Friday, May 6, 2011

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Last sunday, an American commando team stormed Osama Bin Laden's compound, killing him and the couriers who sheltered him. This is without a doubt the single largest achievement in the international war on Al Qaeda and its affiliates. This week, President Bush and his national security team have claimed credit for the killing of OBL.

It's a piteously selfish move, based on the pretense that they put in motion the events that led to OBL's death. And to some degree this is true; the Bush national security team allowed OBL to survive in Tora Bora and failed to focus singlemindedly on Al Qaeda. The failure of the Bush Administration's 'Global War on Terror/Struggle Against Islamic Extremism' led to this moment precisely because it had not achieved the goal that President Obama secured. Similar logic tells us that the economic recovery over which Obama is presiding is a result of President Bush's economic policies for encouraging the Great Recession.

Success has many fathers, but in this case the only ones who contributed to it are the intelligence officers, soldiers, military leadership, and analysts who focused on the capture or killing of OBL. Toppling Saddam Hussein's regime did not net Bin Laden. Nor did torturing key Al Qaeda prisoners. In fact, waterboarding merely succeeded in providing a flat denial of intelligence that eventually did lead to OBL, the involvement in Al Qaeda of the courier.

The death of Osama Bin Laden is due to the counterterrorism policy that President Obama and his national security team put in place. It is not due to the President personally, or even his team as a whole. The killing of OBL is a vindication of every national security thinker, intelligence operative, and military leader who supported a traditional intelligence/law enforcement/targeted strategy of focusing on Al Qaeda.

President Bush and his team failed to do that, choosing unnecessary wars and torture over the tactics that brought us the death of America's most influential enemy.

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