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Monday, May 02, 2011

A simple question, asked upon the just dispatch of Osama bin Laden

How do we reconcile our president (a) holding a press conference to claim credit for killing Osama bin Laden, while at the very same time (b) maintaining a policy against targeting Mumar Kadafi?

Posted by Beldar at 06:03 PM in Global War on Terror, Obama | Permalink


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(1) rls made the following comment | May 2, 2011 8:59:51 PM | Permalink

He is a lying, mendacious hypocrite?

Alternately he literally had no choice but to pursue OBL as too many high intelligent people knew as much as he did and there was no way that he could vote "present".

He can lay off the Libya issue to NATO.....no pressure either internally or politically although there may be a minority of voices in the Administration urging the purging.

(2) Mark L made the following comment | May 2, 2011 9:38:14 PM | Permalink

Ooh! OOOH! *I* know the answer! You're a racist for *asking* that question.

Seriously though, I think the answer is that Khadaffi is not worth risking the lives of American soldiers, airmen, sailors to kill using a "boots on the ground" manner, while bin Laden was. And actually, the President *is* targeting Khadaffi, only targeting him using precision munitions. Obama is just lying when he claims that we are not targeting Khadaffi. (I know -- that last one makes me a racist, too.)

(3) Beldar made the following comment | May 3, 2011 1:12:45 AM | Permalink

Mark L: I'm asking specifically about the policy of not targeting Kadafi. We and our NATO allies are still spending money enforcing a "no-fly" zone in Libya. Yet if we could kill Kadafi without spending an extra dime or putting a single boot on the ground (or SEAL Team 6's boots for less than an hour), Obama says he wouldn't.

No one said, "Hey, wow, this operation to get OBL was a bargain, only cost us one chopper, some fuel, and a few hundred rounds of small arms ammo — USA! USA!"

So I come back to my question:

Why, as a matter of Obama Administration policy, is it okay to kill Osama bin Laden, but not Mumar Kadafi?

(4) Mark L made the following comment | May 3, 2011 6:27:55 AM | Permalink


As far as I can see, it *is* NATO policy to target Khadaffi. That is why there are so many airstrikes on "command locations" in Libya. (It is also NATO and US policy to lie about targeting Kadaffi, but it is obvious we *are* targeting him by the choice of sites being bombed.) The problem is that it is extremely difficult to kill a specific target via an airstrike. To do that you need to get up close and personal, as we did with bin Laden. Look at all of the airstrikes aimed against Saddam and his leadership minions during the Gulf War and Iraq War. Never got him, never got specific leaders. All had to be rounded up on the ground after we took Iraq.

Your real question is not "Why, as a matter of Obama Administration policy, is it okay to kill Osama bin Laden, but not Mumar Kadafi?" Rather it is "Why, as a matter of Obama Administration policy, is it okay to state publicly that it is our policy to kill Osama bin Laden, but to state publicly that it is not our policy to kill Mumar Kadafi -- and instead to lie and deny that is our objective?"

That one is pretty easy to answer. Since the only way to ensure that Kadaffi is dead is to send special forces in after him, the risk involved in doing so is extremely high, and (unlike bin Laden) the political cost of failure exceeds any potential gain (Khadaffi poses no strategic risk to the United States, and the American public is not emotionally invested in his termination as they were with bin Laden), you are better off denying that is your goal, at least until you get lucky and kill him -- at which point you say that was your goal all along. (And if you do not kill him you can pretend you did not fail at your real goal.)

Mendacious? Yup. Wouldn't expect anything less from Europeans or our first European President.

(5) Dan S made the following comment | May 3, 2011 11:06:51 AM | Permalink

Could it be that:

Khadaffi is a head of state

OBL was not.

That is a significant difference politically.

I am presently of the opinion that heads of state of the sort that Khadaffi is and Hussein was (and a few others currently are) should be legitimate, and certainly are the economical, targets of war. It is better to kill the CiC if that will end the war, or significantly shorten it, than kill hundreds, thousands or perhaps millions of civilians, especially in circumstances where we can legitimately doubt the culpability of those civilians.

(6) Milhouse made the following comment | May 3, 2011 11:14:13 AM | Permalink

"Khadaffi poses no strategic risk to the United States." Nor did bin Laden.

(7) Mike Giles made the following comment | May 3, 2011 6:35:50 PM | Permalink

Depends. If it looks like killing Gaddafi will earn Obama a few points in the polls - he's a dead man.

(8) CROG made the following comment | May 3, 2011 7:05:33 PM | Permalink

Part of the reason why we (and other countries) don't target enemy heads of state directly is the sense that "kings don't fight each other - they let their minions do the dirty work." I suggest that this attitude is distinctly feudal and has little place in the modern world. Really, why should the leader of any country we fight NOT be a suitable target for all our military power? A sense of "we don't fight that way" yields to this question: why not? What benefit do we gain by not attempting to kill leaders of enemy countries? Once we have chosen on war, why give greater moral standing to the leaders of other countries, greater than the soldiers of said country that we have no compunctions about killing. BTW: I used to be sympathetic to the idea of not killing other leaders, but no longer. Modern democratic republics can play that game and win (i.e. in the unlikely event there is an "exchange", our government is more resilient). Why should we give the more fragile dictatorships an undeserved advantage? We have the superior form of government, we should take full advantage of that.

(9) Gregory Koster made the following comment | May 4, 2011 12:20:56 AM | Permalink

Dear CROG: The difficulty is, if assassinations become systematic policy of democracies, what happens to the superior form of government? Sure Khadafy and bin Laden were enemies of America, who did much harm to this nation. But the same can be said of the zanies who run Iran. Why not bump them off? They are a much greater danger to America than either Khadafy or bin Laden. Why, in fact, does The One get mad when someone even mentions letting the Israelis kill the Iranian leadership with a big bombing raid? What's the principle used to decide which baddie gets knocked off while others snore away peacefully?

Mr. Dyer, I agree with you that the contradictions in the question you raise are outrageous. But shucks, that pass was sold long ago. Liberalism means the rules are for the small fry. It's the same sort of bunk that allows a Donald Berwick, the head of The One's effort to execute Obamacare and a lifelong suppporter in nationalized health care, to demand private health care coverage for himself and his wife. I note in the previous thread Friend#1, back in her pseudonymous role, is warbling about The One's wonderful achievementm capital letters and all. She's right; bin Laden's death is unambiguously good news for America and Americans. But let one successful retaliatory attack for this death happen while The One continues his career of ineptitude, and look for silence from her and other warblers. Bah.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(10) Mike Myers made the following comment | May 4, 2011 10:37:19 AM | Permalink

Or it could be that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. And as our Narcissist in Chief and his minions will constantly remind you, Obama does not have a small mind.

On the other hand I prefer to think of our current POTUSA as a reincarnation of Janus.

(11) CROG made the following comment | May 7, 2011 7:22:13 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Koster,

My argument is: IF we are in a state of war with another country THEN that country's leaders ought to be legitimate (even desirable) targets for our military power. As you well know, Iran and the U.S. are not at war, hence I do not support trying to kill Iran's leaders. Since we are (seemingly) in a state of war with Libya, I do support killing Gaddafi.

As to the larger issue, you seem to suggest that nation that engage in such behavior become morally no better than the current government of Iran, yet I ask: why is it OK to kill soldiers of an enemy country, yet an effort to kill the leadership is morally suspect? I believe people tend to gravitate to that position (killing leaders is bad) out of an ancient sense of respect for leaders (kings, divine favor, etc.). I assert such a position lacks a rational basis.

(12) C. S. P. Schofield made the following comment | May 8, 2011 8:18:07 PM | Permalink

Obama is a small time political activist elevated way over his level of ability by a Democrat Party desperate to win an election, no matter what it took. He has few ideas at the best of times, and what ideas he has do not do him much credit. On the subjects of Terrorism, the use of military force, and international relations in the Middle East he is in so far over his head that he probably doesn't even remember what the surface looked like as he sank. In consequence his policy decisions in such matters have been a series of unconnected nervous reflex actions, with no underlying logic.

Simple, neh?

Too bad the fix is nowhere near as simple.

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