Just imagine how much unexpected fun it must be to cover Vice President Joe Biden. Normally, reporters who get stuck with the Veep end up enduring dry, meaningless speeches and endless funerals. With Sheriff Joe, though, reporters assigned to the beat get to break stories like this:
Vice President Joseph Biden on Monday night upped the ante around the already quite-dramatic assassination of Osama bin Laden.
From the pool report of Biden’s comments during a fundraising event in New Jersey come these quotes.
“You can go back 500 years. You cannot find a more audacious plan. Never knowing for certain. We never had more than a 48 percent probability that he was there.”
Er … what? I won’t take anything away from the call to hit the Abbottabad compound; there were genuine political risks in play for President Obama, and no guarantee of success. However, only someone with complete ignorance of military history could call a green light on a mission with a 48% chance of success the most audacious plan in the last 500 years. Here are a few from just off the top of my head:
- Raid on Tokyo
- Battle of Cowpens
- Bunker Hill
- Agincourt, if one is willing to go back 600 years or so
The true award winner in this category is the D-Day invasion of June 1944 of Fortress Europe by Dwight Eisenhower. It took months to lay a trap of misdirection for the Nazis, a trap that Eisenhower couldn’t have known for certain had sprung until his troops hit the beaches. It took a massive effort to build and train his armies not just for the landings, but also to get materiel on shore and push off the beachheads into the hedgerows, and this against the mightiest military force on the continent. Few know the context of the D-Day decision and its precursor in the embarrassing failure at Dieppe in 1942, and the real risks of failure — certainly higher than 52%.
Not even the Huffington Post could give Biden a pass on this wildly irresponsible claim:
Without taking anything away from the quite dangerous raid to get bin Laden, there are other commander-in-chief calls that could compete for historical audaciousness.
Ronald Reagan’s raid on Grenada might even best Abbottabad, given the circumstances of protecting American citizens from hostile Cuban forces on the island, and was just as politically fraught, although not as meaningful in the annals of the Cold War as getting OBL was in the War on Terror. Obama made a good call in tough circumstances on the bin Laden raid, but that hardly makes him the greatest military genius since Admiral Nelson. This administration needs to get a grip.