At the End of the Day: Thoughts on bin Laden’s Death
This is the obligatory diary entry on the death of Osama bin Laden. However, I would like to approach this from a slightly different angle and along the way touch on some of the thoughts echoed by other writers here on Red State. I had the unfortunate opportunity to check in on some Left websites to see what they were saying about these events. I am not talking about the New York Times, MSNBC, or CNN- liberal mouthpieces that front as news organizations. I am talking about sites like Gawker, Slate, Salon, Democratic Underground and the lowest of the low, Think Progress. As best as I can tell, their articles center around three main themes.
The first theme is their tendency to attack the Right for our failure to lay celebratory palms at the feet of Barack Obama. There is the inconvenient fact that bin Laden just happened to be killed on the watch of Obama’s administration. However, what they fail to realize is that Obama in particular, and the Left in general, would never admit that the policies of the previous administration may have just played a role in the whole affair. In a certain way, I liken this to an historical analogy. Harry Truman had to make a major decision at the end of World War II as to whether use the atomic bomb on the Japanese, just as Obama had to make a decision whether to take out bin Laden. However, Truman would have never had the tools to make that decision in the first place if his predecessor had not laid the groundwork by approving the Manhattan Project. Likewise, Obama would have never been placed in the position of making his decision if not for the policy decisions of his predecessor.
Although the full story will come out in due course, based on what we know now, we happened to track bin Laden through identification of his trusted courier. We learned his identity from captured terrorist detainees. Some reports say it came about from interrogations at Gitmo while other reports suggest it may have happened in secret CIA detention centers abroad. Many on the Right have rushed to say this came about as a result of enhanced interrogation techniques, although that much is unclear. To hear Rumsfeld speak, its possible, but he has no knowledge of it. Regardless, even the Left concedes that the identity of the courier came about as the result of intelligence obtained from terrorist detainees about four years ago (on Bush’s watch). We also know that upon assuming office, Obama shut down many of these successful operations. Therefore, it become quite obvious that either the information was obtained during the Bush Administration as a result of his policies, OR that Obama is a liar and has continued the policies and practices he claims he has ceased. He cannot have it both ways. Over at Slate, writer Josh Voorhees dedicates a whole article to this area of discussion titled “Should Bush Get Credit?” In conclusion, it is obvious that the Bush Administration is due some credit for the death of bin Laden.
The second theme of their discussions centers around the erroneous conclusion that this marks the end of the war on terror, or at least our military presence in the region. Barney Frank has said that this action should hasten our withdrawal from Afghanistan based on the equally erroneous assumption that our only reason for being in Afghanistan was to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. In fact, the reasons for even entering Afghanistan was to remove the Taliban who provided a safe haven for terrorist organizations in that country. A secondary purpose was to capture or kill bin Laden. They trot out the statements by Bush that he did not think a lot about bin Laden. In fact, by the time he made those statements, bin Laden was on the run and had been marginalized. Even the Left concedes that by the time of his death, he had been marginalized and was mainly a spiritual figurehead within the organization and money provider. So it would appear that the words of Bush they use against him to prop up the acumen on Obama is, in the end, nothing but words taken out of context.
As for Iraq, I will admit that our reasons for entering there were kind of shifty. Was it to rid the region of WMDs based upon what we now know to be faulty intelligence, to remove a mad man (regime change), etc? Additionally, I personally had problems with the execution of that war or, more appropriately, the victory. But that is all history. Once, there, ironically it is the policies of Bush again that allow Obama to today start withdrawing troops from Iraq. Remember that Obama was not only against the war, but also against the troop surge which proved largely successful. In other words, Obama is even in Iraq reaping the benefits of a Bush policy decision.
Concerning the operation itself, there is considerable hang-wringing over such issues as foreign sovereignty and assassinations. It is ludicrous that the Democratic Underground rewrites history when they state that the correct way to wage war on terror is not through military invasion, but through international law enforcement methods, although they now add “…and special forces operations.” The Left is seriously mistaken or naive to believe that the death of bin Laden somehow ends the overall war on terror. Hell, in classic Orwellian fashion, they cannot even acknowledge it as a “war.”
The final theme of their criticisms involves the spontaneous demonstrations by people in the streets of New York, Washington and elsewhere. They more or less call it a form of faux patriotism probably because the notion of patriotism in general is foreign to the Left. They reason why any American should feel proud of their country given our mythical sins domestically and abroad. Salon berates the chants of “U-S-A” as being based on a sports chant. In a related story, Slate questions whether this action reassures the re-election of Barack Obama in 2012 which leads me to another point. On the RightNetwork, blogger Jim Hoft suggests that the celebrations outside the White House and the chants of “U-S-A,” “four more years,” and “Yes we can” were somehow instigated by Leftist or Democratic plants. That is Hoft, suggests these spontaneous celebrations in Washington were somehow astroturfed. I too have my doubts and this is the reason. If these celebrants really were DC residents, it would follow that they would equate the death of bin Laden with the assured re-election of Obama since in 2008 DC overwhelmingly voted for Obama. If they were dumb enough to do that in 2008, they are just as dumb to make this equation in 2011.
At the end of the day, however, it must be realized that the United States is still at risk to terrorist attack to the same degree we were on April 30th, 2011. At the end of the day, removal of the marginalized, figurehead leader of Al Queda makes little difference here. Their hatred of the United States and our values and way of life predate the emergence of Al Queda and bin Laden. At the end of the day, there are still threats to our security that demand a strong national defense and, dare I say, our military presence abroad. At the end of the day, unemployment still exceeds 8% and gasoline still costs $4 a gallon and mortgages are still going into default as American citizens are over-taxed to fund a growing and expanding Federal government that impinges on the everyday life and decisions of the People. At the end of the day, Obama may have a feather in his foreign policy cap, but his lack of overall understanding of foreign affairs in general and setbacks elsewhere kind of sully that feather. Sure, he will use this in his campaign speeches and commercials. Let us give him credit for making the right decisions here, but let’s give equal credit to his predecessor for laying the groundwork. Let us also realize that it takes only one successful terrorist attack to sober the current elation. But most importantly, let us give our greatest thanks and gratitude to the unnamed 30 or so operatives who carried out this mission and thanks to the military and intelligence services who remain our best hope for winning the war on terror despite the occupant of the White House.