Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Issues: Al Qaeda

So Barak Obama made a comment last year that, to me at least, seemed like a smack in the forehead kind of common sense. The right and thus the press didn't see it that way though. To paraphrase, Sen. Obama said that if we received accurate intelligence to the exact whereabouts of one Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani government was either unable or unwilling to take action then we would, whether Pakistan gave us permission or not. Sen. McCain has railed against this idea (strange though he pushes for a war with Iran, a nation that dwarfs Iraq by a few orders of magnitude) and has called it dangerously naive of Sen. Obama to; a) telegraph our punches, and b) invade an allied nation. It's become a major sticking point for Sen. McCain as he continues to use it to show how supposedly unprepared Sen. Obama is for the responsibilities of the presidency.
Of course, that's horseshit. For many reasons, it's horseshit. And if John McCain can't see it's horseshit then obviously he didn't learn anything during those five years being aggressively interrogated. First off, the entire GWOT (global war on terror) was predicated on the 9/11 plans bin Laden laid out. We went to war in Afghanistan first to flush bin Laden out. Second, because the civilian leadership was quite frankly dumber than a bag of hammered dog shit, we pushed bin Laden into a corner and then just left him there. Third, contrary to what dear Sen. McCain says, attacking Al Qaeda position in Pakistan is not the same as invading the place. And finally, why the hell wouldn't we kill bin Laden if we had a prime opportunity to do so?
Al Qaeda in Iraq is an off-shoot of the main Al Qaeda terror group. They only arose as a natural response to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and have continued to move and act with relative impunity within Iraq. We won't defeat them conventionally and the greatest harm we can do is to kill, in a clear way, the leadership of Al Qaeda. That the Pakistani military is unwilling to go into those areas of their nation where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have regrouped is a pretty good indicator that we will have to take matters into our own hands.
Now Sen. Obama's comment was not a declaration of war against Pakistan but a clear statement on his position regarding Osama bin Laden. We aren't, nor would we, attack the Pakistani military unless they put themselves in-between us and our goal of killing bin Laden. So the only reasonable response is to say that we'll push through the Pakistani leadership to achieve our objective of killing a major terrorist leader. That Sen. Obama, a liberal, would make such a firm statement on the matter is telling of how prepared he is for the presidency. While following diplomatic channels is the first thing one should do, he acknowledges that such a path might end up going no where. Meanwhile bin Laden might sneak away again. So declaring that wherever bin Laden is, we will go and rain death down upon him not only shows some serious spine but reminds every other nation that we will not tolerate the harboring of terrorist groups. It serves a dual purpose of laying out a strategy without hemming us in on tactics. That, to me, is the sign of good leadership. It's allowing for adaptability without sacrificing our overall goal. As Billy Shaftoe of Cryptonomicon fame said, "Show some fucking adaptability."