The mission that killed Osama bin Laden didn’t end the war on terror, but it certainly was a big step along the way. That step came as part of a series of efforts and strategic decisions, as Bill Whittle points out in his latest Firewall. Bill deconstructs the media memes that have emerged — or in some cases, re-emerged — in the ten days since we took out the al-Qaeda chief. It’s a lengthy video, but like all of Bill’s work, well worth the time invested:
I’d like to add a couple of points. First, I think that Bush would have been delighted to get bin Laden before, during, or immediately after invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein. Whittle is spot-on with both his North Africa and Yamamoto references (I’ve argued the former and especially like the latter), but we got OBL when we found him. I don’t think Bush would have put off an opportunity like this regardless of the status of his global strategy.
Second, while I think Bill is right about Bush’s gutsy calls, I still think Obama’s was gutsy as well. The evidence supporting bin Laden’s presence in the Abbottabad compound was not cut and dried, as former Bush-era CIA Director Michael Hayden explained a few days ago; instead, it was entirely circumstantial. The reaction to the Desert One failure in 1980 demonstrated just how badly it would go for a President who ordered a failed military incursion, and there was no guarantee that the mission wouldn’t start a shooting war between Pakistan and the US, however briefly. The right call can still be a gutsy call, and I think that was the case here.