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

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Bush’s former CIA director, George Tenet, in his book released in April 2007, questioned the surge: “Sectarian violence in Iraq has taken on a life of its own and … U.S. forces are becoming more and more irrelevant to the management of that violence.” NBC’s Tom Brokaw said the decision to surge would “seem to most people … like a folly.”

Obama, on the other hand, said the Abbottabad intel on bin Laden gave the U.S. the “the best chance” to get him “since Tora Bora.” Obama faced greater criticism had he refused to act.

Yes, civilians could have been killed, along with the SEALs. If so, what would have been the political and national security downside? That Obama erred by taking advantage of a secret deal to enter Pakistan? That Obama erred by using actionable intel to get the world’s most wanted man, the spiritual leader of a global Islamofascist movement, a jihadi-terrorist who declared war on America, a mass murderer responsible for the slaughter of 3,000 Americans on American soil, a man whom 86 percent of Americans wanted captured or killed?

Would most Republicans have attacked Obama for an unsuccessful mission to kill bin Laden — especially given the Tora Bora failure under Bush? Republicans applaud Obama’s decision to send in more troops in Afghanistan, and approve the stepped-up drone attacks in Pakistan. Republicans support Obama’s continuation of Bush-era policies including rendition, Guantanamo Bay, the Patriot Act, the state secrets doctrine, military tribunals and the terror surveillance program.

What about Obama’s failed missions? Drone attacks have killed Pakistani civilians, for which the Obama administration has had to apologize. In an attempt to learn the location of bin Laden’s second in command, seven CIA agents were killed on a CIA base in Afghanistan by a homicide bomber whom they mistakenly trusted. Bad stuff happens in war. Ask G.W. Bush.

The consequences, however, of an unsuccessful surge were catastrophic. The Iraq War would have been lost and abandoned. Terrorists would have been emboldened. The vacuum of a failed Iraq would have likely been filled by Iran, more confident than ever that a humiliated America planned to sit it out as Iran pursued a nuclear bomb. The perception of an America that loses wars then cuts and runs would have undermined the war in Afghanistan. The GOP would have been crippled for years under the avalanche of I-told-you-so’s. Bush’s political obituary would have been cast.

But Bush stood fast.

Obama certainly deserves credit and praise for greenlighting the successful strike against bin Laden. But Bush’s decision to surge was a truly gutsy call — and it deserves acknowledgment as such.

 

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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.