Well, I'm back. I have temporarily emerged from my self-imposed blog exile to address a series of actions that are so egregious I could no longer resist. I am referring to a series of actions that threaten America's security and represent the essence of what is tearing this country apart.
Whatever the actual facts, Osama bid Laden is held to be the mastermind behind 9/11 as well as other terrorist actions. Whatever his practical and financial role recently, he is still widely regarded as the symbol of totalitarian Islam and is a hero to radical terrorists throughout the world. Killing someone of his stature is an act of justice and serves as a stark warning to America's enemies.
Whatever actually happened, let's assume that there was a military operation that killed bin Laden. I don't take this assumption lightly as I have not seen any physical evidence that proves this assertion. But for the purpose of this post, it doesn't really matter.
How should this have been handled?
First, to fully take advantage of the intelligence supposedly obtained at the site, you would wait to announce.
Second, you would make one of two choices. You either release photos or you don't. Which you choose doesn't matter, as long as you choose and stick by your decision. For example, say you choose not to release photos, you could make a statement such as this:
"Two weeks ago, American armed forces completed a mission in which Osama bin Laden was killed. In order to protect our personnel and further our interests, details of this mission will remain classified. I have shared the details of this operation with leaders of the appropriate Congressional committees and the identity of the assailants have been established beyond a reasonable doubt. I do not care if anyone believes this. My job is to protect Americans. I am satisfied and the military is satisfied that he is dead, and so if you want to find him, go for it. In the meantime, we will continue to our efforts to crush the opposition, etc."
Or, let's say you wanted to release the photos, you could say:
"...I have decided to release photos in order to remove any doubt about the identity of the assailant as well as to serve notice to all of America's enemies that this is the fate that awaits you if you threaten or kill Americans..."
Note that the decision doesn't really matter. What matters is that a firm decision is made and the appropriate message sent.
So what did Obama actually do?
As soon as the announcement was made, rational skepticism abounded in public. This is not surprising given the president's track record of policies that can only be characterized (conservatively) as anti-American as well as the fact that his own history and evidently, even the location of his birth, is shrouded in mystery. The administration publicly groused about the likely torrent of "conspiracy theories" as leaks surfaced about the internal debate between Pannetta who favored release and Clinton and Gates who opposed it.
And what were the reasons given for these concerns? First, they expressed concern that releasing the photos would incite more terrorism. If this were true, then the local police should keep courts, jails, and the death penalty a secret. After all, if they announced that perpetrators of crimes would be punished, it might incite criminals to perpetrate more crimes, right?! Evidently, when terrorists think we are really nice guys that won't defend ourselves or attack them, they will be way less likely to attack us, right?! This line of thinking is so preposterous, it's hard to believe it warrants any serious consideration.
The second concern seemed to relate to offending Muslim sensibilities, or something like that. Let me submit that if the news of bin Laden's gruesome execution provokes a feeling of anything less than unadulterated joy then not only do you deserve to be offended, you should be investigated by the government and a team of psychiatrists! Anyone that regards bin Laden as someone to be idolized or revered and thus likely to be offended by news of his death, deserves to be offended and a lot more!
There are legitimate military reasons not to release the photos. Fine, see my statement above. But to flounder on the basis of such inane and morally contradictory premises as the above is outrageous, cowardly, and completely antithetical to the goal of defeating the enemy.
There have been other revelations. Apparently, when presented with the intelligence and opportunity to act, Obama decided to "sleep on it" before deciding. Okay, I was not privy to the details, but it strikes me that anyone who took more time than it takes for the brain's electric signal to trigger vocal chords to say "go" should be impeached. Second, while other members of the administration adhered to protocol related to secrecy, his own Vice President outed the Navy seals and named the admiral in charge in a public forum!
Public hand wringing and dissent within the administration, intelligence gaffes, and cowardly appeasement has turned a potentially monumental victory into an ignominious defeat. Rather than appearing confident and in control, the president appeared to be conflicted, presiding over a divided administration with no firm idea of how to proceed. Rather than appearing as the Commander-in-Chief shrewdly leading the greatest military in the world, he appeared like a lottery winner from a trailer park.
So what is the essential flaw animating Obama's approach to the world versus an approach that is coherent, shrewd, and idealistic?
Imagine that the Founding Fathers, faced with overwhelming odds of defeating the mighty British Empire, regarded the British King, not as an evil despot, but as a misguided extremist who had hijacked an otherwise reasonable philosophy, the Divine Right of Kings? Throughout history, how is it that any small group was able to defeat a much larger, more advanced adversary? In ten years since 9/11, and 30 years since the Iranian Revolution, why is it that America has not defeated the Islamic radicals?
The reason is that America's leaders lack the courage that follows from moral certainty. A morally certain individual better offend his enemies! On the other hand, Obama is not so sure. Yeah, he killed bin Laden, but he doesn't believe in "extreme" notions of good and evil. To the philosophical pragmatist, it is more important to exude passivity and openness to compromise, no matter what the situation. To such a mind, the only sin is to project confidence, moral confidence. That is why Obama has failed and why our leaders have been unable to define, much less defeat, our enemy.