-building but to have special forces fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Military in the ISAF alliance as well as civilians working in Afghanistan agree that the biggest problem in Afghanistan is corruption that reaches from the highest to the lowest level, in Kabul and in the provinces. The tremendous sums of money we put into that corrupt system has not moved us closer whatever objectives Washington has now and had in the past.
We should continue fighting the remaining terrorists and their supporters but Afghans themselves must rebuild their country and establish a stable society.

Eric Chen

Why I've called it the Al Qaeda phenomenon since the 9/11 attacks.

I understand the phenomonen dynamic as an activist myself. At Columbia, I started the campus ROTC movement in Spring 2002. In 2002-03, I was the main conceptual and organizational actor responsible for establishing the grassroots student-led ROTC campaign. Yet, although every student who took part in the 2002-03 campaign had long before graduated and departed campus, my goal was won when Columbia formally normalized relations with ROTC in Spring 2011.

By 2011, my leadership influence was nil. The majority of the student ROTC advocates on campus likely wouldn't have recognized my name. But in the years after we graduated, the CU ROTC phenomenon had continued to evolve and grow from the base my classmate advocates and I had established. I didn't need the ultimate victory to be wrought by my hands in order to fully enjoy it.

Osama bin Laden's actual reach may have been degraded by our long-war efforts by the time we killed him, but as a phenomenon, bin Laden had already accomplished what he first set out to do.

Off-topic: I'm writing a paper for a national security law class right now called 'Regime Change in Iraq in Clinton's 3rd term' - the public discourse really did greatly distort that Bush's Iraq policy was an inherited extension of Clinton's Iraq policy. While looking through my blog for material, I revisited our differing views on Obama's 2008 inauguration address, where I recognized Bush and Obama were kindred on foreign policy. You disagreed with me at the time.

So, Professor - did I call that one or what? Me to you, Jan 24, 2009 on this blog: "Obama's inaugural address was unreservedly liberal-hawkish. What stood out the most in the speech was that Obama was hardly circumspect about an aggressive transformative interventionist international role for America, what was called neo-conservative or liberal imperialism when pursued by the last administration."

Granted, I didn't anticipate then that President Obama would so heavily favor a kill-first policy compared to the capture/interrogate policy favored by the Bush administration.

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