Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Commanding-in-Chief

As details of Operation Osama emerge, a campaign promise by Barack Obama, widely disparaged by opponents then, comes back to recall his confidence about being Commander-in-Chief.

In 2007, he said, "It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.”

Musharraf is long gone, but his Pakistani successors are no more reliable than he was and, in going after bin Laden, President Obama did exactly what candidate Obama promised--bypass Pakistanis in their own country to finally nail America's Public Enemy No.1.

Behind-the-scenes accounts of White House decision-making now echo John F. Kennedy in his approach to the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which all options and contingencies were closely considered, with the President making the final calls. Bomb or send in troops? How do they fight their way out? If we do this and that happens--what if's and backup choices of every kind?

Photos of Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates et al tensely watching as the operation unfolds in real time tell more than thousands of words about what was at stake in a move to bypass an unreliable "ally" and go for broke to get bin Laden.

Failure could have been a diplomatic disaster. Bombing would have been safer, easier to explain away, but a hands-on attack would, as it did, provide sure proof of his death and provide some closure for Americans from 9/11 devastation.

What does all this reveal about Obama? Is he, like JFK, growing in stature after a dozen domestic versions of the Bay of Pigs in office? Has the professorial President finally shown the steel in his soul that critics, Right and Left, have been questioning since he took the oath?

When Barack Obama stands at Ground Zero in Manhattan Thursday for a victory lap to fulfill the promise that George W. Bush made with a bullhorn almost ten years ago, will he finally have quieted critics about his Commanding-in-Chief qualities?

And how well will he use them when Congress reconvenes next week for the Battle of the Budget?

As Republicans prepare for their first debate that night, how will they manage to vilify the man who gave the successful order to kill Osama bin Laden?

3 comments:

Octopus said...

To be perfectly honest, as an inhabitant of the sea and a solid citizen of the realm, you have no idea how much I resent those humans dumping trash in my backyard. Osama FIN Laden, indeed. Why not embalm and stuff him in a Tanqueray bottle; then call him Osama GIN Laden. As for Tonsil Dump (the one known as the hairpiece turned mouthpiece), why not call him Osama TWIN Laden.

And Rick (whose last name sounds like Sanitarium) should be renamed Osama SPIN Laden.

Mike L. said...

Failure could have been a diplomatic disaster.

Failing to act on a lead this hot would have been a political disaster. This thing was always in the hands of the CIA and the military as is absoutely necessary. No president has the time or knowledge to micromanage intelligence investigations or tactical operations. I think our biggest congratulations must go to the CIA and SEALs for pulling this off.

Keep in mind that much of the initial intelligence apparently came via Gitmo and "enhanced interrogation techniques," both of which Obama has opposed at times. It also took our President 16 hours to come to a rather obvious decision. Still, he did make the right call and he made it in time. Osama bit the dust and we can all be pleased Obama put on a decent performance.

Photos of Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates et al tensely watching as the operation unfolds in real time tell more than thousands of words about what was at stake in a move to bypass an unreliable "ally" and go for broke to get bin Laden.

I think the guys at AoSHQ explained this one rather well and, honestly, wouldn't you want to watch this on closed-circuit television if you were in Obama's shoes?

My only real problem with the decision-making was the attempt to hand the body over to Saudi Arabia or another Muslim country. Knowing how many will regard this guy as a martyr, why in the world would we even attempt that? I'm not sure who made that call or if it was just mindless operating procedure, but I'm glad nobody claimed the body.

Octopus said...

Mike L.: "Keep in mind that much of the initial intelligence apparently came via Gitmo and "enhanced interrogation techniques ..."

Another Bush apologist trying to justify the debacle of the post 9/11 years. Keep in mind that most interrogation experts disagree, that torture actually proved to be counter-productive, as this article attests: Torture may have slowed hunt for bin Laden.