Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama's bin Laden Strategy

According to several new reports Obama plans to "renew" the hunt for bin Laden. Here's CNN:
The Obama team believes the Bush administration has downplayed the importance of catching the FBI's most-wanted terrorist because it has not been able to find him.

"We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority," Obama said during the presidential debate on October 7.
Biden went further, saying Obama would not only find him but would "send him to hell" (conspiractists insert your anti-Christ references here).

Indeed, Obama has promised that if he receives intelligence on the whereabouts of UBL or other HVTs in Pakistan, and they won't cooperate, he'll plow ahead anyway. In other words, "with us or with the terrorists"! Funny how those words were condemned as evil and ignorant coming from one president's mouth and not the other's. Just words? Perhaps. After all, McCain said he'd follow bin Laden to the gates of hell then later said he knew where Osama was hiding. Was he calling Pakistan hell or some other country? And if he knows where UBL is why hasn't he told anyone? So they all tend to overdose on the promises.

Irrelevant now, though. Obama has the football and the public expects him to move the ball. Since first downs and touchdowns don't happen by standing behind center and barking out dummy signals he's gotta call a play. The CNN article quotes Dalton Fury, US commander at Tora Bora, on one possible play:
Fury says the best route for the president-elect to take would be to change the dialogue about bin Laden. Intelligence officials do not believe he is playing an operational role and so has no reason to move around or communicate.

"I think it's important to understand that bin Laden had his chance at martyrdom. He was in the mountains of Tora Bora, he ran away. In my opinion, I think we ought to promote this," Fury said.
Could work, but also fraught with some peril. First of all, would bin Laden fall for it? He's been under cover for awhile now with zero credible video appearances of late. Calling him a chicken in an effort to taunt him to the surface might seriously blowback in our faces if he pulls off a worse-than-9/11 attack then later comes out to gloat on his own. Obama would likely get blamed.

Questioning his manhood might also increase chances of martyrdom. Hassan Turabi, former leader of Sudan and would-be uniter of the Arab/Muslim world to fight the west, once said killing UBL would create a "thousand more". Every one of them would be dumped in Obama's lap. Yet as Fury notes the American public will never be satisfied until he's brought to justice or confirmed dead.

Talk is already spreading about the Taliban's desire to make a deal to "finish" the war. Obama would be crazy to ever sign the line without having AQ numbers one and two in GTMO Leavenworth or confirmed dead.

But if bin Laden is actually long dead could it be admitted in talks? Such news might indict the Bush administration for covering it up but it would also indict the Taliban and AQ for doing likewise. No martyrdom or a thousand bin Ladens there.

Adding more troops won't help us find bin Laden or Zawahiri--in another country. And although regional peace talks might sound promising (with Iran included) they would never work unless all parties agreed to marginalize and condemn al Qaeda, something that might upset the locals. It's quite a fix.

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