Barack Obama and his campaign have accused Mitt Romney of lacking the fortitude to take out Osama bin Laden in the kind of raid Obama ordered a year ago. Thanks to a new agreement Obama signed with Hamid Karzai, the Daily Caller reports, Romney wouldn’t even get the chance. The new agreement signed on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s demise would forbid exactly the kind of raid that Obama ordered, one originating from Afghanistan into Pakistan:
President Barack Obama has promised not to attack Pakistan-based al-Qaida leaders or fighters from bases inside Afghanistan.
The surprising commitment effectively bars Obama and his successors from launching another nighttime helicopter raid like the one that that killed Osama bin Laden. That raid has proven to be Obama’s primary foreign-policy success because it killed bin Laden, scooped up much intelligence data and shocked Pakistan.
That’s not the only option Obama has taken off the table in the new agreement, either:
Obama’s commitment will also end the use of secretive drone-attacks from Afghanistan. Those attacks have killed hundreds of al-Qaida leaders since the mid-2000s. They’ve also been very popular with U.S voters, and usually have had tacit Pakistan approval.
The unadvertised provision is buried in the deal that Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Obama signed with much campaign-style fanfare May 1 in Kabul. It could provide a legal shield for Pakistani-based al-Qaida’s leaders, front-line fighters, terrorism-planners, allied terror-leaders, funders, terror bases and terror training-grounds.
“The United States further pledges not to use Afghan territory or facilities as a launching point for attacks against other countries,” says the provision, found in paragraph 6b of the eight-page deal.
Some of those drone attacks have taken place from inside Pakistan, so the clause doesn’t completely end the effective drone missions that have destroyed al-Qaeda’s command structure and capabilities. However, that kind of cooperation on drone attacks is extremely fragile, as the collateral damage creates an enormous amount of political pressure on Pakistan’s government. Islamabad is already growing more hostile with the US over our refusal to formally apologize for the deaths of two dozen Pakistani soldiers in an errant attack a few months ago, and they have repeatedly told the Obama administration that they want the CIA and the drones out of Pakistan, although they seem to be allowing the attacks to continue, for now anyway.
Still, how cynical can one be to accuse a political opponent of lacking the testicular fortitude to launch the kind of mission Obama green-lighted a year ago while negotiating a pact that forbids them in the future anyway? The only answer to this is that an American President might not feel bound to honor that part of the agreement, but that’s a poor answer. That would call our commitment to the entire pact into question, as well as our credibility on other treaties and pacts around the world. Besides, it doesn’t answer the question. Obama accused Romney of not having the guts to make the call, while agreeing with Karzai to never make a similar call himself. It’s hypocritical in the extreme, and the inclusion of such an agreement should have us questioning Obama’s intestinal fortitude in fighting terrorists in the region.