Friday, March 09, 2007

Operation Catch 22 -- get Osama

The consensus around Blogtopia seems to be that Cheney's recent visit with Musharraf was to strongarm him into accepting covert CIA operations inside of Pakistan in order to finally honor Bush's promise to get Osama dead or alive. Funny, it seems like just a couple of weeks ago, our military strategists were saying getting Osama wasn't that important. Oh wait -- that was just a couple of weeks ago.

My friend Michael van der Galien sees this as a good thing.
It’s now 5.5 years ago that Osama Bin Laden attacked America - and the entire free world. He is still safe. He is still alive. His organization is regaining strength, not just in Pakistan but also in Afghanistan. If those facts aren’t a source of inspiration and, yes, encouragement for terrorists worldwide, I don’t know what is. He has to serve as an example: that terrorists, no matter how rich they are, no matter how well they hide, will be hunted down and held responsible for their crimes.
Meanwhile, Capt. Ed predicts great consequences for future military operations in that theater.
Expect a much greater latitude in American action across the Afghan/Pakistani border from this point forward -- a new policy that will cripple the Taliban's expected spring offensive, and perhaps force Osama and Ayman al-Zawahiri to flee their safety zone.
I'm afraid I have to take issue with both. I'd agree with Michael that Osama's continuing at-large status is inspirational to AQ and other terrorist organizations but as Gen. Schoomaker pointed out, we've been down this road before. Taking down Saddam was supposed to change everything and it changed nothing - at least not for the better. Neither did taking out Saddam's sons or Zarqawi accomplish anything. Thus, I see no reason to think that taking out Osama at this point would discourage the AQ. If anything I believe runs the risk of making a martyr out of him that would serve as inspiration to terrorists for generations to come.

And as far this signaling a greater latitude in US cross border operations, I'd have to point out that there's a great deal of difference between covert CIA teams and overt operations by US troops. Granted the CIA mission is not all that covert, what with all the leaking going on about the operations, but still it's a far cry from air strikes or armed troops marching across the border.

Covert teams could operate unnoticed, but overt operations would most certainly set off the tinder keg that is waiting to explode in Pakistan and surely destablize Musharraf's already tentative hold on his government. Are we really prepared to babysit yet another civil war in yet another country simply to bring in a symbolic boogeyman for no other reason than to save the administration's politcal skin? I know I'm not.

In the end, we're in a hell of a mess. Bush's botched handling of the so-called war on terror has left us with no good options. At every turn, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. It seems to me our best solution, late though it may seem, is to immediately impeach this White House and start fresh with a new Commander in Chief. At the very least such an unexpected move might confuse our enemies and buy us some time to think our way out of this miserable morass.

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