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MAY 7, 2012 12:05PM

Why It Really Was A Serious Call to Kill Bin Laden:Pakistan

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It's unfortunate that it's a Presidential election year, and so policy tends to get overwhelmed by politics, on the theory that since it's a zero sum game as to who wins office, and so therefore the other side will maximize its chances to win office, you have to do so too.

Thought and reason tend to go out the window, which is unfortunate, especially because there really was a serious call to make in the case of killing Bin Laden, for starters in terms of Pakistan.

It will probably never be known in public what Pakistan did or did not know about Bin Laden, which in itself might well be a tale of the form, "You don't really want to know that story, given the consequences if that was generally understood."

But at a minimum, making a decision to openly kill Bin Laden on Pakistani territory was a serious decision to make, since there were other alternatives.

Among the alternatives were to either do nothing, and just watch from a safe distance, to go to Pakistan and inform them of the intelligenceon on his location and see what happened next, or, to do a drone or airstrike on the location, or, to do exactly same raid and plant him with the fishes, but say exactly nothing: what raid?

Or of course, one could have done the raid, but tried rather harder to capture him alive.

Thus, call it gutsy or not by President Obama, that the call was made was rather serious in character because there were many options available, especially when one considers where all that left Pakistan.

In fact, Pakistani internal and external politics haven't been the same since then, and maybe that's a good thing as to leaving Afghanistan in reasonable order, but it was definitely a decision of high level consequences.

That doesn't mean that the raid was a great thing, or what no one will have the courage to even advance, a mistake (just chop his head off and put it in a box to show the "need to know people, like other real secrets we keep),  just that any time a State decides to use force, it is a very serious thing, with consequences often far larger than it would appear at first glance.

Such a lesson often gets lost in a presidential election year, as no one really wants to put forward an argument that had been made before, namely: What next?




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I admire Obama for making this decision. Yes, a gutsy call. Pakistan is a questionable ally and has been for a long time--way before this incursion. I wish they had captured him though, instead of killing him, and that he spend the rest of his life in prison.
It was a real call, call it gutsy if you will, as there were options, like trying him, or deep sixing him and saying nothing.
It's a rough world out there as to Pakistan, there's Iran, China, and of course Russia not really too far out of the real world picture, and someone to the South, so, they like to play certain kind of games, and, maybe some day, it will all blow up, and, there will be dead people all over the place too.
It was a brilliant call because Bin Laden was the putative rationale for TWO wars and tens of thousands dead.

In retrospect, he didn't seem to be doing much, per the recently released documents.

Nevertheless, we needed to put the punctuation on the end of 911, and this was the real 'Mission Accomplished' moment.

It also displayed just how corrupt the entire enterprise had become -- Pakistan could have ended things years earlier. We could have just left. The moral basis of any action had been missing for years, if it ever existed. &c.

Everyone is tired of this. Time to go home and wait for something worth killing for.
But the disorder in Afghanistan is the fundamental reason we went there, beyond the consideration of the passage of armies through there that have large implications as to the balance of power.
A Russia that controls Afghanistan was always seen as having become almost a sea power. A China that controls Afghanistan could pass to the Middle East, bypassing our stranglehold on their sea lines of communication with the Middle East which if tried would generate a lot more killing.