The Courage in Killing Bin Laden?

Right From the Start

President Barack Obama is out taking his victory lap on the killing of master terrorist, Usama Bin Laden. That despite his promise of one year ago (May 4, 2011) in an interview with CBS’ Steve Kroft to “not spike the ball” on the killing of Mr. Bin Laden. Like most of Mr. Obama’s promises, this too was written in the wind.

Mr. Obama has used the killing of Mr. Bin Laden as an example of his “courageous leadership” and, without a shred of evidence, inferred that Republican challenger, Gov. Mitt Romney, would not have had the courage to do the same. So let’s examine Mr. Obama’s courage.

First of all, Mr. Obama was sitting in a secure bunker in the White House when all of this took place. He faced no imminent threat either from possible immediate retaliation or the difficulty of decision making under live fire. There’s not much courage required when you treat war like a video game. In this instance “courage” was manifested by the men of Seal Team Six who actually carried out the mission despite the unanticipated crash of one of the helicopters and the ensuing necessity to affect entry from an alternative point.

Second, if any courage was shown by Mr. Obama, it was the courage to take a political risk – not a personal risk, not a financial risk, and, really, not much of a political risk. Mr. Obama had pretty much immunized himself from any responsibility for a potential failed mission. He had the assurances of his intelligence corps, his military corps, and his diplomatic corps that Mr. Bin Laden was in the compound, that the plan of attack would succeed and that the international fallout from the raid would be negligible. And if all, or any of them, had been wrong, Mr. Obama could and would have pointed the finger and said “NOT MY FAULT.”

Third, from the beginning Mr. Obama intended to use a successful raid for political purposes. He was in a secure bunker used for military planning and intelligence briefing. And yet, there were the cameras and the microphones gathering every word and picture. Had the mission failed, these historic recordings would have been buried until after the completion of Mr. Obama’s presidency. But given the mission’s success the most valuable pictures of a “grim” president and his “worried” advisors were immediately released to the world.

Look, I don’t blame Mr. Obama for trying to use the killing of Mr. Bin Laden to bolster his weak military and diplomatic record. In doing so, Mr. Obama is just like every other cheap politician trying to take credit for someone else’s success while insulating himself from any possible failure.

But while we are allowing Mr. Obama his “victory lap” let’s make sure that we also acknowledge his greater efforts. Mr. Obama widely criticized Pres. George W. Bush for his invasion of Iraq and proclaimed that Mr. Bush was fighting the wrong war and the “war that we must win” was the one in Afghanistan. And despite his promise to immediately end the war in Iraq, Mr. Obama allowed it to trail on for three more years with no intention of winning. From January 22, 2009 to date, two hundred fifty-seven young men and women have died in Iraq – not in pursuit of winning a war, but in pursuit of not taking the blame for losing one. These are two hundred and fifty-seven men and women that died because Mr. Obama could not act decisively to either win or get out.

In Afghanistan, Mr. Obama’s “right war”, the “war we must win,” things are going equally poor because Mr. Obama remains unwilling to fight to win, or withdraw immediately. Today there are more American service men and women being killed by Afghan soldiers than by the Taliban. We have announced our intention to withdraw so far in advance of actually doing it that we have encouraged both the Taliban and Afghans to engage in sniper warfare and roadside bombings. There is no strategic value to Afghanistan. We destroyed their military capability and removed theTaliban in the initial invasion. Had we exited Afghanistan at that point with the promise to return with the same degree of ferocity shown initially, we would have found ourselves in no worse position that we are today but without the sacrifice of hundreds of young men and women who have died subsequent to the initial invasion. In this instance, Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush share equal blame although Mr. Obama had the luxury of seeing the failure of “nation building” under Mr. Bush and elected to continue it anyway.

I am not a pacifist. I am a realist. I understand that war is a horrendous and brutal act. People die and things get blown up. In combat men and women are reduced to their most base instincts and their actions are reflective of survival not some geopolitical ideal. Despite that, war is necessary at times. And when it is necessary it should be fought with overwhelming force and without regard to political niceties. It is war and not a diplomatic waltz.

There is no difference between Mr. Obama and Pres. Lyndon Johnson and Pres. Richard Nixon and their conduct of the Viet Nam War. Over fifty-seven thousand of our young men and women died in a war that these two cowards would not fight to win and lacked the courage to withdraw. These were the young men and women of my generation. That is the reason that I participated in the anti-war movement during the ‘60’s.

I leave it to you to decide whether Mr. Obama is courageous or a coward.