Archive for the 'Bin Laden' Category



Continuing Fallout from Bin Laden Raid: Growing Chinese Role in Pakistan?

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 11 months ago

The raid to kill Bin Laden in Abbatabad, Pakistan, like a nuclear blast, has fallout beyond the immediate event.

One of those effects is the apparent impetus for closer relations between Pakistan and China.

The Economist noted earlier this month that Pakistan made no secret of praising its relations with China in the aftermath of the Bin Laden raid.

PAKISTAN’S ambassador to Beijing, Masood Kahn, was this week fully armed with metaphors to describe the robust friendship between the two countries. “We say it is higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight, sweeter than honey, and so on.”

The relationship is indeed a geopolitical keystone for both countries. Pakistan serves as China’s closest friend both in South Asia and among Islamic countries. So close, indeed, that many suspect China has asked Pakistan for the valuable remains of the American stealth helicopter abandoned during the bin Laden raid. Meanwhile, China can help counterbalance Pakistan’s arch-rival, India, including in Afghanistan.

Pakistan seems keen to foster the impression that new tensions with America might nudge it even closer towards China. In his blustery speech to parliament on May 9th Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani struck out on an odd tangent to praise China as an “all-weather friend”, providing Pakistan with strength and inspiration. Not to be outdone, President Asif Zardari issued an effusive statement of his own about a friendship “not matched by any other relationship between two sovereign countries”.

Others have noted the attempts by Pakistan to curry favor with China as well.   The Wall Street Journal Online has this:

BEIJING—Pakistan’s defense minister said China has agreed to take over operation of the strategically positioned but underused port of Gwadar, and that Islamabad would like the Chinese to build a base there for the Pakistani navy.

Ahmad Mukhtar gave no clear timetable on the possible change at Gwadar, on Pakistan’s western coast, which is currently managed by a Singaporean government company. But his statement Saturday is the latest illustration of how Pakistan is portraying China as a powerful alternative ally and aid source if the U.S. scales down military assistance for Islamabad in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s killing.

On the whole, given the duplicity of Pakistan and the inevitable conflict in the Pakistani tribal areas, putting some distance between the U.S. and Pakistan may be beneficial in the long run.   In other words:  if you want to jump into bed with China, good luck with their cold feet.

Both The Economist and The Wall Street Journal Online note the decidedly ambivalent feelings about Pakistan by the Chinese.  The Economist cautions:

But if Islamabad is worried about falling out with Washington and hopes to get more out of Beijing, it may be in for disappointment. According to Zhu Feng of Peking University, such calculations based on “the traditional mentality of power politics” are misplaced. China’s robust, longstanding ties with Pakistan stand on their own merits, he says, and owe nothing to America’s standing in Pakistan. Both China and America want a stable Pakistan.

For all that, China’s dealings with Pakistan have always been conducted with one eye on India. Last year Beijing chose to supply Pakistan with two new civilian nuclear reactors, even though the deal appeared to violate Chinese non-proliferation commitments. It was a boon not only for Pakistan’s energy-starved economy. It was, as Mr Zhu points out, also a way for China to counterbalance a controversial nuclear deal reached earlier between America and India.

China and Pakistan have a lustily growing trade relationship, worth almost $9 billion last year. China provides military gear, including fighter jets and frigates. Some Chinese infrastructure projects in Pakistan have strategic implications. They include ports on the Arabian Sea and a proposed rail project which has yet to be approved, but which would arouse controversy, and Indian ire, by running through contested territory in Kashmir.

Still, China’s commitment to Pakistan has its limits. After devastating floods last year, America gave Pakistan $690m, 28% of all international aid. China’s contribution was a mere $18m. According to Andrew Small of the German Marshall Fund, an American policy institute, Pakistan may be “talking up the ‘China option’ beyond where the Chinese are willing to go.” China, he reckons, will be reluctant to tilt too far towards what might look like an anti-India alliance”. Despite border disagreements, China wants to keep its relations with India in reasonable order.

What is more, Pakistan’s chronic instability and its failure, whether by design or incompetence, to suppress extremism make Pakistan as hard a partner for China to trust as for America. “Sweeter than honey” may be plenty sweet enough.

The WSJ sounds a similar note:

China is eager to expand its influence in Pakistan over the long term, but is wary of the country’s chronic instability, which was highlighted late Sunday when a Pakistani naval base was attacked in the western port of Karachi, about 300 miles southeast of Gwadar.

Indeed.  In some ways, Pakistan and China are made for each other.  One is chronically unstable and in dire need of constant foreign aid while the other is infamously stingy and calculating in its foreign affairs.   May they enjoy each others’ company for many years.  We can certainly use the money wasted in foreign aid to Pakistan for better purposes such as freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil.

At the same time, there is no doubt that India feels the pressure of a nuclear Pakistan and nuclear China on its borders.   The U.S. has everything to gain by pursuing closer ties with India, the rising power of the Near East.   Trading Pakistan for India would be like trading Hillary Clinton for Sarah Palin.   I think we can live with that exchange.

But we should be under no illusions that, whatever happens to the American-Pakistani relationship, China is increasingly in the mood to flex its muscles in the region.   According to an article flagged at Hot Air, China has reportedly given the U.S. something of an ultimatum regarding any future border incursions into Pakistan:

Barack Obama says that if the US has another chance to get a high-value terrorist target like Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, he’ll make the same call as he did earlier this month.  Not so fast, says China.  According to a report from India a few days ago, China has warned that an “attack” on Pakistan will be taken as an attack on China (via Pundit Press):

In the wake of the US raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden, China has “warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China”, a media report claimed today.

The warning was formally conveyed by the Chinese foreign minister at last week’s China-US strategic dialogue and economic talks in Washington, The News daily quoted diplomatic sources as saying. China also advised the USa to “respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and solidarity”, the report said.

Chinese Premier Mr Wen Jiabao informed his Pakistani counterpart Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani about the matters taken up with the US during their formal talks at the Great Hall of the People yesterday. The report said China “warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China”. The two premiers held a 45-minute one-on-one meeting before beginning talks with their delegations.

The Chinese leadership was “extremely forthcoming in assuring its unprecedented support to Pakistan for its national cause and security” and discussed all subjects of mutual interest with Mr Gilani, the report said. Mr Gilani described Pakistan-China relations and friendship as “unique”. Talking to Pakistani journalists accompanying him, he said that China had acknowledged his country’s contribution and sacrifices in the war against terrorism and supported its cause at the international level. “China supported Pakistan’s cause on its own accord,” Mr Gilani said with reference to the Sino-US strategic dialogue where the Chinese told the US that Pakistan should be helped and its national honour respected. Mr Gilani said China had asked the US to improve its relations with Pakistan, keeping in view the present scenario.

It it difficult to believe that China would truly be willing to go to war over, say, a Predator drone attack or even a SOF incursion into the FATA, but uncertainty over China’s reaction to any future missions of a similar nature will only add to the difficulty of having an ally with whom you are, in some measure, at war.

SEALs Only Found Weapons After OBL Killed

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

From The Guardian.

The AP reported that the Americans found “barriers” at each stair landing of the three-storey building, encountered fire once and killed three men and one woman. The account did not specify how many of the dead were armed.

After 15 minutes the Seals, passing huddles of frightened children, reached the top floor where they found Bin Laden at the end of the hallway. They said they recognised him “immediately”. Bin Laden ducked into a room, followed quickly by three Seals.

The first soldier pushed aside two women who tried to protect Bin Laden, apparently fearing they were wearing suicide vests, while the second opened fire on the al-Qaida leader, hitting him in the head and chest.

Moments later, as the Americans photographed his body, they found an AK-47 rifle and a Makarov pistol on a shelf beside the door they had just entered. Bin Laden had not touched the weapons, according to the AP account.

That settles it.  Their mission was to kill OBL.  I’m okay with that.  Actually, there is a little more to the story than that.  The CJCS Standing ROE and the Iraq- and Afghanistan-specific allows specific targeting of designated terrorist groups and declared enemy combatants.  But this gets muddled, and a prime example of this is when Moqtada al-Sadr was removed from that list.  Members of the Mahdi militia in Iraq could then no longer be targeted, and had to be treated as insurgents in the balance of Iraq, and captured if possible.

Members of the Taliban are like that.  But more to the point, because of the detailed intelligence surrounding the killing of OBL, the executive order and the fact that OBL was previously designated as a target, it was an easy decision for the SEALs.

Fast forward to the Helmand Province today.  In Marjah, 71% of the interviewees in one recent poll said that OBL’s death was a bad thing.  And regarding OBL’s death, the Marines are saying the following.

“We’re still here in Afghanistan, Sangin is still very hostile, especially where we’re at here, the enemy is still going to fight us, and we have to maintain our composure — not get complacent. Just because we took out the head honcho doesn’t mean these guys are gonna throw up their arms and be done with it.”

“There’s still a lot of work that needs to get done here. It’s a huge step in the right direction … but we still need to finish our mission. …”

“There’s always gonna be insurgency, it’s never gonna end. … This fight’s definitely gonna be a hard one to win, but I don’t think it’s impossible.”

“What happens tomorrow? We’re gonna just do the same thing. We’re gonna wake up and keep doing what we’re doing every single day until we’re out of here. Because we’ve got a job here. We’ve got a mission to complete. And that’s what we’re gonna do.”

“I think that everyone’s gonna be real happy about the fact that it’s one bad man that can’t hurt anybody else, but … It’s one more day. … It didn’t end the war for us. … I think everybody’s just gotta stay focused on what they’re doing.”

The war continues.  And there continues to be a double standard concerning rules of engagement.

Prior: Bin Laden: Mission Kill!

Isolationist Fever: Ron Paul’s Delirious Statements on Bin Laden

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 11 months ago

I have previously commented on the absurd isolationism of Rep. Ron Paul and his fellow travelers, but this recent interview by WHODSM (Iowa) radio host, Simon Conway, is one of those watershed moments when anyone with a minimally-functioning brain has to reconsider whatever support they may have had for Paul.

Consider this 6+ minute clip from the interview (part 4 of a 5-part video series) in which host, Simon Conway, asks Rep. Paul a series of foreign policy questions:

To recap, the host takes Ron Paul through several topics.   The one that has gotten the most press has been the one that occurs at 3:58 in the clip.

SC:  …Are you asking us to believe that a President Ron Paul could have ordered the kill of Bin Laden by entering another sovereign nation?

RP: [No, things would be done differently, per the model of the arrest of the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks, Kalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was arrested by Pakistani agents and turned over to the U.S. for trial.  Also similar to the arrest and prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers].

They were all captured and brought and tried in a civilian court and they’ve all been punished, so, no, what’s wrong with that?  Why can’t we… work with the government [of Pakistan]?

SC: I just want to be clear.  A President Ron Paul would therefore not have ordered the kill of Bin Laden which… could only have taken place by entering a sovereign nation?

RP: I don’t think it was necessary, no… It was absolutely not necessary and I think respect for the rule of law and world law, international law. What if he’d been in a hotel in London?  I mean…you know, if we wanted to keep it secret?  So, would we have sent the airplane, the… helicopter into London?  Because they were afraid the information might get out?  No, you don’t want to do that.

(Emphasis Added)

First, the underlying premise behind Paul’s statements is that the capture, civilian trial and imprisonment of Osama Bin Laden would be preferable to: (a) death or, in the alternative; (b) indefinite detention as an illegal combatant or prosecution in a military tribunal with a conviction carrying the death penalty.  There have been plenty of others who have commented on the folly of according terrorists the full rights of American citizens to an Article III, civilian court trial.   The total debacle in the Ghalani trial was proof enough of that.  Ron Paul apparently still subscribes to the ridiculous notion that the war against Islamofascism can be fought as a criminal investigation.   Where has Ron Paul been living for the past 10 years?  Has he paid any attention to the War or is he simply playing the ostrich and ignoring world events altogether?

Notice, too, Ron Paul’s touching faith in the government of Pakistan?  “Why can’t we…work with the government” of Pakistan?  Gosh, that is an incisive question Dr. Paul.   You really cut to the heart of the matter.

Afterall, as he points out, the Pakistanis did such a bang-up job of scouring the country for Bin Laden in the first place, hiding right next to their premier military academy, a police station and a breezy drive from their own capital!  And let’s remember that the Pakistani government has done such a good job cooperating with our war efforts in Afghanistan that they only allow one, vast swath of their tribal border area to be a safe-haven, staging area and training ground for the enemy attacking our forces in Afghanistan, instead of two or three.   Now that’s progress!   And no doubt Dr. Paul would point out that he would have no problems working with the Pakistani government that just disclosed the identity of our CIA station chief in Pakistan, or the one that is contemplating turning over our ultra-advanced, stealth helicopter wreckage to China for inspection and reverse engineering (something at which the Chinese have found they do quite well based on the number and variety of pirated products flooding the U.S. market).  And, it is not like the Pakistani government has ever ratted to the Islamofascists about pending U.S. drone strikes, military raids or strategic moves.    Yes, Dr. Paul, I can see why you would want to work with that Pakistani government.

Second, Ron Paul— the Ron Paul who wants to disengage from all manner of international institutions— points to “respect for… international law” as a basis for not taking the kill shot on Bin Laden.  The interview does not bring out Paul’s precise meaning here, but he seems to be alluding to the international legal maxim that one nation should not violate the sovereignty of another nation in the absence of declared war.   As applied to the war against Islamofascism, however, this is nonsense.  The Islamists derive their primary strength, like a virus, by illegally inhabiting the territory of nation states too weak (or too irresolute) to remove them.  Thus it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. to directly attack the Islamists without either declaring war on each and every infected country or violating infected country’s sovereignty.    Indeed, the very notion of “sovereignty” is called into question when a nation (such as Pakistan) fails or refuses to exercise the degree of control over its own territory to prevent it from becoming a haven for illegal wars by the likes of Al Qaeda.   In my view, Pakistan has no more right to claim a violation of sovereignty over the tribal areas infested with terrorists than Mexico had when it allowed Pancho Villa to operate freely in the border areas with Texas.  In this ever-shrinking world where death can be dealt out to thousands in New York and Washington, D.C. from relatively unsophisticated, third-world terrorists hosted halfway across the globe, the notion of sovereign territory is in flux, to say the least.

Third, and most damning of all, this interview reveals either a grave intellectual deficit or a type of lunacy to Ron Paul that must cause all, previous supporters to push him to the side.   When Ron Paul poses a hypothetical about Bin Laden living in a hotel in London as a proof against the raid to kill Bin Laden in Pakistan, it is breathtaking.   It is one of those moments when you must ask yourself, “Did he really just say that?”   It is as telling a remark as we are likely to get.  Just the multiple levels of absurdity of the comparison of Bin Laden in a hotel in London to a compound outside the capital of Pakistan is astounding:  (a) imagine a scenario where Bin Laden, lives in a London hotel– a London hotel for God’s sake!  (b) the British government is equally negligent in either not discovering Bin Laden in the hotel  (Sorry, I just cannot keep from laughing over this hotel bit…) or intentionally overlooking it vis a vis Pakistan;  (c) assuming all of the above, once discovered by the intrepid U.S. intelligence services who have been monitoring Bin Laden’s room service orders and porn film choices for months, the British government cannot be trusted to send Agent 007 over to take care of the matter which (d) forces the U.S. to send in the same SOF helicopter assault team (from one of their bases in England no less), to the London hotel, rather than simply send, say, Jason Bourne, and; (e) whisk Bin Laden’s body away to a waiting destroyer in the Atlantic for proper, Islamic burial at sea.

That a declared presidential candidate in the U.S. would attempt to illustrate the illegality of the Bin Laden raid by posing a hypothetical of a similar raid on a London hotel has got to be the greatest farce of the 21st century (thus far).   This is absolutely disqualifying stuff.   To reiterate, it shows either gross intellectual incompetence or a mental instability of some kind.   (Charles Krauthamer, call your office, please).   The fact that there are many people in conservative circles who ardently support Ron Paul is shocking.

I am not, by the way, making the point that Ron Paul’s mere opposition to the Bin Laden raid is, by itself, disqualifying.  I think it is at least possible that reasonable minds can differ on the manner of killing Bin Laden.   Afterall, I believe it would have been quite reasonable and proper to have used drones or precision-guided munitions to obliterate Bin Laden’s compound.   While civilian casualties should be minimized whenever possible, there is equal responsibility on the Pakistani government, for example, for allowing terrorists to infest civilian areas similar to that of the German and Japanese military facilities intentionally located in civilian areas during World War II.   The criticism here is the manner in which Ron Paul defends his positions.   Even someone inclined to support him for president would have to concede that, based on the crack-pot thinking in this interview, he would be torn to shreds in any debate with Obama.   And here lies the greatest danger:  if for whatever reason, Ron Paul supporters decide to sit out the 2012 election (or, God forbid, Paul runs a Ross Perot-like campaign), that may be all that Obama needs for re-election.

It is one thing to re-elect a Bill Clinton.   He was a lecherous fool re-elected at a unique period in history that afforded us the luxury of blind leadership.   We do not live in such a time now and, based on the first two and one-half years, we cannot survive the re-election of Obama.    Where Clinton was the prototypical finger-to-the-wind politician who cared more than anything for his legacy and female attentions, Obama has shown a frightening determination to radically alter the economic foundations of the U.S. in order to effect radical, political change  (all of which is masterfully outlined in detailed research by Stanley Kurtz in his book, Radical In Chief–Barack Obama And The Untold Story of American Socialism).

There is, however, something more going on here.   It is more than just an occasional nonsensical statement from a Congressman.   Paul’s remarks reflect the ravings of someone who has bought into a doctrine that makes no sense and, therefore, results in comments that can make no sense.    That doctrine is isolationism.   It is very much like a sickness that increasingly causes its adherents to say and do the most absurd things.   Besides the nuttiness of Ron Paul’s comments on killing Bin Laden– an avowed terror mastermind and lawless combatant fully deserving of death– Ron Paul is driven, by the isolationist madness I believe, to say all manner of things disconnected with reality.   Driven because isolationism simply does not comport with the world in which we live.  In order to make the connection, isolationists must routinely resort to conspiracy theories and wishful thinking and crackpot analogies.   As evidence of this, listen to the full interview (in all 5 parts) between Simon Conway and Ron Paul.    Rep. Paul actually makes good points about taxation and spending and the nature of government, but as soon as Conway veers onto foreign policy, the isolationist fever takes over.

When asked about Iraq, Ron Paul firmly takes hold of the “Bush Lied, Kids Died” meme of the Left, saying that “we got into [the Iraq war] not being told the truth.  We were told there were weapons of mass destruction aimed at us, that Al Qaeda was there, that wasn’t true.”  When asked by the host to clarify whether he thought that President Bush intentionally misled the nation or was given faulty intelligence, Paul essentially said that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if there had been a conspiracy from the “Vice President” on down to lower-level advisers to manipulate and falsify the intelligence.

This is looney tunes land.   And it would be funny if not for the potential to disaffect enough voters to throw the 2012 election to Obama.   So here is a call to all Ron Paul-bots out there:  get a real candidate.   Ron Paul has made himself ridiculous with his isolationist pretensions.   We cannot beat back Obama without you.   And for anyone else indulging in isolationist thinking, it is time to take a strong dose of reality and come back to full health.

The Morphing of the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

Joshua Foust is both a genuinely good guy and an expert on the affairs of Central Asia.  I am neither.  With that said, I strongly disagree with the theme of his analysis of the question of whether all militants are the same?  He weighs in thusly.

Max Boot thinks all militants are the same.

Of greater immediate concern are al Qaeda’s allies: the Quetta Shura Taliban, the Haqqani network and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HiG), which among them deploy thousands of hardened terrorists. These groups, in turn, are part of a larger conglomeration of extremists based in Pakistan including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban), Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed…

The major difference among them, at least so far, has been one of geographic focus. The Taliban, the Haqqani network and HiG want to seize power in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban aspires to rule in Islamabad. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are primarily focused on wresting Kashmir away from India, although there have been reports of the former’s network expanding into Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Only al Qaeda has a global focus—so far.

Apart from rightly noting that al Qaeda is the only one of these groups that poses even a remote threat to the U.S. homeland, this is basically all wrong—so wrong I’m curious if it is the result of maliciousness or just laziness. Boot engages in some worrying conflations and conceptual fuzziness. Assuming the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban groups work together, are equally associated with al Qaeda, or pose an equal and in some way interchangeable threat is, put simply, dramatically at odds with our understanding of those groups, their goals, and their methods. There is no ” a larger conglomeration of extremists,” as he asserts, as that term implies an interoperability that just doesn’t exist in the real world.

Mullah Omar, contrary to what Boot writes, was not closer to Osama bin Laden than Hafiz Muhammed Saeed — and that sort of formulation misses the point anyway. Similarly, and again in contrast to Boot’s portrayal, there ARE a number of signs that the Afghan Taliban (NOT the Pakistani Taliban or Kashmir-focused terror groups, all of which Boot confuses) is seeking a way to break with al Qaeda — and we have reports of these signs going back at least to 2008.

We’ll start with this bit.  I am of the opinion – based on what I have studied – that most of the so-called Afghan “Taliban” who have sought to “reconcile” with the Karzai government are washed-up has-beens who want an easier life as they go into their golden years.  They play us and the Afghan government for fools, and they don’t legitimately represent either the Quetta Shura or Tehrik-i-Taliban (or any allied or affiliated or similar group).

Moving on, it might have been legitimate to have discussed divisions, subdivisions and categories of Taliban and al Qaeda ten or even six years ago.  Things have changed since then.

… they have evolved into a much more radical organization than the original Taliban bent on global engagement, what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban. The TTP shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.  A Pakistan interior ministry official has even said that the TTP and al Qaeda are one and the same.

Nick Schmidle – who is also a genuinely good guy and a scholar – gave us a learned warning shot over the bow.  It was reiterated by David Rohde who was in captivity by the Taliban.

Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.

More recently we have a report at the Asia Times from Syed Saleem Shahzad on Maulvi Nazir.

Extremely loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and a part of the Afghan Taliban, Nazir began as a conventional Talib guerrilla and a follower of the populist traits of the Taliban movement.

This changed in 2006, when, like many others including Sirajuddin Haqqani, Nazir became inspired by al-Qaeda and realized that fighting a war without modern guerrilla techniques meant draining vital human resources for no return.

That led to the advancement of the skills of Nazir’s fighters, and it also came with rewards.

In Afghanistan, if a commander sticks solely to his relations with the Taliban, he will never climb the ladder to prominence and the Taliban can only provide a limited number of local tribal fighters and meager funds. But if a commander allies with al-Qaeda, he is given the opportunity for joint operations with top Arab commanders who arrange finances for those operations.

Similarly, breakaway factions of Pakistani jihadi organizations like the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Laskhar-e-Taiba and the Harkatul Mujahideen also supply an unending stream of fighters to those commanders associated with al-Qaeda.

Nazir’s affiliation with al-Qaeda seems to have passed unnoticed by the United States and NATO, which are investing heavily in a reconciliation process with the “good Taliban” and they appear not to understand the drastic changes that have taken place among the top cadre of the Taliban …

“What is the rationale of dialogue after NATO’s withdrawal?” Nazir asked rhetorically. “Then, the Taliban and NATO can hold a dialogue on whether the Taliban would attack their interests all over the world or not, and what treaties should be undertaken in that regard.”

Taken aback by this statement from a Taliban stalwart who is not perceived as being a global jihadi but simply a guerrilla fighting against occupation forces in Afghanistan, I intervened. “Hitting Western targets abroad might be al-Qaeda’s agenda, but it is not the Taliban’s, so why should the West negotiate that with the Taliban?”

“Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are one and the same. At an operational level we might have different strategies, but at the policy level we are one and the same,” Nazir said, surprising me further.

I’m usually hesitant to cite Syed Saleem Shahzad since he is a mouth piece (witting or unwittingly) for the Taliban.  But occasionally he scores significant interviews, and those tend to be very productive and informative.  For this particular interview, the only thing that surprises me is that Syed Saleem Shahzad is surprised.

To be sure, there are factions within the TTP, and in fact, the Taliban are an amalgam of groups, subgroups, factions, leaders, and so on and so forth, some of whom disagree and even level threats at each other.

So what?  We all knew that.  The question redounds to threat, or some approximation thereof.  And so here is the crux of the issue.  Back to Foust as he opines “If these groups do not pose a threat to the United States, then it is not our problem to “fix” them. Period.”  And he summarizes.

I had hoped that the death of Osama bin Laden would at least temporarily tamp down on the irresponsible fear-mongering over a few crazies with guns in mountains whose names we cannot pronounce and who cannot and do not pose an existential threat to our existence. I guess my hope was mistaken.

Well, yes, no and maybe, depending upon point and inflection.  Let’s dissect.  I agree that it’s not the task of the U.S. to fix all of the world’s problems if there is no national security interest.  In fact, I couldn’t agree more.  While it’s laudable that we might want women treated better in Afghanistan, that’s not a reason for war.  We cannot be the policemen of the world, nor does the world want us as policemen.

But this issue of threat is more complex.  Don’t forget that the Hamburg cell headed for Afghanistan intent on receiving training and returning to Germany to perpetrate violence there.  It was OBL who persuaded them to pull off an attack in the States, and we know it as 9/11.  It was actually a fairly simple attack, and if there is any mistake that the AQ leadership is making at the moment it is that they are focusing on big, flashy attacks when they should be focusing on the simple.  I am thankful for this error in judgment.

I have already described an attack that America simply cannot absorb despite the ignorance of the current administration (who claims that we’re just fine).  The unfortunate truth is that American infrastructure, from bridges to malls, from buildings to roads, from airports to power plants, from water supplies to electrical grid, hasn’t been hardened since 9/11.  It would cost too much money to do it, far more than waging a counterinsurgency campaign in the hinterlands of the earth for the next decade.

As for threat, I never really believed that Baitullah Mehsud could actually pull off an attack on Washington, D.C.  What’s important is that he wanted to.  With enough time, money, motivation and several hundred dedicated fighters, I could bring the economy of the United States to its knees.  So can any smart Taliban leader.

Unlike Josh who believes that Max believes that all militants are the same, I see his mistake differently.  Max Boot makes the mistake of subdividing the Taliban, as if these are neat, clean, Aristotelian categories into which we can drop an organization.  This is wrong in my estimation.  They have swam in the same waters for the last decade with globalists galore, and this ideology has morphed the Pakistani Taliban into something they weren’t.  To a lesser extent this has happened with the Afghan Taliban.  Lesser extent, I admit, but it’s still there.  The mistake Joshua makes is that he sees no threat.  Again, this is wrong in my estimation.

I can play the subdivision game too.  I know the various groups of militants in the Pech River Valley, Hindu Kush, Kandahar, Helmand, FATA and NWFP.  It just doesn’t matter as much as it might have a few years ago, and to some extent I see it as pedantic and braggadocios to list out all of the names (and it’s even more impressive if you pronounce the names right – and for heaven’s sake, pronounce “Pech” correctly as “Pesh”).

But at some point I think this is all being too smart for our own good, and fiddling while Rome burns (or in this case, Central Asia).  The death of Bin Laden will have little affect on the global insurgency.  He and his ilk were but one manifestation of the globalist Islamist movement, the larger framework being the Muslim Brotherhood.  With the air of respectability, the MB will proceed apace.  Their military manifestation will still be seen in AQ, the TTP, Hamas, Hezbollah and others.  Bin Laden is dead.  The war continues.

Bin Laden: Mission Kill!

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

As we discussed in Mission Kill or Mission Capture the administration just can’t get the narrative straight.  The situation isn’t improving with time.  One U.S. official said “Our Special Forces weren’t raiding a girl scout troop looking for overdue library books. They were on a kill mission for Osama bin Laden.”  Very well.  I’m okay with that.  But the administration continues to botch the narrative with discussions about justification for the raid.  He had access to guns, and “He was not compliant. He did not surrender.”  So the rules for killing (between our previous discussion and this one) now include the possibility that he may be wearing an explosive vest, having access to weapons, and being noncompliant.

In addition to having to kill insurgents, my own son had to lay football style tackles down on people in Fallujah 2007 because they didn’t have weapons and yet needed to be detained or brought down for whatever reason.  And every house he entered had weapons.  And as for the possibility that someone may have explosives, that might have been a justification for shooting in almost any domicile they raided (and there is a difference between entering and raiding, and they did raid and perform room clearing operations).

There is more though.  Senator Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, gives us more insight into just what happened.

”I hope they went in with the idea of killing him, not capturing him. We needed to take this guy out. And I know that’s what the executive order said.

“The other thing you have to remember is that this was pitch dark. When they got into the room with bin Laden, they already had to go through some other folks downstairs, two of which they killed. And they were having to use explosives to blow doors open. By the time they got to him, they didn’t know what they would find.”

Well, being pitch dark is irrelevant and doesn’t affect the rules of engagement.  That’s just one more justification in an attempt to hide the apparent executive order to kill Bin Laden.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I still have no problem with the order, if it was issued.  It seems to comport with the other information that has been unearthed.  I have a problem with Marines in the Helmand Province operating under different rules, rules that force them to arrest known Taliban IED emplacers, who have blown the legs off of fellow Marines, and then who are seen walking by waving and smiling while the Marines are on patrol a week later because the prison system is so corrupt in Afghanistan.

Try to convince the Marines in Helmand that Bin Laden was a higher value target than the Taliban who just made sure that their buddy would never walk again.  Try to convince my friend John Bernard – who lost his only son Joshua Bernard in Dahaneh, Afghanistan on 8/14/09 and won’t see him again this side of heaven – that SEAL Team 6, however much we might appreciate their work in this raid, should be operating under rules that make them any more safe than the Marines in Helmand or U.S. Soldiers in the Pech River Valley.

It’ll be a mighty hard sell to me.

Prior: Bin Laden: Mission Kill or Mission Capture?

The Death of Bin Laden And the Myth of ‘American Empire’

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 11 months ago

I can’t believe I am going to give space to this Article by Timothy Carney in The Washington Examiner, but, as it seems to represent a growing feeling out there, even among conservatives, Mr. Carney’s article may be useful in clarifying some issues that get awfully foggy when something happens like the killing of Bin Laden.

Mr. Carney’s piece posits these incredible insights:

The United States’ long, bloody occupation of Afghanistan did not significantly help the U.S. find and kill Osama bin Laden, current evidence indicates. Neither did the invasion and occupation of Iraq help in decapitating al Qaeda, it appears.

The means of bin Laden’s demise, and the location of his hideout, both undermine the arguments offered for the last decade by hawks who claimed an invasion of Iraq and an imperial presence in Afghanistan would help America smash al Qaeda.

Somehow, Carney (and others) have been trying to turn the killing of Osama Bin Laden into more than just the swing of the executioner’s axe.  But no matter how it is spun, there is no, larger lesson here.  Bin Laden was a crazed beast that needed to be hunted down and terminated.   If there is a larger lesson, it is not in the killing of Bin Laden, per se, but in the means– the necessity for utmost secrecy, to keep even a whiff of the operation from a purported ally, Pakistan, and to covertly violate Pakistani airspace to a location deep within its borders, some 40 miles outside of its capital.  But for Carney and his fellow travelers the killing of Bin Laden is an opportunity to beat the drum for retreat, defeat and America-bashing thrown in for good measure.

Rather than produce any, real evidence, Carney puts together a straw man:  “hawks who claimed an invasion of Iraq and an imperial presence in Afghanistan would help America smash al Qaeda.”   I challenge Mr. Carney to produce the quotes of these so-called “hawks” that “for the last decade” have been calling for “an imperial presence” in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

This notion of an Imperial America needs to be stamped out on a regular basis.   It seems to be a habitat for those determined to blame America for all that is wrong in the world and determined, furthermore, to reduce the U.S. to a whimpering shell.   Victor Davis Hanson, the classical historian and Hoover Institute resident scholar, has said many times, the U.S. is not an Imperial power nor does it maintain an “Empire” in any, proper understanding of those terms.  From his 2002 opinion piece on the subject:

But if we really are imperial, we rule over a very funny sort of empire.

We do not send out proconsuls to reside over client states, which in turn impose taxes on coerced subjects to pay for the legions. Instead, American bases are predicated on contractual obligations — costly to us and profitable to their hosts. We do not see any profits in Korea, but instead accept the risk of losing almost 40,000 of our youth to ensure that Kias can flood our shores and that shaggy students can protest outside our embassy in Seoul.

Athenians, Romans, Ottomans, and the British wanted land and treasure and grabbed all they could get when they could. The United States hasn’t annexed anyone’s soil since the Spanish-American War — a checkered period in American history that still makes us, not them, out as villains in our own history books. Most Americans are far more interested in carving up the Nevada desert for monster homes than in getting their hands on Karachi or the Amazon basin. Puerto Ricans are free to vote themselves independence anytime they wish.

Imperial powers order and subjects obey. But in our case, we offer the Turks strategic guarantees, political support — and money — for their allegiance. France and Russia go along in the U.N. — but only after we ensure them the traffic of oil and security for outstanding accounts. Pakistan gets debt relief that ruined dot-coms could only dream of; Jordan reels in more aid than our own bankrupt municipalities.

****

Empires usually have contenders that check their power and through rivalry drive their ambitions. Athens worried about Sparta and Persia. Rome found its limits when it butted up against Germany and Parthia. The Ottomans never could bully too well the Venetians or the Spanish. Britain worried about France and Spain at sea and the Germanic peoples by land. In contrast, the restraint on American power is not China, Russia, or the European Union, but rather the American electorate itself — whose reluctant worries are chronicled weekly by polls that are eyed with fear by our politicians. We, not them, stop us from becoming what we could.

The Athenian ekklesia, the Roman senate, and the British Parliament alike were eager for empire and reflected the energy of their people. In contrast, America went to war late and reluctantly in World Wars I and II, and never finished the job in either Korea or Vietnam. We were likely to sigh in relief when we were kicked out of the Philippines, and really have no desire to return. Should the Greeks tell us to leave Crete — promises, promises — we would be more likely to count the money saved than the influence lost. Take away all our troops from Germany and polls would show relief, not anger, among Americans. Isolationism, parochialism, and self-absorption are far stronger in the American character than desire for overseas adventurism. Our critics may slur us for “overreaching,” but our elites in the military and government worry that they have to coax a reluctant populace, not constrain a blood-drunk rabble.

***

Most empires chafe at the cost of their rule and complain that the expense is near-suicidal. Athens raised the Aegean tribute often, and found itself nearly broke after only the fifth year of the Peloponnesian War. The story of the Roman Empire is one of shrinking legions, a debased currency, and a chronically bankrupt imperial treasury. Even before World War I, the Raj had drained England. In contrast, America spends less of its GNP on defense than it did during the last five decades. And most of our military outlays go to training, salaries, and retirements — moneys that support, educate, and help people rather than simply stockpile weapons and hone killers. The eerie thing is not that we have 13 massive $5 billion carriers, but that we could easily produce and maintain 20 more.

***

Our bases dot the globe to keep the sea-lanes open, thugs and murderers under wraps, and terrorists away from European, Japanese, and American globalists who profit mightily by blanketing the world with everything from antibiotics and contact lenses to BMWs and Jennifer Lopez — in other words, to keep the world safe and prosperous enough for Michael Moore to rant on spec, for Noam Chomsky to garner a lot of money and tenure from a defense-contracting MIT, for Barbra Streisand to make millions, for Edward Said’s endowed chair to withstand Wall Street downturns, for Jesse Jackson to take off safely on his jet-powered, tax-free junkets.

***

Intervention is supposed to be synonymous with exploitation; thus the Athenians killed, enslaved, exacted, and robbed on Samos and Melos. No one thought Rome was going into Numidia or Gaul — one million killed, another million enslaved — to implant local democracy. Nor did the British decide that at last 17th-century India needed indigenous elections. But Americans have overthrown Noriega, Milosevic, and Mullah Omar and are about to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein, to put in their places elected leaders, not legates or local client kings. Instead of the much-rumored “pipeline” that we supposedly coveted in Afghanistan, we are paying tens of millions to build a road and bridges so that Afghan truckers and traders won’t break their axles.

In that regard, America is also a revolutionary, rather than a stuffy imperial society. Its crass culture abroad — rap music, Big Macs, Star Wars, Pepsi, and Beverly Hillbillies reruns — does not reflect the tastes and values of either an Oxbridge elite or a landed Roman aristocracy. That explains why Le Monde or a Spanish deputy minister may libel us, even as millions of semi-literate Mexicans, unfree Arabs, and oppressed southeast Asians are dying to get here. It is one thing to mobilize against grasping, wealthy white people who want your copper, bananas, or rubber — quite another when your own youth want what black, brown, yellow, and white middle-class Americans alike have to offer. We so-called imperialists don’t wear pith helmets, but rather baggy jeans and backwards baseball caps. Thus far the rest of the globe — whether Islamic fundamentalists, European socialists, or Chinese Communists — has not yet formulated an ideology antithetical to the kinetic American strain of Western culture.

Much, then, of what we read about the evil of American imperialism is written by post-heroic and bored elites, intellectuals, and coffeehouse hacks, whose freedom and security are a given, but whose rarified tastes are apparently unshared and endangered. In contrast, the poorer want freedom and material things first — and cynicism, skepticism, irony, and nihilism second. So we should not listen to what a few say, but rather look at what many do.

Critiques of the United States based on class, race, nationality, or taste have all failed to explicate, much less stop, the American cultural juggernaut. Forecasts of bankrupting defense expenditures and imperial overstretch are the stuff of the faculty lounge. Neither Freud nor Marx is of much help. And real knowledge of past empires that might allow judicious analogies is beyond the grasp of popular pundits.

Add that all up, and our exasperated critics are left with the same old empty jargon of legions and gunboats.

Hard to say it any better than that.

Moving on to the other silly notions in Carney’s piece,he writes:

Bin Laden’s capture provides no vindication to those hawks who argued that invading Iraq would provide a treasure trove of intelligence on al Qaeda, nor those who insisted that 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan were a key part of our war on the terrorist network.

“We found bin Laden in Pakistan without troops on the ground,” counterterrorism expert Michael Cohen, formerly of the New America Foundation, told me. “We didn’t need troops on the ground to carry out a very successful operation.”

The location of bin Laden’s compound — a few hundred yards from a Pakistani military school — also deflates another argument of hawks. President Bush said in April that a U.S. exit from Afghanistan would “create a safe haven for terrorists.”

This notion underestimates the capabilities of American intelligence and military forces: Our drones, spies and special forces can strike basically anywhere. But it also ignores the ability of terrorists to hide in plain sight: Bin Laden was not stowing away in some clandestine cave in the wild regions of Afghanistan or Pakistan. He was living within shouting distance of Pakistan’s West Point, possibly since his compound was built in 2005.

Liberal blogger and former hawk Matt Yglesias made this same point: “Trying to physically conquer and occupy territory in order to prevent it from being used by terrorists is extremely difficult, oftentimes counterproductive, unnecessary, and offers no guarantee of success.”

Who ever argued that invading Iraq would provide “a treasure trove of intelligence on Al Qaeda” ? The 2003 invasion of Iraq was always about the removal of a crazed dictator, hostile to the U.S., in possession of weapons of mass destruction.   As it turned out, Al Qaeda was drawn to Iraq like a mosquito to a bug zapper.  And, predictably enough, that “bug” got zapped by the Marines, but good.  Carney seems to be making up the bit about “hawks” from whole cloth.

As for his contention that the troops in Afghanistan served no useful purpose in the killing of Bin Laden, where does Carney think that the helicopters took off from, New Jersey?   Clearly the bases in Afghanistan were critical in providing the point of departure for the attack and, no doubt, logistical support as well.  Carney’s point about the U.S. capability to “strike basically anywhere” is only relevant in the context of decapitation operations.   As TCJ has argued repeatedly, those operations, as useful as they may be to disrupt, will never defeat the enemy.  Carney’s points exist in a fanciful vacuum where he imagines that SOF can win the war single-handedly somehow.    The quotation from Yglesias simply underscores this myopic thinking:  of course it is difficult to invade, occupy and root out the terrorists and there is no guarantee of success.   Sometimes, however, it is necessary and no amount of hand-wringing will change that fact.

Whether Carney likes it or not, there is simply no, easy option for fighting the Islamofascists.   They have to be beaten like Al Qaeda was in Anbar Province, Iraq:  direct, kinetic operations that wipe them out mercilessly and demonstrate to the population that terrorism is the losing side.   The popular notion that we cannot “kill our way” out of an insurgency is too often political cover for avoiding the hard reality of the fight.

We can argue about whether the strategy in Afghanistan has been correct.  The evidence coming in from Helmand Province and Kandahar, where U.S. Marines are literally wiping the floor with the enemy and making it impossible for them to re-infiltrate, is encouraging.   It is the path to victory and it is the only, viable exit.

Those of Mr. Carney’s opinion looking for lessons from the war on terror thus far  should study Iraq, not the elimination of Bin Laden.    At the height of the hysteria in 2006, when people (no doubt Mr. Carney included) were calling the war in Iraq hopeless and unwinnable, President Bush brought in more forces to apply more pressure and better kinetic operations against the terrorists.   The hard fighting in 2007 paid off and by late 2007, Al Qaeda was clearly on the run and a broken and humiliated foe.   Although I personally disagree with the rapid draw down in Iraq, there is no doubt that our very ability to draw down is due entirely to the butt-kicking that we gave the terrorists (and Al Sadr’s thugs) in 2006-2007.    Iraq is relatively stable today, with extremely low casualty levels.

Turning back to Afghanistan, the U.S. does not look for “excuses” to surrender and run away.   Maybe Obama does, but not the U.S.   We either win the fight by taking it to the terrorists, or we decide that the fight is not in our national interest and we leave.   Either way, it has nothing to do with a so-called Empire or the killing of Bin Laden.  The killing of Bin Laden satisfied a basic need to see retributive justice done.   (This, as a side-bar, is far different than revenge and, therefore, wholly justifiable).   But, as others have observed, the tide of war has long left Bin Laden behind and shifted to other, more important locations:  Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.  Although it is understandable for politicians to grandstand and preen over a successful mission, it would be far better for national security if we congratulated the work of our military and intelligence services and quickly moved on to grappling with the important tasks at hand.

Bin Laden: Mission Kill or Mission Capture?

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 11 months ago

A striking contradiction has been present for a long time in the so-called war on terror, but this contradiction is highlighted with the recent death of Osama Bin Laden, the highest of all high value targets.  There are two narratives that have developed in the short time since he was killed (it’s amazing that any administration could get things so confused).

The first narrative is that the women were thrown out in front of the men and used as human shields.  This makes me celebrate.  No, not the death of non-combatants, but the action, if it in fact occurred.  Bin Laden, who is routinely shown in file tape toting a Kalashnikov and wearing tactical gear, hid in caves at Tora Bora rather than fight, and then fled when he could.  Rather than fight with his recruits or even be seen in public, he hides behind walls and then when the fight is brought to him, rather than protect his family, he throws them out in front of himself to avoid being shot.

How rich.  Jihadist-Warrior-Martyr my ass.  He was a cowardly weasel.  I’m okay with this.  Or, there is the second narrative to consider, and it makes me happy too.  Rather than fighting from behind women and children, they just got in the way and some perished while others were wounded.  But the legendary, storied SEAL Team 6 simply went in and shot him.  Bin Laden didn’t even have a weapon when he was shot.  In fact, not a single shot was fired at the SEAL Team (presumably the Pakistani police know this because of spent cartridges?).

Working hard to justify this to themselves, they are.  Eric Holder testified before Congress today.

“The operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed was lawful,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “He was the head of al-Qaida, an organization that had conducted the attacks of September 11th. He admitted his involvement and he indicated that he would not be taken alive. The operation against bin Laden was justified as an act of national self defense.”

He was a very bad guy and we’re in a war.  Fine.  But wait, there’s more.

Holder said bin Laden was a legitimate military target and he had made no attempt to surrender to the U.S. forces that stormed his fortified compound near Islamabad on Monday. He was shot in the chest and head.

It was lawful to target an enemy commander in the field and the mission was conducted in the way that was consistent with U.S. laws and values, Holder testified, adding that it was a “kill or capture mission.”

“If he had attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do that. And therefore his killing was appropriate,” Holder said.

Senator Lindsey Graham chimed in thusly.

“You have to believe this guy was a walking IED,” and that any of the Navy SEALs would have wanted to kill bin Laden as far away as possible from the other members of the American team.

Yes, Lindsey, I routinely put on my explosive vest every day when I get home from work.  I’m sure that Bin Laden was wearing one too.  Holder jumped right on that ridiculous bandwagon by agreeing with Graham, so they both looked even more ridiculous than when they started.

But wait, there’s even more.  The narrative gets muddled.

The SEALs’ decision to fatally shoot bin Laden — even though he didn’t have a weapon – wasn’t an accident.  The administration had made clear to the military’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions.  A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive.

So by walking this back, Eric Holder is actually placing the SEAL Team 6 members at risk by alleging that there was a fire fight, and that resistance can occur with or without a weapon, and so on.  No one actually believes that a 54 year old man without a weapon is a threat to the most fit, well-trained warriors on earth.  No one.

They shouldn’t feel the need to work so hard at the justification.  We already engage in targeted assassinations, i.e., the drone strikes that kill high value targets all over Western Pakistan, just like the strike that killed Baitullah Mehsud (and that strike killed family members as well).  Baitullah Mehsud couldn’t surrender to an aircraft, and surely wasn’t pointing a weapon at a U.S. service member when he died.  Yet we killed him anyway because he was the enemy, or at least, one of them.

There is confusion over this issue generally because there is confusion at the highest levels of the administration.  It’s why flag officers who should know better tried to hold snipers accountable for murder because they shot an unarmed Taliban commander in Afghanistan.

And herein lies the rub.  We unleashed SEAL Team 6 to kill Bin Laden, apparently, and I don’t have a problem with that.  It isn’t necessary for me to believe that he was holding a weapon or wearing a bomb or somehow a threat to the team.  He wasn’t.  He was the enemy, and that’s enough for me.

But we hold Marines in the Helmand Province, still under fire, fighting for their lives, to a completely different standard.  After recently lampooning the prison system in Afghanistan (something I have done repeatedly), a Marine father responds this way.

According to my son, a USMC 0311 recently returned from Helmand, the effect on their morale when seeing released Taliban was significant. He recalled capturing two bombers after an IED wounded a squad-mate. A week later they saw the two walking by them, smiling and waving. He said apparently American testimony is inadmissible in Afghan courts. Many of the IEDs they saw were command detonated, so they would hustle to catch the bomber.

The officers and visiting Senators would interact with the Afghans, but the 03s in my son’s company didn’t trust any of them, including the imbedded ANP. The only one they would get to know were the interpreters (“terps”), but they were the primary target of the bombers, so they turned over a lot. The squad leaders walked with the terps, so they turned over a lot too.

SEAL Team 6 is to be congratulated.  But there’s still fighting going on.  The catch-and-release program in Afghanistan is a joke, and prisons do not work in counterinsurgency.  The only thing prisons are doing in Afghanistan is making the American fighting man look like a chump when Taliban whom they have captured walk down the road smiling and waving at them.  It isn’t winning any hearts and minds, and it isn’t going to change.  The system is too corrupt, and we don’t want it to change badly enough.  We would rather see Marines lose their legs.

So if you agree with what SEAL Team 6 did to Bin Laden, and if you agree with the drone program, then sleep well.  But if you have a problem with the Marines in Helmand doing the same thing to Taliban fighters, then you are inconsistent.  Consistency isn’t the Hobgoblin of little minds.  It’s the stuff of life.

I simply won’t let this inconsistency pass.  I will force it upon me [you] [y'all] [us] [them] [the administration] [everyone].  It’s not okay to be irrational.  You can’t have it both ways.  If you wanted to see Bin Laden and Baitullah Mehsud dead but you want the Marines to play by different rules in their particular piece of hell, then you must go to sleep tonight knowing that you’re irrational, and you are irrational deep down where it matters most, on basic issues of morality, violence, warfare, life and death.

UPDATE: From the AP.

Only one of the five people killed in the raid that got Osama bin Laden was armed and fired a shot, a senior defense official said Thursday, acknowledging the new account differs greatly from original administration portrayals of a chaotic, intense and prolonged firefight.

The sole shooter in the al-Qaida leader’s Pakistani compound was quickly killed in the early minutes of the commando operation, details that have become clearer now that the Navy SEAL assault team has been debriefed, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

He said the raid should be described as a precision, floor-by-floor operation to hunt and find the al-Qaida leader and his protectors, rather than as it has been portrayed by a succession of Obama administration briefers since bin Laden’s death was announced Sunday night.

Increasing clarity, just not from the administration.


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