US Government Released Documents Showing How Osama bin Laden Was A Spent Force At The Time Of His Killing In May 2011 – Getting Rid Of Him Was Good, But Not Much To Brag About

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By Paolo von Schirach

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May 3, 2012

WASHINGTON – I stated (see link above) that President Obama is trying to get way too much mileage out of the (otherwise totally appropriate) killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan (Operation Neptune Spear) on May 1, 2011. While an important event that allowed some closure with the 9/11 attacks on US soil in 2001, in 2011 the US killed a rather despondent fugitive who had lost followers, clout and relevance. So, important but hardly historic.

Political theatre

I also observed that using the first anniversary of this killing as an excuse to go to Kabul to announce an updated (yet still vague) administration Afghanistan exist strategy was cheap political theatre. While there was an obvious connection between Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and Afghanistan back in 2001, now it is negligible. The Taliban insurgency is certainly not directed by al Qaeda, while today the terror group foot print in the country that once was a willing host is almost non existent.

So, to recap, the killing of Osama bin Laden, while totally appropriate and justified, was not a big deal, because bin Laden at the time of his killing was no longer the towering leader of the Global Jihad that he has been for a few years.

Documents just released portray a weak al Qaeda

It so happens that the Obama administration took actions that reinforce this conclusion, in a sense undermining its own “it really was a big deal” case. The US Government just released a portion of the documents seized in the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was killed last year. And the purpose of this release according to an AP story is “to discredit his [bin Laden’s’] terror organization, portray a network weak, inept and under siege –and its leader seemingly near wit’s end about the passing of his global jihad’s glory days“.

And indeed the various documents now available to the general public show an organization in disarray, with not many plans, internal confusion and dimininshed zeal.

Killing bin Laden a good thing, but no evidence of superior foreign policy skills

So, the US finally caught up with a terror leader –but when he was on his way down. It is a good thing that bin Laden has been eliminated. But it is wrong for President Obama to keep bringing up his killing as proof of how tough he is in foreign policy. To the full credit of the administration, this was a well crafted and well executed intelligence operation brought to a close by first class US special forces.

However, dealing with China, Iran and North Korea, not to mention managing a new international economic order, requires a different set of skills. Giving the order to kill bin Laden is no evidence of Obama’s ability to manage the larger issues of US foreign and security policies.

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