"On Our Terms"
by Patrick Appel
Hilzoy makes a smart additional point about Obama's executive orders on Gitmo and interrogations:
...it's...worth noting Obama's claim that he wants to win the war on terror "on our terms". One of the maddening aspects of the Bush administration's policies in this area was that they so consistently accepted al Qaeda's terms instead of creating their own. This was not just morally repellent, but stupid: in addition to sacrificing a whole lot of good will throughout the world, it made our actions a lot more predictable, and a lot easier to take advantage of.
Al Qaeda could never have destroyed our commitment to liberty, human rights, and the rule of law by itself. It could only hope that we would respond unthinkingly and do the dirty work ourselves. We obliged them, and in so doing did a lot more damage to ourselves than al Qaeda could ever have dreamed of doing.