by guest columnist, Robert Anderson, Seattle
We stayed up late last night for the blockbuster news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Some aspects and facts from this almost 10 year manhunt deserve reflection.
After the attacks of 9/11 George Bush vowed to get him “dead or alive”. Six months later he downplayed the centrality of bin Laden saying he had no place to train terrorists, was marginalized, outside the “command structure” and “he didn’t think that much about him.” History now shows as well that at Tora Bora we had him surrounded but the trail went cold when Bush diverted attention and troops to Iraq in a totally illegal and misinformed foray into a country which had NO connection to 9/11. Let us also never forget that our country armed and trained and protected the Taliban and Osama under 2 Republican presidents.
Now Bush’s casual dismissal could have been taken to be a necessary “smoke screen” to deflect attention from an even more intense ramping up of the manhunt. Sadly this was not the case. Bush closed the CIA unit hunting for him in 2005. Evidence today reveals, that was THE SAME YEAR bin Ladin built a million dollar secure compound (the biggest house in town) in a wealthy suburb of Islamabad, within a stone’s throw of the “West Point” of Pakistan, whose head runs Pakistani military. The city of Abbottabad is a city with huge military presence. To remotely entertain the idea that Pakistani officials did not know what was going on there is ludicrous. Today, after years of minimal help finding bin Ladin, they want to claim credit for a “joint operation”! (What’s the Pakistini word for “cajones”?)
In the 2008 campaign. one candidate, Obama, made the hunt for Osama again central to his candidacy. In words last night Obama made it clear that Osama and terrorism was a clear focus for months, with wide Congressional support. He kept his promise, as he has done on many more fronts than even some of his supporters will admit. And when the information and conditions were right, he bravely made the call that could have ended his career if it had failed. (Think Jimmy Carter and the Iran hostages.) And months of careful investigation, planning, wide consultation and rational reflection paid off. An era ended yesterday, both symbolically and realistically. (Though bases, airports and embassies will be on high alert for some time.) The chief terrorist of that homeland attack was dead, captured by well-trained “special ops” whom Obama clearly supported for this dangerous task, his body treated respectfully according to Islamic practice, and his identity documented beyond a shadow of doubt.
The tea-bag fringe has been noticeably silent for 24 hours now. I think we can guess why. It’s going to be a very, very hard event to spin to suit their anti-Obama agenda. But they will probably try. Realism, facts, or humility are not high on their agendas.
The day after Obama gave the final go-ahead, he also visited the tornado victims in the South, and dropped byCape Canaveral - recall his support in January for “Gabby” Giffords and her astronaut husband. With all that on his plate, he took time to show compassion for others. He CAN do more than one thing at a time!
One phrase kept rolling off the lips of a commentator last night: “Clarity and competence”. Could it be, I now ask my far right friends, that the difference in capturing bin Laden is now revealed? Clarity! Competence! Maybe, just maybe cool and civil rebuilding of alliances with foreign countries, a clear military policy and program, rational cooperative thinking, and good bi-partisan consultation, are better at fighting terrorism than western cowboy theatrics, and get better results? And maybe (but don’t count on it) Rudy Giuliani would be humble enough to say the opposite of what he said in 2004 (when reflecting on 9/11), “Thank God Obama is president”. Don’t count on that either. And hoping beyond hope, the far right will stop its lying mantra that the Democrats are soft on terrorism and national defense. That dog won’t hunt anymore, if it ever did.
Bob Anderson (Material is freed for copying, sending and posting.) 5/2/11