Monday, January 16, 2012
"..Osama bin Laden will never again walk the face of this Earth. That’s what change is."
So said President Obama at a recent fundraiser, the same one where he also claimed that Republicans threaten the "very core of what this country stands for."
Let's ignore his attacking the GOP's patriotism and focus on that first statement, because President Obama keeps coming back to it as a great foreign policy achievement of his. Was it?
Osama bin Laden certainly deserved death if any one did. But foreign policy is based on strategic goals, not on simply meting out justice to those who've murdered Americans. If President Obama's chief concern was punishing people who've murdered Americans, we wouldn't be aiding the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or the Hezbollah-controlled government of Lebanon and Iran would be a smoking crater right now, with the mullahs, President Ahmadinejad and a lot of other members of that government turned into halal crisps.
Since President Obama is touting this as a great foreign policy accomplishment of his and is using it to raise money, let's simply take a cold hard look at it in the light of what it actually accomplished from that perspective.
At the time he was assassinated, Osama bin Laden was essentially living quietly as a guest of the Pakistani government in Abbottobad. His health was not the best, so a great deal of the actual operational command was in the hands of his subordinate, Egyptian-born former Muslim Brotherhood leader Ayman Zawahiri.
As President Obama has pointed out, al-Qaeda has been weakened severely and marginalized, thanks to bin Laden's miscalculation in making Iraq a central front of jihad and suffering massive losses of men and material. That happened, ironically, because of military strategies like the surge Senator Obama did his very best to criticize and sabotage before he entered the White House.
At the time of bin Laden's death, Al-Qaeda had become more of a brand name, a proselytizing force over the internet and an inspiration to young jihadis rather than an actual source of many attacks.
We used a painstakingly created network of Pakistani informers and intel sources to nail down bin-Laden's whereabouts and plan the operation that assassinated him. We then sent the valiant men of Navy Seal Team Six into Pakistan via helicopter, broke into bin-Laden's compound, shot him down, removed his body, gave him a proper Islamic funeral ( which involves cursing Christians and Jews, if the usual text was used) and threw his body into the sea.
So we accomplished an act of retribution. Let's examine the results and see if they were worth it.
The Pakistanis were predictably livid at being exposed, again, as a major aider and abetter of Islamic fascism and terrorism. Their honor/shame mentality kicked in and rather than express regret that they had been caught sheltering a mass murderer, they went into hysterics about the violation of their sovereignty. They arrested every member of the Pakistani network they could get their hands on that helped the US find and assassinate bin-Laden and charged them with treason, which will likely end in a number of executions. Aside from our network in Pakistan being burnt, this assured that we're going to have great difficulty with intel from that country in the future.
The Pakistanis also closed the land route they control into Afghanistan through the Torkum Pass for several days. This route transports 75% of the supplies going into Afghanistan for our troops, who now simply had to make do without needed supplies for a few days. Also, because the stopped supply trucks were sitting ducks, the Taliban manged to destroy several of them.
Even more costly, we lost one of our helicopters in the bin-Laden operation, a Blackhawk. Now, these normally cost about $20 million or so, but this one cost a great deal more, because it had been highly modified with top secret stealth technology that brought its cost up to more like $60 million. Even worse, the SEAL's were unable to completely destroy it, and the angry Pakistanis gleefully gave it to the Chinese to examine at their leisure. The potential loss of technology is in the millions, not to mention our relationship with Pakistan, which has worsened considerably and is unlikely to recover for some time if at all.
But the worse is yet to come.
When we take a look at exactly why Osama bin-Laden was ratted out after all this time, some interesting intel surfaces. As I've mentioned on these pages before, we know that there was a substantial disagreement between Osama and his chief lieutenant Ayman Zawahiri, prior to Osama's death. Bin laden was relatively comfortable in Abbotobad and wanted to keep al-Qaeda anchored in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Zawahiri, looking at developments in his native Egypt and elsewhere like the 'Arab Spring' , the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Obama's already announced retreat from the region was pushing to relocate al-Qaeda back to the Middle East and the roiling Arab world.
So now that Osama's dead (and according to my sources, there are pretty solid indications he was deliberately fingered) Zawahiri, a former Muslim Brotherhood member has taken over and we see increased al-Qaeda presence in both the Egyptian Sinai and Libya, as well as in Iraq where the Maliki government's marginalization of the Sunnis has given al-Qaeda new life.
Moreover, should Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist governments take over in Egypt and Libya as seems likely, Ayman Zawahiri, al-Qaeda and its affiliates like Takfir-wal Higra can count on a haven to train and recruit, with Libya's oil wealth and Egypt's population and rabid Islamism to draw on.
So let's reiterate, shall we? The chief foreign policy triumph President Obama continually boasts about consists of taking out a largely defanged terrorist. It cost us millions of dollars, inflamed an already unfriendly but unfortunately necessary relationship between the US and Pakistan, burnt our intel network in that country, gave the Chinese and probably the Russians and Iranians a good look at American state of the art stealth technology that cost additional millions to develop, and helped relocate al-Qaeda to the heart of the Middle East after we had largely driven them out.
'Foreign policy achievement' or a fiasco being used for political effect? You be the judge.