Friday, May 6, 2011

Where Credit Is Due

In our incessant 25/8 news cycle, nothing happens without an ensuing controversy. In what should be a self-satisfied victory lap for the Obama administration for the assassination of Osama bin Laden, controversies abound for said assassination. Was bin Laden armed or not? Did he use a woman as a human shield? How much did Pakistan know? And, most annoyingly, who deserves the credit for putting the World's #1 Bad Guy down.

While many are surprised that the last controversy has begun to swell, we really shouldn't be. There are many out there who absolutely despise Obama and everything that he's done. Many of them will simply refuse to give him any credit for anything. It's much like when my boy Bart in Blazing Saddles disposes of the behemoth bad guy, Mongo, with an exploding candy gram. His white sidekick, Jim, congratulates Bart on his ingenious invention, and Bart says something along the lines of "Yeah, but they'll never give me credit for it."

So many of them want to give Bush as much credit as is humanly possible. Many because, as I said, they simply don't want to credit Obama for anything--even when he does something they like. Others because they want to justify the use of torture--sorry, "enhanced interrogation." One can't blame them, of course. There is an ongoing federal investigation in the Justice Department of many of the proponents of torture and what they did or did not do during their time in the Bush administration.

Others want to give the bulk of the credit to the intelligence agency and the SEAL team that actually executed the execution. Now, of course I doff my cap to the latter. To pull off what they did takes balls of granite. You definitely wouldn't see me out there. But come on now ... these are soldiers. It's not like they're John Rambo out there "going rogue" and killing scores of people without orders from above. After all, special forces units watched bin Laden and his cronies scamper away from the scene at Torah Borah back in 2001. They begged their superiors to give chase but were begged off by their higher-ups. These SEALs, as courageous as they are, simply follow orders. And someone had to give those orders.

While I understand why some on the Right refuse to give credit to Obama for anything (after all, I hated W., I know where you're coming from--though I did like how he forced Milosovic to the Hague and many will tell you he did some very good work in Africa), the simple truth of the matter is Presidents get credit for the things that happen under their watch. Truman was given credit for ending World War II. H.W. Bush is given credit for ending the Cold War. And now Obama will be given credit for taking down bin Laden.

Three Presidents have tried, and he succeeded. Clinton lobbed missiles at OBL after the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. He also gave Tenet the green light to assassinate bin Laden. The former CIA director (according to Tim Weiner in Legacy of Ashes) had two or three shots to expedite the terrorist's trip to the houri but lacked the determination to do so.

As I said, Bush's people pretty much had the guy at Torah Borah, but nobody gave the order to finish the job. I also understand (just having heard it today) that by the end of his Presidency, W. was so disillusioned with the hunt for bin Laden that he disassembled the special forces team put together to hunt the guy down.

Obama reassembled that team. He made Afghanistan a priority, approved a surge, and stepped up those "extralegal" Predator drone bombings in Pakistan. He was the one who acted on the available intelligence, was willing to take what would have been a grand-ass fall if he'd have been wrong and ordered a military operation within the sovereign borders of a key "ally," and pulled the whole thing off.

Now, I actually think that there are tons of things we don't know about this "War on Terror." There are things we won't discover for another 20-30 years when they declassify a lot of what's been going on this past decade in our name. And, even still, there are things we will probably never know. But from what we do know, there is one person who most definitely deserves credit for what happened on May 1st (aside from my celebrating my 41st birthday, of course).

Many on the Right will refuse to admit it even to their dying breath, but they know the truth. They know, we all know, and the history books will reflect that it was none other than the man currently residing in the White House.

What we don't know--and what I feel is the most pressing question after the death of Osama bin Laden--is when will this "War on Terror" and, more importantly, the war in Afghanistan end. Mission creep has run a most aggravating marathon in this past decade. But the original task, the killing of bin Laden, has finally been accomplished. Can't we just remotely kill off the terrorists we come across, leave the corrupt Karzai regime and the ever-duplicitous Pakistanis to their own devices now, and concentrate on our problems at home?

No comments:

Post a Comment