Obama deserves credit for making the right call, but let’s be honest: It was not a uniquely tough call to make. As “Black Hawk Down” author Mark Bowden wrote in Foreign Policy magazine: “[N]early all the [administration] principals favored sending in the SEALs at their final meeting on the topic, three days before the raid. The biggest exception was Vice President Biden, who was the only one who urged the president not to attack the Abbottabad compound … yet.” It can’t be that hard to choose when a room full of experts says “Yes!” and Biden says “No!”
Even the hypothetical political consequences of failure are probably overestimated — many Americans would have understood, had bin Laden been absent, or had the raid been repelled.
And frankly, getting bin Laden shouldn’t have been the focus of America’s anti-terror policy anyway. America’s eye has been off the ball while far more important events transpired in the Arab world. The Arab Spring is being hijacked by increasingly radical and anti-American actors. The Arab world continues to hate America as much as it ever did, despite Obama’s outreach efforts, which have at times approached the level of groveling. Unlike bin Laden, al Qaeda is very much still alive.