Monday, May 2, 2011

He Didn't Screw It Up

Lord knows we have been harsh on President Obama in these pages.  But when he has done something right, we acknowledge it.  Killing Osama Bin Ladin is a really big deal (insert your language here, Mr. Biden), and congratulations to Obama for being the one on watch when it happened.  Despite the numerous "I's" and "me's" in his hour-late address last night, he deserves credit for being the C-in-C when this one went down.  The opportunities to have screwed this up were numerous - consider:

  • He could have done a Jimmy Carter and tried to "diversify" the operation by involving everyone - the Air Force, the Marines, the Army, the Coast Guard, the IRS.  Not only would this have compromised operational security, it would have most likely lead to the kind of catastrophe we witnessed at Desert One in Iran.
  • Obama, we are told, chose not to turn Osama into aerosol particles with a B-2 strike.  Without a long-form proof of death, the Arab world and the Taliban in particular would have run amok with rumors that OBL wasn't in the compound that got vaporized.
  • He could have insisted on Osama being taken alive so he could be turned over to the Eric Holder Justice Department and we could have had the entertainment of a trial on U.S. soil.  Frankly, I'm disturbed by reports coming out of the White House that they wanted him careful of what you wish for!  My guess is that even if those had been the orders, one of those Navy SEAL's, God bless them!, would have double-tapped OBL's brain anyway.
  • He could have told the Pakistanis we were coming.  Anyone with half a brain knows the ISI (Pakistan's Intelligence outfit) and the Paki army are riddled with Islamists...OBL would have been tipped off long before we got there.  Needless to say, there have to be some very nervous folks in the Pakistani establishment right now - heaven knows what we will find in the seized computers and other goodies we brought out of the compound.
I am sure I am probably missing a number of other ways Obama could have botched this thing, but he didn't.  It was an uncharacteristically gutsy call and he should be commended for making it.  He shouldn't have made such a gaudy "me, me, me" speech last night and he owed some thanks to his predecessor, the much maligned W who can now finally declare "Mission Accomplished." 

The real heroes in this though are the folks that day in and day out get the job done: our military.  As a retired Navy man, I am particularly proud to know that our SEAL's were the leading edge of the sword for this operation.  It is of great comfort to know that the last person Osama saw was a young American sailor and the last thing that went through his head was a US made 9-MM round. As a former Intel guy, I am also proud of the painstaking human intelligence that went into bringing this one to ground.  Big kudos to the CIA for a lot of hard, thankless work.  A big shout out goes to the boys at Guantanamo too - that was where the first strand that eventually led to OBL originated. We don't know if it was during one of the "surf's up" water boarding sessions, but a start is a start.

[Sidebar: How about the ultimate water board Osama got this morning in the Arabian Sea?]

A few afterthoughts:

  • For those on the left rejoicing that this ensures Osama's   Obama's (sorry, hard to avoid the typo) re-election - and those of you on the right despairing of the same, some advice from Jimmy Buffet: "breath in, breath out, move on."  We are a loooooong way away from the election with many rivers to cross.  Obama's re-election will hinge on whether unemployment gets below 9%.  As this event fades, people will remember it was the SEAL's and CIA that got OBL, not Obama.
  • This could be our ticket out of Afghanistan.  The original mission was to decapitate the Taliban and get Obama (dangit!) Osama.  We could use the savings and build schools over here where we don't blow them up regularly!  This could be a moment to declare victory and get out of that hell-hole.  Let it return to the thuggery of the past without U.S. Marines and Army soldiers in the middle.
  • Spec Ops guys rock the house, but we need to remember they are only one arrow in the quiver.  I am very much in favor of a leaner, more lethal military and the success of yesterday's raid is Exhibit A.  But those guys are only able to get there because of the larger network of assets available to them.  Let's not use this as an excuse to gut the military.
  • The war on terror is not over.  Al Qaida is designed to be cancerous and pop up in unexpected places.  They work on their own timetables and have probably anticipated that the day would come where OBL would either die of natural causes and old age or be finked out by someone in the Pakistani government.  They probably didn't anticipate that we would figure it out on our own, so that's a nice message to send.  Nevertheless, this will not end until the Islamic world deals with the crazies that the Shiites and Wahabists have created.  To paraphrase Golda Meir, peace will come when the Moslems are more concerned about having their children grow up to be productive members of society and not proud of them for blowing themselves up.  This is a  big step in a very long walk, but it is only a step.
At the end of the day, this was a good one for the good guys.

1 comment:

Jim Blackstock said...

Too much good. Couldn't comment any better.