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    Monday, May 02, 2011

    Osama Bin Laden Dead!

    The death of Osama Bin Laden was announced hours ago by President Obama, and of course Americans have been rejoicing since.

    The story developing about a small assault team of Navy SEALs storming a mansion in the suburbs of Islamabad, Pakistan would make a great Hollywood movie. And the remembering of 9/11 and its victims is well deserved.

    However, the president said some truly amazing things in his short speech tonight. First, this tip came to his desk in August 2010 - 9 months ago. Over the last year (basically) that intelligence has been checked, rechecked, and corroborated. Plans have been developed, scrapped, redrawn and practiced repeatedly. Most importantly, people didn't know about it. In a city notorious for leaks, this information didn't.

    In the day of 24hr news, Twitter, and Facebook, we want real-time status updates from all our politicians, including our president, about the fate and direction of our country. When things don't happen perfectly, or we take small set backs on the road to large gains, the people (incited by CNN or not) rise up inflamed. This is what happened in the Vietnam war, before the modern US political machine had a decent idea how to deal with 24hr news. President Nixon swore we were winning the war. The North Vietnamese launch the Tet Offensive and lose almost 80% of their effective army. Our military victory is a huge political loss because all people see is massive fighting and casualties in a country halfway around the world that their president just told them was won and on the road to resolution.

    This reality cost Nixon the white house, plagued President Bush during his terms in office, and forces our leaders to always caution every success story with words like "it's gonna be a long fight" or "this is one small step in a larger effort." As the election cycle heats up, and people start asking "what have you done for me lately?" we need to remember this - that sometimes (maybe most times) the president has done a lot for us lately. We just aren't allowed to know it.

    Secondly, President Obama mentioned he called the president of Pakistan and apprised him of the situation. This means Pakistan had no knowledge of the assault beforehand. Reports of Pakistani presence during the assault are currently elaborated as one intelligence official. This very easily is a euphemism for "CIA contact who is Pakistani."

    This confirms how inept the Pakistani government is at investigating, and how strained our relationship is with the lynch pin of South Asia. We need a Pakistan that effectively helps us find and kill terrorists, and puts pressure on China. Without that, United States presence is woefully weak in the Middle East.

    The rub going forward will be to see how President Obama works and strengthens the US relationship with Pakistan, and how much leeway voters give him for military and security issues he cannot discuss.

    Now, let me join in with all the cheering and revelry:

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    I agree with your analysis of who "won" the Tet Offensive. Though I'm no fan of Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson was President at that time. If anything, Nixon benefited from the perceived loss, pushing his "secret plan to end the war." That plan turned out to be a phony. Vietnamization really was a abandonment of our allies when the going got tough. But by that point Nixon had succumbed to Watergate.