Obama’s Bin Laden Mission ‘Gutsy’ — What About Bush’s ‘Surge’?

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“When President Obama was faced with the opportunity to act upon this,” said Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan, “the President had to evaluate the strength of that information and then made what I believe was one of the most gutsiest (sic) calls of any president in recent memory.”

One of the gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory? On what basis, and by what measure?

Americans wanted Osama bin Laden — dead or alive, preferably dead. “How important,” asked a 2006 Gallup poll, “do you think it is to the U.S. that Osama bin Laden be captured or killed?” The percentage of Americans who considered the apprehension or killing of bin Laden “somewhat important” to “extremely important” totaled an overwhelming 86 percent. Obama acted in accordance with popular opinion.

Worst-case scenario, the mission failed and bin Laden’s guards massacred the SEALs. Obama, we are told, would have suffered the same political setback as did President Jimmy Carter following an unsuccessful military mission. Bad analogy. Carter was already broadly unpopular, fighting off a vigorous intra-party challenge to his renomination from Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. Seventy to 80 percent of Americans actually supported Carter’s rescue attempt, and Carter received a brief bump in the polls.

The Gutsy Obama argument also claims Obama “boldly” risked angering Pakistan. But according to the U.K. “Guardian,” President Bush and Pakistan’s then-leader Pervez Musharraf had secretly agreed — 10 years ago — to allow an American military effort on Pakistan soil to capture or kill bin Laden. And, in 2008, when Pakistani elected a civilian government, Bush renewed the arrangement.

Now examine the political and national security risks undertaken by Bush with his 2007 decision to “surge” in Iraq by sending in 21,500 additional troops to reverse the deteriorating situation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called Bush a “loser.” Critics wrote the war off as a “blunder,” “unwinnable,” a “civil war.” Seventy percent of Americans opposed the surge, according to an AP-Ipsos poll, “and a like number don’t think such an increase would help stabilize the situation there.”

Then-Sen. Obama opposed the surge and promised to try to stop it. He predicted that it would make things worse: “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse….So I am going to actively oppose the president’s proposal.”

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  • Bob

    I agree completely with Mr. Elder's analysis. In addition, one must consider what would have happened if the same opportunity to get bin Laden had occurred in George W. Bush's time in office. Assuming he made the same decision and got the same results (bin Laden dead), he would have faced intense criticism from the mainstream media and most Democrats who would have said that bin Laden should have been captured alive and that killing him was a violation of international law. Obama could make the decision he did (which I support) because he knew that the mainstream media would largely applaud him and that Democrats would either applaud him or remain silent. The reaction to George W. Bush taking such an action would have been much different.

    • Jim_C

      You think it would have been different? I think it would have been EXACTLY the same, with all decent and sane people grateful bin Ladin was dead, the SAME people arguing about it's "illegality," and a fringe of ideological opponents trying to minimize the president's credit, just as this site has been doing all week.

  • Wesley69

    Bush never had the media on his side and as the war dragged on the Democrats became more vocal in their opposition, saying the war was lost and tried to cut off funding on many occasions. Bush made the surge decision when both Houses can under the control of the Democrats. He stuck with it despite the hell the media and the Democrats put him through. The result was a stabliization in the situation in Iraq.

    Obama made a decision to go into Pakistan and kill Bin Laden. No one can minimize it. But it is just one victory in those war on terrorism. Most of the security apparatus was put into place under Bush and it has kept us safe for 7 years under Bush and 2 1/2 years under Obama. Buysh toppled the Taliban govenment, then had to deal with Pakistan where terrorists had fled.

    In comparision of these two men, while we should respect Obama for the decision he made, Bush had a greater understanding of the terrorist threat and Americans should honor him for how he handled it.

    • Jim_C

      "Bush never had the media on his side"??

      Post 9/11, President Bush could do no wrong. We ALL supported him. He used this good faith to manipulate us, with the mainstream media's total complicity in making his weak case to invade, occupy, and rebuild Iraq as some sort of ersatz response to 9/11. Had the media NOT carried Bush's water, and actually done it's job, we'd likely have been spared one of our biggest foreign policy blunders in history.

      Despite this opinion of mine, I do believe Bush should get credit for several things he did do right, chief among them: recognizing terrorism as a foreign policy problem, not just a "law enforcement" issue. Mr. Bush had admirable resolve, which I am thankful for, and despite granting too much credence to the abysmal Cheney/Rumsfeld camp during his first term, I believe all his actions came from a sincere desire to protect this country.

  • carlosincal

    Brennan seems to be comparing his boss's roll to that of Eliott Ness taking out Capone.

  • BLJ

    President Bush was criticized for his "Dead or Alive" comments on Bin Laden by the same MSM and Democrat tools who are making Obama the second coming of John Wayne. They (along with Big Ears) was dead set against the surge in Iraq.

    I hold this group in total contempt and consider them enemies of this nation.

  • Flowerknife_us

    Gutsy? It is highly unlikely the raid would have taken place unless they knew in advance it would be a slam dunk.

    Has there been some reporting about our forces being shot at that we missed?

  • Disagree

    The difference is that Bush presented Iraq as a part of the war on terror, which it was not. W's job was to avenge 9/11 and he didn't keep his eye on the ball. Instead he turned to Iraq to finish the job his dad failed to finish. There was no need for it: Iraq was being controlled from the air.
    Making a connection between "Reports" (i.e. rumors) of long convoys leaving Iraq for Syria and concluding WMDs existed are fabrications. If there was any, however small, evidence of WMD Cheney would have boasted about it on Fox. The eurpeans have relations with the Middle East, and they knew there were no WMDs. Bush himself called it a "intelligence failure". Saddam had followed the UN resolution. Get back to the real world: there were no WMD.