I have been away the last few days, but returned in time to hear of this much celebrated event. Several journalists and reporters have called this morning to ask my opinion. They seem disappointed that I am not more enthusiastic and excited over the demise of this great enemy of the US and the West.
I am glad he is dead. The deciion to kill him rather than bring him back for trial or confinement was the right decision. Imagine how difficult the legal and political situation would be if you had him in captivity. Now they had better be able to prove that he really is dead.
I am surprised at the level of press and public hysteria. It was a well run raiding operation based on what had to be good human intelligence operations and prolonged ground surveillance of the target area. USSOCOM and JSOC worked well together and the integration of their effort with CIA is impressive stuff. There have been more difficult raids than this one but this was the "big kahuna" in terms of political impact.
Will this kill off the Islamic zealot groups that keep trying to mount operations against Western and especially American targets? I think not, but what it will do is contribute to the long term process of attrition that will eventually bring the current cycle of violent Islamic revivalism to a new "place," a "place in which emphasis is likely to be placed on evolutionary change in Islam as a faith system and way of life.
Any notion that some portion of Pakistan's military and security institutions did not know of UBL's long term presence in the suburbs of Islamabad is just silly. Abbotabad is the home of Pakistan's West Point. Many retired officers live in the town. We are to believe that the Pakistan equivalent of the FBI did not take an interest in this big compound with no telecommunications connectivity? We are supposed to believe that? I have too much respect for the Pakistanis to believe that. They knew. This is part of the phenomenon of "distancing" from the US that we have discussed so thoroughly here at SST. If we think the Pakistanis are "allies," then we are fools.
President Obama took a long time deciding to launch this operation. What will he do now? With Petraeus and Rodriguez leaving Kabul and the July date for the beginning of withdrawal approaching this is a good time to decide to revert to a CT strategy and to accelerate the withdrawal of conventional forces from both Iraq and Afghanistan. This operation was not the fruit of COIN. COIN in Afghanistan "buys" us nothing but a temporary presence in a lot of dusty neighborhoods.
The American people want an end to COIN campaigns that bleed us and empty out our pockets.
Like the kid in the back seat, the American people want to know if we are "there" yet. I think we are. pl