Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Case for Capturing Osama bin Laden

Everyone wanted to "Get Osama". No one doubted the primacy of the immediate post 9/11 goal of either capturing or killing the initiating and motive force behind the 9/11 multiple hijackings, the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the heroically thwarted attack against the US Capitol, namely al Qu'aida and its most visible leader, Osama bin Laden. This goal was almost unanimously supported across the political spectrum in the US and surprisingly almost unanimously supported worldwide, including across most of the muslim world. The global outpouring of grief for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, support for American resolve to bring to justice the perpetrators of the attacks and the virtually unique sense of solidarity against the heinous tactic of terrorism as a political tool was unprecedented in history. Everyone felt the same.

That all soon changed.

When this Bush administration quickly made known its obsessive intent to divert most resources from the terminal phase of its hunt for bin Laden to its cherished plan to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein, global and domestic unity was forever shattered. Like Humpty-Dumpty, unity could never again be acheived.

Eschewing a rehashing of the motives, causes and errors of the shift to focus on the path forward, it appears clear the Bush administration and most of American media punditocracy no longer see the efficacy of vigorously renewing pursuit of Osama. One hears many justifications for this apparent blindness, to-wit: Osama bin Laden is hiding in a cave; al Qu'aida is no longer an effective terrorist organization; "Islamofascist" terrorists autonomously adopt the aims and tactics of al Qu'aida but have no official or effective ties to either al Qu'aida or bin Laden; Hezbollah/Hamas/Iran/Syria/N. Korea (pick one) is a far more potent threat to the US than Osama and/or al Qu'aida; etc. One has heard and continues to hear all of these justifications and more. They are all wrongheaded.

Resolve and steadfastness were positive characteristics once attributed to Bush. He deliberately forfeited any claim to those chacteristics. He took his eyes off the ball. He abandoned his game plan. Choose your metaphor. He blew it. Pure and simple. He continues to blow it. America suffers.

Suppose for the sake of argument Hezbollah/Iran/etc. today presents a clearer and more present danger to America than Osama and al Qu'aida. What would be a more forceful physical example to Hebollah's/Iran's/etc's leaders of America's resolve and determination to track down and bring to justice terorrists threatening America than the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden? Turn that on its head. What would be a more forceful physical example to Hebollah's leaders of America's lack of resolve and determination to track down and bring to justice terorrists threatening America than to fail to track down and bring to justice Osama bin Laden?

Put steely backbone into American foreign policy. Demonstrate to the world America means what it says, that we cannot be deterred or diverted, that there really is no place to hide, whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes.

Get Osama.



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