Home / Robert Farley / On the Value of Getting bin Laden

On the Value of Getting bin Laden


I don’t have too much to add to Greg Sargent’s take on the “Jimmy Carter would have given the order” Romney claim, but just to summarize:

1. The mission that killed bin Laden was risky in operational terms, in international political terms, and probably in domestic political terms. It’s not quite right to say that the failure of Eagle Claw cost Carter the 1980 election, but it surely didn’t help. Moreover, Obama could opted for the less risky, more destructive, less certain bombing attack.
2. There is no guarantee whatsoever that Republicans would have given Obama a pass on the failure of the mission to net bin Laden, or if it had resulted in substantial U.S. casualties. 2011 ain’t 1980; indeed, I’d have been extremely surprised if the failure of a bin Laden mission didn’t become central to alterna-Romney’s national security pitch.
3. Romney accepted this risk in 2007 when he implied that getting bin Laden wasn’t a priority. Romney may have even been right (although killing or capturing bin Laden was clearly worth some risk), but in saying so he clearly put himself in foreseeable political jeopardy. As it turned out, the mission could be accomplished at substantially less cost than Romney suggested, which is also a problem.
4. This is what it looks like when Democrats go for the jugular. It’s hardly barbaric for the campaign to trumpet the President’s role in killing a man suspected of the mass murder of Americans.

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