Foreign Policy

Lessons for Al Qaeda, and For Us

What Bin Laden's death means for the War on Terror


Here's what the world learned in the decade between the 9/11 attacks and the killing of their mastermind: Americans are good at war and not very good at remaking other countries in our image. It's an invaluable revelation that has yet to be incorporated into our approach to foreign policy and national security.

Osama bin Laden's error was interpreting restraint, or lack of interest, as weakness. He saw the U.S. pull out of Lebanon after terrorists blew up a Marine barracks, and he saw the U.S. pull out of Somalia after losing a bloody firefight. So he concluded, as he put it, that "the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in retreat."

There is no telling what thoughts ran through his mind as he found himself looking into the gun barrels of U.S. Navy SEALs. But "paper tiger" was probably not one of them.

His was a catastrophic miscalculation. As long as Al Qaeda was only a minor threat to U.S. targets abroad, obliterating it was just not worth the trouble. Bin Laden was able to set up shop in Afghanistan with the blessing of the Taliban and go about his bloody business without much worry.

After the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Bill Clinton tried a missile strike on a training camp in Afghanistan, but bin Laden escaped and Clinton didn't try again. After al-Qaeda was implicated in the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, George W. Bush elected not to retaliate. Bin Laden tugged on Superman's cape and got away with it.

From that experience, he figured he could hit the United States with impunity—that his plots would draw an ineffectual response, if any. But when bin Laden carried out the worst terrorist attacks in American history, he forfeited his sanctuary. The paper tiger turned out to be a ferocious predator with one quarry on its mind.

In 2001, there was no one-time missile attack on his forces. There was an intensive campaign of aerial bombing that culminated in a ground invasion of Afghanistan. Not only had he assured a response, he had opened the gates of Hell. The U.S. and its allies quickly toppled the Taliban regime, smashed Al Qaeda and sent bin Laden into hiding.

There he remained for every restless night since, knowing that the U.S. government would not stop until it found him. On Sunday, those American fighting men he had dismissed gave him the ultimate dismissal.

Responding to attacks or perceived threats with irresistible force is America's strength—as the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and bin Laden learned. Our weakness is what comes after: reconstructing defeated countries as stable, democratic states.

It's a much tougher undertaking, requiring far more money, knowledge, and patience than Americans can muster. We rouse ourselves to ambitious tasks when adversaries challenge us. But as soon as we've taken one down, we lose interest.

American presidents often insist on staying in countries we invade, but they do so in the knowledge that the public's patience and appetite for sacrifice are very limited. So we do our nation-building on the cheap, with an eye on the exit.

That's how we have operated in Afghanistan—which President Bush shortchanged so he could focus on Iraq, and from which President Obama has promised to begin drawing down our forces in July.

He may not have much choice. A Washington Post-ABC News poll in March found that 64 percent of Americans think the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, and 73 percent favor withdrawal this summer.

And why wouldn't they want out? We have spent 10 years there without showing much progress toward a healthy Afghanistan. The indispensable mission—defeating those who attacked us—was largely accomplished by the end of 2001, and it was completed on May 2, 2011.

Chances are slim that we can succeed in transforming a country so alien from our own. When we leave, it may fall back into chaos or even Taliban rule. But that doesn't mean it would pose a threat to us.

The success we had in avenging the 9/11 attacks provides an unforgettable lesson for whoever emerges on top in Afghanistan after we're gone: If you make war on the United States, your destruction will follow. That, we know how to do.


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  1. Our foreign affairs have not been consistent. We have the bomb them because of ‘A’ and don’t interfere with others because of ‘A’.

    The only lesson Osama could conclude is statecraft’s catalyst is a political reasoning mystery

    1. Another key take away could be that it is a bad idea to poke an unpredictable bear too many times.

        1. +1 Internets

        2. I don’t know why they make fun of you Rather.

          1. “We have the bomb them.”

          2. Here’s where >sarcasm< >/sarcasm< tags would come in handy.

            1. I wasn’t being sarcastic. I thought her response was pretty clever.

  2. The real problem is that we are unwilling to get our hands dirty. We hesitate to kill the people who need killing and try to cut deals instead.

    1. The problem is that we don’t have any medium setting. We either roll over and let our enemies run over us or we go to 11. There is no five. It is 11 or 0.

      1. dont know about that. US forces are low-key in yemen & the horn of africa

        1. True. But our overall response to 9-11 has been to release the hounds of hell. This after letting Hezbolla kill 300+ Marines in Lebanon and Al Qada conduct a ten year terror campaign against Americans in the 1990s. You can kind of understand why Bin Ladin thought that 9-11 wouldn’t illicit the response it did.

          1. hezbollah has yet to pay for that

            1. No they haven’t. And that sucks.

          2. It’s also possible that the existence of ‘lower settings’ are responsible. Once the doctrine of proportional response took hold, it basically became safe for weak powers to attack great powers because the fear of annihilation was removed. So now they know killing 3,000 and bringing down the twin towers will bring an overwhelming response, but maybe knocking an airliner out of the sky or blowing up a train is still relatively safe.

      2. There is no five. It is 11 or 0.

        We’re trying to kinda sorta fight a war kinetic military action in Libya now. I think its idiotic. With the armed forces, you either go big or stay home.

        1. As opposed to the entropic actions in Iraqistan?

    2. “That’s just the problem around hear, no one wants to get their hands dirty! Now somebody get me a hacksaw!”

  3. Americans are a rough lot and generally not to be screwed with. I don’t understand why the rest of the world has such a hard time understanding that. But they do and they constantly convince themselves that the US is a paper tiger.

    Lots of whining and hand wringing over this in Europe. A French Magazine called La Point gets it about right.

    ” Americans retrieved old notions of vengeful and speedy justice that they had never completely lost since the conquest of the West. “We got him,” proclaimed banners, in response to Barack Obama’s own words announcing that U.S. commandos had killed Osama bin Laden. “Justice has been done,” the president said simply.

    * * *

    Just as the Japanese had underestimated the terrifying consequences that their treacherous attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 would have for them four years later, bin Laden may have underestimated the anger and the desire for revenge that he would arouse by striking the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.”

    The German reaction is generally the most ridiculous. Including this suggestion that Richard Gladstone, fresh off of his apology for slandering Israel should lead the investigation into the killing of Bin Ladin. Yes, this is made by a German and without irony.

    “The leader of such a commission would need to be an experienced and impartial jurist. For example, Richard Goldstone, the former Chief Justice of South Africa, who investigated Israel’s latest operation in Gaza.”…..epage=true

    1. The rest of the world doesn’t understand that they shouldn’t “screw” with us? I disagree. We’re fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and, if you count drone attacks as acts of war (um, yeah), then we are at war in Yemen too. And that’s just the ones a newspaper reader is aware of. God knows what else we’re doing and where.

      I think the rest of the world, whose defense expenditures match our “defense” expenditures knows damn well not to screw with us. The problem is that we’re like a bully in the schoolyard who gets his eye poked by a little girl, and to show his displeasure runs around the schoolyard for several years screaming and swinging an ax.

      1. So murdering three thousand people live on world wide television was just getting our eye poked? Yeah, that makes sense.

        The problem is that the rest of the world think people like you are typical of the way Americans think. Fortunately, you are not typical. And most Americans consider the murder of 3000 Americans on US soil to be kind of a big deal. Thank God.

        1. Well, if you consider the entire U.S. population to be the make up of the body, then yeah 3,000 is about .001% which might be about the mass or volume taken up by an eyeball.
          I woulda gone with kicked in the left nut though. Great analogy.

          1. No it really isn’t a great analogy because body parts grow back, people do not. Look at it this way, if KKK were going around and murdering 1000 black people randomly every year, you could argue that that was no big deal since 1000 is a really small percentage of black people in the country. But that would be complete bunk. It would be a very big deal and warrant unleashing the hounds of hell against those who were behind it.

              Do not take advice on this subject from internet comment boards.

              1. Damn. I just cut off my finger before you posted thi.

            2. But they didn’t kill 1000’s at a time. Just a few here and there and white people could have cared less.

            3. “No it really isn’t a great analogy because body parts grow back, people do not.”
              You have got to be the dumbest fuck on here….and that is not easy!

              1. Maybe you should regenerate a brain.

          2. Interesting theory – so what number of people have to be murdered for it to be a big deal? Or is it always just a percent of the population, so what might be a big deal here would be just fine in China? And is it a single point exceedance for it to be a big deal, so 3,000 is fine but 3,001 somehow is not?

            1. 3001 would be the proper threshold.
              Also, sarcasm is hard to convey through the internets, My first post was 99.999% sarcastic.

              1. My apologies then. And yes body parts heal, they don’t regenerate.

                1. Sorry – missed the sarcasm.

                2. Although the university of pittsburgh, along with some other universities, are doing some incredible work with growing artificial body parts, and unlocking the genes that cause us to heal quickly rather than regenerate. It’s pretty awesome from what I’ve read.

                  They’re also doing some incredible stuff with helping address blindness

            2. George Bush caused more Americans to die than Osama did.

              1. If you’re talking about the soldiers, sailors, and airmen in our armed services,they at least are one up on the folks murdered at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Our armed forces are all in harm’s way as their free and voluntary choice.

                1. What ever, they are dead thanks to Bush. And many thousands more are maimed. Bush started two needless wars and Obama has started one….so far.

                  1. and you call yourself a Realist?
                    you sound more like a preteen girl…

        2. I think if it had been 3000 deaths over the course of 10 years, our response would still be pretty lame. 9/11 was so cinematic. It was hard to ignore.

          Now a couple of death is South Afica, a couple in indonesia, nah… no one will care.

  4. I will admit that I, like many I suspect, got caught up in the blind nationalism immediately following the attacks. As the years go by I find myself looking at those that blindly wrap themselves in the flag with more and more skepticism.

    I fear we have sacrificed too much in our war against an abstract noun.

    1. This is about where I’m at. I had to do a daily journal in one of my classes that the professor sent back to us 8 years later, and one of my enteries was on Sept 11/Sept 12. Reading what i wrote and the emotion back then was almost shocking for me to read 8 years later.

    2. That is one way to look at it. Another way would be to say that as the shock of the event has worn off and time has passed you have forgotten the important things the event brought to light.

      1. Ot, to continue the analogy made above, the pain at the moment of the wound as compared to the memory of the pain at a later date.

  5. Osama bin Laden dead: Blackout during raid on bin Laden compound
    The head of the CIA admitted yesterday that there was no live video footage of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound as further doubts emerged about the US version of events.

    Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, revealed there was a 25 minute blackout during which the live feed from cameras mounted on the helmets of the US special forces was cut off.

    A photograph released by the White House appeared to show the President and his aides in the situation room watching the action as it unfolded. In fact they had little knowledge of what was happening in the compound.

    In an interview with PBS, Mr Panetta said: “Once those teams went into the compound I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we really didn’t know just exactly what was going on. And there were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information.

    “We had some observation of the approach there, but we did not have direct flow of information as to the actual conduct of the operation itself as they were going through the compound.”

    Mr Panetta also told the network that the US Navy Seals made the final decision to kill bin Laden rather than the president. …

    1. Why is Panetta so far off the reservation on this?

      1. I still accept the argument that just because they got the info by “enhanced’ methods doesn’t prove they were necessary, but the left can’t totally distance themselves from this:

        If you’re determined to believe waterboarding had nothing to do with tracking down Bin Laden, don’t listen to Leon Panetta

        1. I see, Panetta is part of Team Clinton, hence the constant undermining of Obama on this.

          Though elected to a ninth term, he left the House in 1993 after President Bill Clinton selected him to be Director of the United States Office of Management and Budget. He is credited with developing the budget package that would eventually result in the balanced budget of 1998. On July 17, 1994, he was appointed White House Chief of Staff by Clinton, a position he held until January 20, 1997.

          1. ….to take the fall if the mission had failed. Obama himself claims glory for the successful kill.

    2. more disinformation

    3. Then what the fuck were they watching in that picture? Were they playing Donkey Kong on the proxima or something?

      1. Were they playing Donkey Kong on the proxima or something?

        Why, yes, yes they were.

        1. I saw that yesterday. The one with Obama with the playstation controller is classic.

      2. They were watching Panetta fiddle around with the rabbit ears.

        1. Damn tuner’s fucked up, maybe we should try UHF.

    4. I wonder about the technial specifics of such a link in any event. While on the chopper, with the chopper’s commo equipment relaying the feed, you could probably see what was on the “helmet cam”. But once they left the close proximity of the bird, and especially once they were within the walls of the compound, I am not sure that any “soldier mounted” system could maintain much of a link.

      Those things are planned, I know. But as far as I know such systems are still planed for in the future.

      1. You are probably right. But it is highly likely that there is some FMV of the compound. Probably from days earlier, to and through the time of the raid.

    5. “Mr Panetta also told the network that the US Navy Seals made the final decision to kill bin Laden rather than the president. …”

      Thank God for that. Can you imagine those SEALs killing our president?

      It would be chaos I tells ya’! Chaos!

      1. ^^This^^

      2. The Grammar Nannies!

    6. Mr Panetta also told the network that the US Navy Seals made the final decision to kill bin Laden rather than the president. …

      What a fucking pussy our President is, trying to backpedal and cover his ass as soon as the International Communitay [spit] starts whining and crying about this.

      1. What a pitiful responses from these administration weasels. Above all, protect the Fearless Leader.

    7. What was the name of Nixon’s secretary – Mary Rose Woods or something? Twenty minute gap in the Watergate recording…
      Man, I can imagine the conspiracy theories now – the Seals have OBL cornered:
      OBL: Pleeeease let me live – I just married another 14 year old, and I LOVE young poontang.
      OK, I confess that I had nothing to do with the World Trade Center bombing – I was just the patsy and was suppose to disappear – I tried to do that! Bush, Cheney, and the Jews had the place wired, and it was a remote controlled plane that flew into the building. I made all my videos in Pasadena! It was all a big scam to help the Fox network launch a new show, “24 hours.” The network was going down – everybody said the show was hokey and contrived and would not survive the first 6 episodes, never the less a full season! I had to do it!!!!
      Please, I’ve told you everything I know…Please, my bother in laws’ 13 year has his bar mitzva tomorrow – O, you didn’t know I was Jewish? Ironic, no?
      Seals: BLAM!

      1. also, I left out the part about the gay sex between OBL and those navy guys. because we can’t let it out that there are gay guys in the navy…

  6. 7 Minutes Vs. 16 Hours: How The Media Reports Delay
    …On the other hand, after Obama was told (most likely for the fifteenth time) that the CIA was really, really, really quite confident that Osama bin Ladin was at that compound in Abbottabad, he decided he needed to sleep on it.

    Sixteen hours later (hours during which Osama might have fled– bear in mind, his courier’s name had just been outed by WikiLeaks), he made up his mind….

    1. u mean bin laden wasnt killed after all?

      1. My favorite internet conspiracy theory is that we captured him and told the world that he was dead. Now he is trapped in US custody with no hope of release or rescue because the whole world things he is dead. He is Schrodinger’s terrorist, both alive and dead as long as no one opens the box.

        1. At least reword your cut and paste from Instapundit, or give him a hat tip.

          1. I said it was an internet conspiracy theory. It is not like I claimed to have made it up. And instapundit got it off the internet.

            1. Plagarism as fine as long as you say its from the internet.

              1. Yes, as long as the place you got it from was plagiarizing it from somewhere else. By calling it an “internet conspiracy” I was admitting that it wasn’t my idea and is in multiple places on the internet, which indeed it is.

                1. Schrodinger’s cat was my idea, except it was called Richard Gere’s gerbil, and it was…uh, in or out of certain…places.

        2. Now that is an awesome analogy.

          1. metaphor, or simile or whatever the fuck.

  7. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wrapping oneself in Old Glory generally, only for the wrong reasons–statism, adventurism and advocacy of perpetual warfare, usurpation of inalienable liberty for the sake of some phantom of security, and the proposition of violently and irreversibly metamorphosing the very structure of our republic.

    I’m a fervent patriot, and I’ll die before I renounce my allegiance and love of the United States, but this is what many people that mistake government for society always confuse – a love for one’s culture and country must somehow entail an uncritical support of one’s government, or the arbitrary machinations of fewer than 600 Congressman and a dipshit in a conspicuously white building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

    I’d love to invade and topple the rulers of every single country in the world, in principle, as much as the next guy – after all, there are no free civilizations remaining on Earth. But reality is reality – we are unlikely to achieve anything. And, to be frank, I’m starting to think that we really shouldn’t bother. We’re damned if we do, and we’re damned if we don’t, especially in the minds of the cock-gobbling faggots of Europe. Let’s leave and force the Eurofaggots to take responsibility for their own defense, for example, and let’s abolish our policy of adventurism and involvement.

    We are the people of by far the most economically, culturally, and militarily powerful country in the history of the world. Let’s concentrate all of that on ourselves, and let the rest of the world handle its own shit.

    Osama and his coreligionists could have been handled with Letters of Marque and Reprisal. Making war on Iraq, for example, was unnecessary, and now that we’ve installed a highly authoritarian government there, too, I’m sure we’re all very happy with our federal servants and ourselves.

    1. “Osama and his coreligionists could have been handled with Letters of Marque and Reprisal.”

      You are delusional. Bin Ladin had the support and protection of the government of Afghanistan. As long he had that, no letter of Marque would have gotten him. Letters of Marque were effective against pirates. But they were not effective against the Barbary pirates because there they owned the government. The Barbary Pirates were not effectively dealt with until the Barbary governments were dealt with. The same is true in Afghanistan. Only through military action ending the Taliban rule and thus state support of Bin Ladin, could Bin Ladin have been found.

      And even that was still not enough. It took years of pressure and hunting to get him. Imagine a counter history where the US left Afghanistan in say 2005. The Taliban would have taken back over and Bin Ladin would have left his compound and returned to Afghanistan as a hero. What would we have done about it? Gone back? I can just see the hang wringing now. “Well the Taliban will be sanctioned and never allowed into the international community” or “there is no real proof that Bin Ladin is being protected by the Taliban” or “there is no proof Bin Ladin is guilty and the Taliban have no obligation to extradite him without a treaty” and so forth.

      1. Good point, John. Osama was being sheltered by another nation’s government, so there was no way we could simply locate him through intelligence and then send a strike force to execute him. Anyone who thinks that would have the tiniest chance of working is insane.

        That said…

        Bin Ladin had the support and protection of the government of Afghanistan.

        If ever a statement cried out for the qualifier “such as it was”….

      2. John, you may be correct concerning the specifics of Letters of Marque and the Barbary Pirates, but as a whole I think Confederal_Republic has it just about right. The US should transform its military into a purely defensive force, and withdraw from all foreign bases (especially those in Europe). If we’re attacked reprisal should be swift and severe (as we did at the beginning in Afghanistan), but once that’s done we go home. No “nation-building”; let them clean up the aftermath themselves. No foreign adventurism; it’s not our problem if there’s a civil war in Libya or unrest in Yemen. No need for us to “defend” Europe against a non-existent threat from Russia or Japan from China (or whoever it is that we’re protecting them from). NATO began as a military alliance but now is an organization in search of a purpose; withdraw from it. If we mind our own business there would be no need for the US to spend as much on “defense” as the next 15 largest militaries COMBINED. That’s beyond absurd; it’s truly obscene.

      3. The same is true in Afghanistan. Only through military action ending the Taliban rule and thus state support of Bin Ladin, could Bin Ladin have been found.

        I used to buy this argument, but it has become less convincing over time. In fact the action that we used to kill him renders this point moot in many ways.

        We went into a sovereign country, without that country’s permission or knowledge, and assassinated OBL. There is no reason to believe that we could not have done that at some point after 9/11.

        In fact, I would argue that government support would have made OBL an easier target to find. Maybe not in the first year after 9/11, but time would have made him easier to get as he grew more complacent. It probably would have taken less than 10 years.

  8. Gaza has six fortified villas just like bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound
    DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
    May 3, 2011, 5:37 PM (GMT+02:00)
    >Like Iran and its surrogates, the late Osama bin Laden’s organization has established networks around Israel’s borders in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egyptian Sinai.
    >In the Gaza Strip, harbored by Hamas, al Qaeda operatives have built six villas on the model of Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. All the same, Mahmoud Abbas will join Hamas Wednesday in signing a Palestinian unity accord that opens the West Bank door not only to Hamas terror but to its al Qaeda partners enjoying sanctuary in Gaza.

    1. Would you rather live in Gaza or in Steve Smith’s nutsack?

      1. I have a friend who is a reporter in Gaza. She actually likes it. Granted my friend is nuts. But I am still taking her word over the prospect of being raped by Steve Smith.

      2. We all live in the shadow of STEVE SMITH’S nutsack.

        1. That was my favorite Beatles song.

          1. That made me laugh way more than my comment did.

          2. In the woods where I was born
            Lived a gentle, kind man-ape
            And he told us of his life
            Filled with kidnapping and rape

    2. Is this like the reassuring sameness of hotel rooms?

    1. That is a problem for Obama. He is such a neophyte he had no cronies to appoint to his administration. Who was he going to appoint Axelrod and Emmanuel? Bill Ayers? So he was stuck with a bunch of Clinton moles of which Panetta appears to be the most obvious.

      1. This will also be a problem for any libertarian-leaning Republican that might, through bizarre fortune, be elected.

      2. ….Hillary herself is the most obvious.

  9. After al-Qaeda was implicated in the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, George W. Bush elected not to retaliate.

    That might be because George W. Bush was not the president at the time of the Cole bombing.

    1. Good catch.

      1. Mind you, Bush became president soon enough afterwards that he certainly could have ordered something. Clinton may have the excuse that he was not around long enough for a proper plan to be conceived.

  10. So little reporting on the fact that the FBI did not have evidence to charge UbL with what occurred on 11 Sep. 2001. The governments city, state and federal deliberately destroyed as much evidence as quickly as possible after the event. A critical thinker might ask why! Killing bin Laden was just finishing the job, he could likely shed some light on what really happened on 9/11….. If he was captured!

    1. Apparently, I’m not a critical thinker. But, is he the only one that could shed light on “what really happened”? Are SEAL teams taking out others inside the US that can shed light on “what really happened”. Or is that what Radley is documenting with the “botched” police raids? We can’t let the dogs bark about “what really happened”.

      Maybe I am a critical thinker.

      1. Are you saying I think this raid was to silence a witness? If this raid occurred as reported, I say it was a timed political action to distract the distractable from the shit storm the feds of all kinds have prepared for us. A wag the dog situation. I guess my main point is 9/11 was never investigated with any diligence. As I stated it did appear that the powers that be used much of their capital to destroy the possibility of getting to the truth.

        1. So what do you think the truth is?

  11. It’s not just wacky European leftists who are using this as an opportunity for ‘whining and hand-wringing.’ Assasinations are potentially thorny moral dilemmas for many people.

    The Christian tradition, to which I try to adhere, famously and unnaturally commands that we love our enemies. It categorically forbids revenge…The Christian tradition, to which I try to adhere, famously and unnaturally commands that we love our enemies. It categorically forbids revenge.

    The implication of the traditional Christian view of these matters, it seems to me, is that we may rightly celebrate the fact that Americans have stopped bin Laden from being able to do further harm, have brought him to justice, and have struck a great blow (even if partly symbolic) against his evil cause. What those of us who accept the tradition may not do, however, is celebrate his death as such. That is, we should not be happier that he is dead than we would be if he had been captured and committed for punishment.…

    1. The Christian tradition also says we are all sinners and none of us live up to the ideal of Christ. If the Europeans expected us to forgive Bin Ladin, isn’t it within their power to forgive us for whacking him?

      1. I dunno, maybe they hate the sin and not the sinner? Are they hating on Americans or what we did?

        1. They are hating on Americans. They don’t seem to be too forgiving as they are with our help whacking Gadafi’s family. Or if you want to really play dirty pool, they were not too forgiving when they were sticking people in ovens a generation ago. Or go ask Greenpeace and their blown up boat how forgiving the Europeans are.

          1. John, you need to follow the link that MNG furnished and read the article before you go all “They are hating on Americans”.

            Or is Ramesh Ponnuru “hating on Americans”?

            And for what it’s worth, from what i’m seeing in the international media reactions to this action are for the most part positive.

            OBL had few friends, even in the Arab world.

        2. Maybe they hate us for our tractor pulls.

          1. Hell, I hate us for a tractor pulls. So maybe you are right.

  12. Before converting an Emperor, making that not politically useful, the Christian tradition was basically pacifist. Too bad that would be incompatible w/ collecting taxes thru armed agents of the State.

  13. The spam filter won’t let me post anything to the morning links

  14. Bin Laden’s goal was to bankrupt the US. In his statements, even right after 9/11, he bragged about what a shock it was to the economy and how the US will now have to waste money trying to fight a guerilla war that it can’t win. Looks like he succeeded. The economy is in shambles and instead of investing it things like green energy, education, infrastructure, R&D, we’ve spent trillions of dollars on this war and this bloated defense budget. Meanwhile, in the last 10 years, who has benefitted? China. Even to the final raid as Pakistan will sell the parts of the US steal helicopter to the PLA. Reality is a downer, isn’t it, folks? Bin Laden won.

    1. Holy crap, you can convert anything to the YELLOW MENACE can’t you?

    2. …and instead of investing it things like green energy, education, infrastructure, R&D, we’ve spent trillions of dollars on this war and this bloated defense budget.

      So, instead of pissing the money down a blue state rathole we pissed it down a red state rathole. On the upside, we at least got a dead enemy to show for our troubles.

      1. and less remains that still have not been identified…

  15. Let’s see, we should listen to the French, who made a national hobby out of surrendering to mass murderers? The Germans who as Bonhoefer said, experienced as gash in time into which their whole culture fell, who are now so hesitant to do anything that they are standing by while turks and other immigrants as well as pensioners destroy their economy? How about the scandinavian countries who lecture others about tolerance and yet erect the strictest laws imaginable to prevent others from moving there?

    Yes, Europe is a suit to draw to.

    America has every right to defend itself. The argument that we have no middle gear is a good one. We need to be able to develop that middle gear. I thought that when Carter authorized the Delta Force, that they were supposed to be that “middle gear” between angry speeches at the UN and the US Marines unleashing hell on some evil doers.

    1. It makes me laugh when someone from US blames other countries, you are trying to be world policeman, although noone is really interested. And i suggest you to be careful with judging other countries, you stole country from indians, commited genocide on them exactly as germans did, just other way and in different numbers.
      Then you keep talking about US Constitution, yet your Civil War and slavery ignoref this piece of paper.
      You keep whining about Iran, yet i cant recall any other nation using A-bomb against civilian cities.
      Basically, most things you dont like in todays world you did as well in the past or are even doing now.

      1. We did not steal land from anyone. In the Pre-horse era, there were little more than 50,000 native americans alive in the area between the Mississippi and the Rockies. In the Post-horse era, maybe twice that.

        As many treaties were violated by the Native Americans as by the Whites. The Native Americans, thanks largely to Europeans (who sold them repeating firearms in exchange for fur) were often capable of outshooting our Army due to the Army’s use of single shot fire arms.

        Genocidal acts were committed, but if you want to talk Genocide, talk about the Ojibwa/Chippowa attacks on the Sioux.

        Slavery was a normal state of affairs in the great plains as was human sacrifice and capital punishment methods that would gag a Tudor.

        1. slavery is still a normal state of affairs in the world…

      2. You talking to me? Hell, I wasn’t even alive when all that shit happened.

    2. No, the existence of a “middle gear” is the real problem. We have all sorts of “middle gears”, which is what permits us to involve ourselves in the internal affairs of Libya (and maybe others we don’t know about), and to remain in Afghanistan and Iraq long after the job we (allegedly) started out to do has been done. That “middle gear” is the politicians’ best friend. What we need is to either stay out of a conflict or, if we’re in it, pursue it all-out to the end without hesitation or apology. The “middle way” is the road to perdition.

  16. Should be interesting to see how that all turns out in the end.

  17. This whole thing was a joke. I’m tired of Team America: World Police. I’m tired of aggressive foreign policy. I’m tired of people like Lindsey Graham and many others who take away rights because we’re “in a war,” and then want to start more wars, creating a never ending military state. I’m tired of patriotism most of all, the idea that we can do whatever we want because we’re better than them. No matter who was against torture in theory, when we use the information to catch Osama bin Laden, all we can hear is cries of “USA! USA!” Never mind the shit the US has constantly been doing in the middle east since the Cold War which led to it’s instability. But all sins are forgiven if the US gets the bad guy at the end of the day.

    The sad ting is, there is no better country really to go to. England’s trying to turn into a police state, Europe and Scandinavia are gradually turning more collectivist, and China and Russia are still pretty authoritarian, though they’re getting better. There’s supposedly no better place to be a liberty-loving capitalist than the good ol’ US of A, but with stuff like the PATRIOT Act still in effect and Obama having exactly the same foreign policy as Bush, I’m not so sure. I wish there were no borders, but I’m not so optimistic as to think the US would ever give up it’s sovereignty. It just pains me to say patriotism and nationalism are the last acceptable forms of collectivism in the US. Something bad happens and we turn into a hive-mind war machine, destroying everything in our path. The love of liberty is always superseded by love of country. And unless seasteading suddenly becomes legal, I’m stuck here. There is no “love it or leave it.” There’s nowhere in the world left to go.

    1. there is no place to go, you are right.
      The US has not been contributing to instability. People create their own and everyone else reacts to it. “Instability” is the human norm, escapable only by liberal democracy (which is waning, it is amazing it has lasted this long, and if it goes it will be liberals’s fault for pushing it to its logical extreme) and tyranny (which will never wane because it commands people’s loyalty, the more liberal a state becomes and the more people can do what they like, the more they can’t stand it).

  18. the lesson for the GOP should be this: liberals are a ruthless bunch willing to life like Stalin did to win. Suddenly the NYTimes has an article on the front page that patriotism is good, patriotism to the US!. Suddenly, we hear no more about “root causes.” Suddenly, killing an unarmed person who is Muslim to boot is good. Did all the mainstream media get together in a smoky room like the old time politicos? Or is it like osmosis, they have no need to communicate at all. Everyone understands what he must do, like an ant colony. This sudden 180 degree turn should alert all non lefties to the utter unscrupulousness of liberals and the media.

    1. After Obama, Hillary and the gang have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are as big on warmongering as Bush was and McCain would have been, Obama’s media supporters have lost their collective minds….a near-complete blank-out.

  19. Is Chapman saying it’s a bad thing that we don’t do more nation building?

  20. Great article. Thanks, Steve.

  21. Great article. Thanks, Steve.

  22. All the tough guys hidding under the bed in their mother’s basement, pontificating on war and killing…just fucking amazing!

  23. “Responding to attacks or perceived threats with irresistible force is America’s strength?as the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and bin Laden learned. Our weakness is what comes after: reconstructing defeated countries as stable, democratic states.

    It’s a much tougher undertaking, requiring far more money, knowledge, and patience than Americans can muster. We rouse ourselves to ambitious tasks when adversaries challenge us. But as soon as we’ve taken one down, we lose interest.”


    “Chances are slim that we can succeed in transforming a country so alien from our own.”

    Was Japan less alien? A God-Emporer, people willingly participating in suicide attacks, etc, etc, etc. Yet it has a western-style democracy today. I am not saying it would have been a good idea. But I don’t see that we even tried that in Iraq, where it seems like it might have been possible. The oil was there to pay for it. In 50 years it might have been as westernized as Japan is now.


    Again, not arguing for it, just asking. In other words, it’s not that we *can’t* do it, maybe we just *aren’t* doing it.

    Maybe they didn’t want to touch the oil because of the “no wars for oil” meme or whatever. Maybe the insurgency here would have been too hard to suppress when we hadn’t first nuked a couple of major cities and psychologically cowed them. Maybe the fact that there were hostile neighbors here (as opposed to Japan’s grateful neighbors) would have just been a security nightmare. Maybe it only works when you have a country that had been telling itself it was going to dominate the world and then got shown in very dramatic terms that everything they had believed was a lie.

    Maybe the whole problem now is a divided country–if people here were as sure about these wars as they were about WWII then there might have been the stomach for the long haul to “win the peace”, or whatever you call it when you transform the losers into countries with stronger economies than your own.

  24. I think we’re spread too thin right now to even consider it. On top of that the american people will not be fond of another war.

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