If parties outside the Republican/Democrat lock on the political process ever had a cycle tailor-made for them, 2016 would be it. With most Americans unhappy with the nominees produced by the two-party process, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have an opportunity to prove that “outside” doesn’t mean “fringe.” Unfortunately, even with those openings, both candidates seem intent on demonstrating fecklessness on foreign policy especially. The Green Party nominee picked the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 to insist that “assassinating” Osama bin Laden was the wrong call.
This will really eat into her 2% in the polls:
Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s candidate for president, said Sunday in Iowa that she would not have assassinated Osama bin Laden but would have brought him to justice for his role in the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I think assassinations … they’re against international law to start with and to that effect, I think I would not have assassinated Osama bin Laden but would have captured him and brought him to trial,” Stein said.
Ahem. First of all, killing a combatant enemy in an operation of war is not an “assassination.” Osama bin Laden declared war on us, not the other way around, and had conducted successful terrorist operations against civilian targets, as well as some against US military targets. That made him a legitimate target for military operations. Navy SEALs are not assassins; they conduct military operations, often covert, under the military chain of command.
Second, the mission did allow for bin Laden’s capture. Had he not resisted, then Stein would have gotten her wish — except for the trial part. It’s worth noting that the 9/11 conspirators still have not been tried for 3,000 murders despite having been captured within months of the attacks. Even so, bin Laden chose to fight when the SEALs dropped into Abbottabad. What would have Stein ordered US forces to do at that point — withdraw? Get shot and die so that bin Laden could later turn himself into the authorities? Does Stein envision a scenario where SEALs knock on the door and present an arrest warrant? It’s an utterly inane, trite, and ludicrous statement.
But Stein wasn’t finished:
“I think all evidence certainly points to bin Laden, but the 9/11 attackers had assistance and funding and bin Laden had assistance and funding,” she said. Stein cited a recent article by former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida in the New York Times that noted the still-murky role of Saudi Arabia in assisting terrorists.
“What we should have done is declare this a crime against humanity and pursued it, pursued the attackers and gotten the intelligence about who was behind this,” she said.
She said the United States and Saudi Arabia armed and trained warlords and other rebels as a way to combat the Soviet Union and that led to the creation of today’s jihadist movement. “And boy, did it backfire; I mean, in a horrific and tragic way,” she said.
Lots of people declared the 9/11 attacks a “crime against humanity,” along with a number of other terrorist attacks — Khobar Towers, the 1993 World Trade Center attack, the attacks on two US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, and the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. That and $5 will get you a café latté at Starbucks. It’s a meaningless phrase in a legal sense or a military sense. The US did pursue the attackers, and got lots of intelligence about them and their plans, at least until progressives got queasy about Gitmo and incentivized the military and intelligence services to simply kill terrorists instead of capturing them.
Stein’s layout of history is similarly ignorant. Yes, the US supplied arms to Afghan warlords, but our focus was primarily on those that formed the Northern Alliance — Tajiks and other minority tribes. Pashtuns in the south formed the Taliban and allied with bin Laden, sponsored and supported primarily by Pakistan, especially its intelligence services. Furthermore, while bin Laden had some Saudi support, he vehemently opposed the Saudi monarchy and had its destruction as one of his ultimate goals. The jihadist movement didn’t start in Afghanistan but decades earlier after the defeat and collapse of the Ottoman empire, and was given a huge boost by Iran’s radical mullahcracy more than Afghanistan’s defeat of the Soviets. None of this, by the way, has much to do with the need to pursue terrorists and stop them from launching attacks now.
This cycle has proven that the two-party system has serious issues, but it’s also reminding us that there still aren’t any serious alternatives.