President Obama made the correct decision in sending Navy SEALs into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. But was it the “gutsy call” the media, and the administration itself, has led us to believe? Logically and politically the President had no alternative. 

Little courage is required to condemn a man directly responsible for the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. No man in recent history has deserved U.S. retribution more than Osama bin Laden. Once the al-Qaeda leader’s whereabouts were confirmed there was no decision to make. Any post-9/11 President who held bin Laden in his crosshairs and failed to fire would instantly become the greatest failure in presidential history. Obama received an approval ratings bounce, as would be expected. But the decision that precipitated that bounce was a no-brainer. As more Americans examine the situation, especially in light of the conflicting accounts emanating from the White House, they will realize that Obama had no option aside from the course he chose. 

Imagine the political fallout had Obama forsaken the opportunity to take bin Laden. News of such magnitude wouldn’t have remained a secret, not even with a compliant media. Had Obama wavered on taking bin Laden his 2012 goose would’ve been cooked. His indecisiveness and tepidness would be confirmed. Furthermore, inaction would’ve fueled the Obama-is-a-Muslim theories. Had Obama knowingly allowed Osama bin Laden to escape he would’ve been lucky to carry the Haight-Ashbury and Greenwich Village precincts in his reelection bid. 

Capturing bin Laden wasn’t an option either. Obama couldn’t send the al-Qaeda captain to Guantanamo, a black ops interrogation center, or subject him to anything other than normal criminal proceedings without expressing profound hypocrisy. Imagine Osama bin Laden on trial near Ground Zero, before a jury of Council on American-Islamic Relations peers, with an ACLU lawyer at his side. No, capture (though preferable in terms of intelligence) wasn’t a political option. Osama had to die. 

Make no mistake; President Obama issued the appropriate order. His decision to attack bin Laden directly, rather than with missiles or air strikes, would’ve been correct even if the mission had proved unsuccessful. But in reality, his order to kill Osama bin Laden was an easy call. Who among us wouldn’t love to have issued the “Go!” command to SEAL Team Six? 

A “gutsy” call? Only if you believe shooting down Admiral Yamamoto’s plane during World War II was a difficult choice. “Gutsy” is the media’s latest catchphrase, strategically repeated to promote an Obama foreign policy achievement. Frankly, his decision was one every American should expect from any President, regardless their party or ideology. 

Recognize Obama for acting presidential. But “gutsy” describes Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan. “Gutsy” describes the Navy SEALs and pilots who entered Pakistan and made this mission work. They are the heroes worthy of high praise. Gutsiness comes easier when safe at the White House surrounded by the Secret Service. 

Thanks to Political Derby editor Jason Wright for inspiring this column.

Comments

  • Brian H

    A most glorious post, comrade Hager.

    “Gutsy” is a joke. Any one of us who blog in PD regularly would have issued the same order under the same circumstances, no doubt.

    Your example of Truman was dead on. But, I bet even Truman would not have characterized it himself as being “gutsy”, but, necessary.

    This is the medias attempt to project “gravitas” where none existed.