Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden: Good Riddance

Let history record that Osama bin Laden was killed on President Barack Obama’s watch, and that the order to capture or kill him came from the President. This could not have happened without the strategy he announced at the beginning of his presidency, scaling back our involvement in Iraq while re-engaging the fight in Afghanistan. He also enacted the policy he announced during the Democratic primary debates in 2007, that he would not hesitate to move against bin Laden in Pakistan if credible intelligence was found. Hillary Clinton and others pooh-poohed Senator Obama’s statements as proof that he was not experienced enough to be president.

Let’s review a bit of history: The mission to capture Osama bin Laden “dead or alive” began under President George W. Bush following the 9/11 attacks. Bush dropped the ball very early on in Afghanistan, when he committed far too few troops to the mission – fewer troops, in fact, than the number of police in Manhattan. America’s mission in Afghanistan was further eroded when Bush began beating the drum for war against Iraq, based on phony intelligence of weapons of mass destruction and a supposed “link” between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda – both of which proved false. By the time Obama was sworn into office, most intelligence pointed to Pakistan as bin Laden’s most likely location. Our people acted on that intelligence, often gained by following the movements of couriers and less on highly touted satellite technology.

Osama bin Laden is now dead. The world is still a dangerous place. Al Qaeda is still very much a force for terrorism. But the symbolic importance of this day cannot be overestimated. President Obama’s actions vindicate his policies vis-à-vis the war on terror, including his decision to recommit to Afghanistan - which was met with criticism from the left and right. Abroad, it is a reminder of American persistence. At home, it soundly refutes the notion - touted by birthers, schoolers, and political opportunists - that Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency was some kind of conspiracy or that he was a “Manchurian candidate” in a plot to Islamify the world.

Our entire armed forces, from those who conducted this raid to the Commander in Chief, deserve a round of thanks for their efforts. But the best way we can thank our troops is to refrain from endangering them unless absolutely vital to our national security.

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