Election 2012

Does Killing Bin Laden = Successful Foreign Policy?


Hat tip: Real Clear Politics.

Over at the Washington Examiner, the editors note that killing Osama bin Laden does not a foreign policy make:

Getting bin Laden shouldn't have been the focus of America's anti-terror policy anyway. America's eye has been off the ball while far more important events transpired in the Arab world. The Arab Spring is being hijacked by increasingly radical and anti-American actors. The Arab world continues to hate America as much as it ever did, despite Obama's outreach efforts, which have at times approached the level of groveling. Unlike bin Laden, al Qaeda is very much still alive. It is not on its heels, on the run, or on the ropes, as developments in Afghanistan and elsewhere prove. Yes, bin Laden is dead, but so is Ambassador Chris Stevens, killed at the hands of bin Laden's followers.

The paper, which leans conservative and Republican, supports Mitt Romney's comments about the role of killing one man as the be-all and end-all of foreign policy:

"I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person—Osama bin Laden—because after we get him, there's going to be another and another," Mitt Romney said in 2007.

More here.

As it happens, I don't think anyone is pretending that Democratic foreign policy revolved solely around capturing or killing bin Laden (or that Republicans wouldn't have been spiking the football had George W. Bush popped OBL on his watch).

Tough-truth time: As we slide into tonight's final presidential debate, which is explicitly about foreign policy and will be live-tweeted right here at Reason.com, the real problem is that neither Obama nor Romney has much of value and substance to say about America's role in the world. Obama has been godawful (read: ineffective and extra-constitutional) on the matter and Romney is a total cipher (except for his heavy tilt toward Bush admin retreads).

I'll be interested in seeing whether and how either of these guys engages the recent death of George McGovern, the failed 1972 presidential candidate whose anti-war slogan "Come Home, America," was as eloquent as it was unpopular.