Two views on Obama’s coup de grace over ‘Lilliputian’ right…

Two accounts of the significance of the killing of Osama Bin Laden (to add to Pete’s excellent precis last night)… First Lara Marlow for the Irish Times, who pronounces it a coup de grace for President Obama:

Bin Laden’s death marks the most significant achievement to date of the Obama presidency. Not since Obama’s election and inauguration had the country known such euphoria – better than the Nobel Peace Prize, which many claimed was unwarranted.

Obama has succeeded where his two predecessors failed, in killing the man whom Bill Clinton declared as early as 1998 to be Public Enemy No 1.

Until yesterday, Republicans constantly questioned Obama’s handling of foreign, defence and counter-terrorism policy. Henceforward, his security credentials are beyond reproach, his chances of re-election greatly enhanced.

Bin Laden’s death seemed to dwarf quarrels between Republicans and Democrats over Obama’s birth certificate, budgets and the deficit.

It made Republican presidential hopefuls who’ve so often assailed Obama’s alleged lack of leadership look like Lilliputians.

And a deliberated view of the next conspiracy theory which covers some useful territory, just 12 hours after the news broke in the US:

  • pauluk

    Obama will undoubtedly get a temporary bounce in his approval ratings.

    But the real credit belongs to the US mililtary and intelligence services, and, of course, the robust security policies initiated by George Bush and maintained, for the most part, by Obama, all of which enabled the acquisition of the information needed for OBL’s demise.

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    That would be this “excellent precis”. 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry, it was feeding time at the zoo when I did the blog…

  • pauluk

    So now who is exploiting national security issues for political advantage?

    In the liberal mindset, it’s anathema for Republicans to use national security for their own purposes, but seems like it’s fine for Democrats.

    Am I getting this double-standard thing right?

  • Mick Fealty

    That puzzled me too Paul.

  • JAH

    Obama is a politician. So what’s new?

    Well the fact he took out Bin Laden with minimum casualties rather than a drone strike. Imagine the indignation of the right if he had blown away all the children on the site. And that’s what new. He realised it would be a short-lived triumph with innocent blood on his hands.

    Bush on the other hand destroyed an entire country.

  • Carrickmoreman

    “In the liberal mindset, it’s anathema for Republicans to use national security for their own purposes, but seems like it’s fine for Democrats.”

    Except, it is alleged they had this house in their sights since last August. Team Obama could’ve used that to their advantage to help with the 2010 election season, but rightly didn’t. On the flip side to that, you had the Bush Admin (Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge confirmed) playing politics with the threat level prior to the election.

  • pippakin

    I was actually surprised at how many Americans went onto the streets to celebrate, proving how deep the wound Bin Laden cut. This will last well into the election campaign and, if there are no further terrorist attacks, may lead all the way to a second term.

    Politicians are the same something is only wrong when the other side are doing it.

  • Alias

    How exactly is Obama supposed to be ‘exploiting’ the death of Bin Laden for political purposes? Is it claimed that there would have been a different outcome to discovering Bin Laden’s location if it wasn’t an election year? If so, that is to misunderstand the situation. There could be no show trial for Bin Laden, only summary execution. Everybody in the US security services was on the same page there, so Obama would not have played odd man out. It’s just dumb luck for Obama that the security services discovered his location on his watch.

  • Alias

    * penultimate election year

  • RepublicanStones

    Of course it wouldn’t be long before some on the right try to clip Obama’s wings

    http://on.cfr.org/m9DDJJ

  • Brian

    Alias has got it dead right. Any President would have made the decision to take him out given the intelligence and information Obama was given.

    There is nothing political about this, other than whomever is in the Oval Office would get an obvious bounce in the ratings (at least temporarily).

    I considered hopping on the Metro to join the crowds outside the White House Sunday night to celebrate, but as it had been a long weekend my roommates and I just cracked open a couple bottles of champagne left over from NYE party. It felt good to have something to cheer about, something to be happy about with no reservations*.

    (Especially after watching the Capitals lose an excruciating playoff game in OT just an hour earlier)

  • Brian

    “On the flip side to that, you had the Bush Admin (Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge confirmed) playing politics with the threat level prior to the election.”

    Is this true? I hadn’t heard this before.

    But I will say, after a few months no one seemed to pay any attention to the various threat levels. At least not those of us who had to use public transportation near high value targets everyday.

  • RepublicanStones

    Interesting take on the kill/capture dilemma here

    http://tinyurl.com/69xstyh

    It remains to be seen if they’ve made a martyr of him to his wahabbi followers. More than likely.
    Not sure why the US govt has since retracted the ‘wife as a human shield’ story. Even if untrue, such iconoclasm would have been part of the wider psyop/propaganda war against those he’s left behind.

  • Brian

    ‘Not sure why the US govt has since retracted the ‘wife as a human shield’ story. Even if untrue, such iconoclasm would have been part of the wider psyop/propaganda war against those he’s left behind’

    It was a different male in the compound, and the US said it’s not entirely clear what happened. IMO they should haven’t made any statement detailing the account until more than at least a day had passed in order to get it correct. It would certainly not be surprising if a female was indeed pushed in front of a desperate and cornered combatant, as women to these stone age fanatics are of little value and worth. Actually, in all of the Pakistan and much of the Middle East they aren’t worth anywhere near a man in the eyes of society and their own families.

    “The law permits criminals to be shot in self-defence. They should, if possible, be given the opportunity to surrender, but even if they do not come out with their hands up, they must be taken alive, if that can be achieved without risk. Exactly how Bin Laden came to be shot (especially if it was in the back of the head, execution-style) therefore requires explanation. Why the hasty “burial at sea” without a post-mortem, as the law requires?”

    He wasn’t simply a criminal, he was (by his in declarations) at war with the US (and just about every government in Western Europe and the Middle East). If there was any danger at all to the US commandos shooting him was entirely justified.

    Furthermoure, intercepted communiques back in 2001 when he thought he was going to be captured made it clear that he wanted his guards to kill him if his capture was imminent. Like Hitler, he never intended to let himself be taken alive. I suspect he had weapons and bombs hidden around the compound to make sure he would not give his enemies the chance to take him alive.

    As for the ‘hasty’ burial, Islamic law requires bodies to be quickly. Saudi Arabia, as I’m sure everyone is aware of, refused the body when it was offered to them.

    More will come out on this in the days ahead.

    Also from that article: ‘It is ironic to reflect that Bill Clinton secured his election by approving the execution of Ricky Roy Rector (a convict so brain-damaged that he ordered pumpkin pie for his last meal and said that he would “leave the rest until later”).’

    Laughable assertion that this ‘secured his election’.

  • andnowwhat

    Odd that President Obama had already given the order when he was doing this…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9mzJhvC-8E&feature=BFp&list=WL4CA1D16D4064B511&index=46

    Just watching the Newsnight report on this and he, Clinton et al were watching it live. They knew OBL did not cower and that he was unarmed. I wonder where the stupid nonsense that he cowered behind his wife came from?

  • gréagóir o frainclín

    There is no such thing as ‘playing fair’, there’s double standards all round as well as lies, counter lies etc…..and NI during the Troubles is a fine example!

    However, the Bin Liner got his well deserved commuppence.

  • andnowwhat

    Just a thought.

    Obama wants out of Afghanistan but there’s the “what did our sons die for” reason to stay. OBL is the cultural shorthand for the “war” and maybe taking him out gives Obama the ability to greatly reduce the occupation while satisfying the group that I mentioned ie. job done (ok, we all know it isn’t but…..)

  • gréagóir o frainclín

    Folk should check out some excellent documentaries by Adam Curtis now on You Tube but were originally shown on the BBC…ie

    The Power of Nightmares

    The Trap

    The Living Dead

    etc….

    Gives a good insight into the ‘War on Terror’ and how governments control the flow of information, etc… to even society and people themselves.

  • pippakin

    The decision is the one any president would have made and so is what Obama will do with it. He will do his best to keep the momentum from the execution right through to the next election.

  • andnowwhat

    The decision is the one any president would have made and so is what Obama will do with it. He will do his best to keep the momentum from the execution right through to the next election.

    Pippakin

    Nah, Dubbya would have bombed the place and handed a right propaganda tool to AQ. Hell, he bombed the Al Jazeera office in Kabul based on nothing but an already discredited rumour.

    Anyway, unless the GOP put Ron Paul up (which the right will not allow) Obama will walk it. The right in the GOP and the teabagger’s behaviour in the budget debate seems to have put a large swathe of Americans off them

  • pippakin

    andnowwhat

    Yep, Dubbya would have bombed the place to the ground but the result would have been the same: Bin Laden dead, liberals outraged and fundamentalist Islamists reaching for their version of semtex.

    A trial would not have been acceptable to the US. The very thought of it would have given Fox News palpitations and even the liberal media would have had a hard time justifying what the rest of the country wouldn’t tolerate.

    America is not Europe, and terrorists are not ordinary criminals, anyway Bin Ladens followers should be thrilled to bits at the thought of their leader cavorting with seventy two virgins.

  • andnowwhat

    That is the difference (among many thankfully)between Dubbya and Obama. Obama did it the clinical way rather than by indiscriminate force.

    Just the thought of bombs hitting the nearby garrison and killing Pakistani troops (and their families) would be a nightmare in the grand scheme, a recruiting aid for AQ indeed.

    The latter part of your post stinks of the nasty triumphalism expressed in America today. I all likelihood there will be innocents killed in revenge for what happened. Killing OBL is very symbolic but that is all, it changes nothing as OBL has been merely a poster boy for some time now.

  • pippakin

    andnowwhat

    Its not intended to sound triumphalist, I was trying to hilight the difference between the American and European way of doing things.

    I must admit that I cannot abide the fundamentalist attitude to women so that certainly coloured the final sentence.

  • andnowwhat

    I think you’ll find that the attitude to women is little better in western supported states such as Saud where the victim of rape is the one prosecuted and punished nastily.

    Funnily enough, there’s a “christian” lady who calls Talkback from time to time and objects to women playing sports, wearing begs, wearing bikinis and so on. It always amuses me that she would make a very fine muslim.

  • Fionn Og Mor McComhain

    another reason why women should rule the earth

  • John Marren

    I’m new to Slugger O’Toole. I’m 65 but as young child in NYC I was indoctrinated into Fenian thought by my mother who was born in Arigna. County Roscommon.
    Johnny, is it a sin to kill an animal? Yes I said. That’s right–God said Thou shalt not kill. Is it a sin for a man to feed his family? No I said. Johnny, do you expect an animal to commit suicide to feed your family? No I don’t. So you would commit a sin to feed your family? Yes I would. So you think its okay to sin? I was very confused. Johnny, there is no way a man can avoid sin. There are times when a man must sin to feed his family.
    Johnny, is it a sin to kill a German? Yes of course it’s a sin. Do you think it was a sin for Americans to kill Nazis? No it wasn’t. She would stare at me. Aren’t you the clever lawyer. You can kill people when you feel like it. I would get angry. You’re not fair. The Nazis attacked us; we didn’t attack them. So you think it’s alright to defend your family or your country in self-defense. Yes I do. Do the Irish have the right to defend Ireland from the English. Yes. The Irish were attacked by the English; we didn’t attack England. So you think it’s alright to kill Englishmen. If they are in Ireland, yes, definitely.. I was inducted into the IRA by the time I was six. Johnny, is it a sin for a man to lie? Yes it is. Johnny, would you tell a lie to protect your family or your countrymen? I was on thin ice at this point. If I had to lie I probably would, but I would prefer to remain silent. Why? If I stayed silent the Black and Tans might lie to themselves about what I was up to. That was the answer she wanted from me. I was then told family secrets about who was and who was not in the IRA and what they had done. I’ve kept those secrets my whole life and I am not prepared to rat anyone out. The last actual IRA member I knew personally has been dead about 30 years. I still have no idea who might be hurt by telling. My mother would say good if you start telling others about who you or your family killed someone might think you were bragging.
    BACK TO THE TOPIC OF BEN LADEN. I think Barack Obama should have kept mouth shut about killing Ben Laden. If I were a Moslem I might think he was bragging. I am embarrassed that America has endorsed state sponsored assassination. Hey, Barack I think you were born in USA; I am not a birther. On the other hand I think you are so stupid you may be one of the BORG. Let’s call him Obama of Borg and taunt Moslems that resistance to America is futile. I voted for Obama in November 2008. I decided in the voting booth on election day. I felt more comfortable about McCain as a man and a leader. I was pissed that McCain couldn’t remember how many houses or cars he owned. Using all my Irish wit I decided to vote for Obama. I was a white guy born in Harlem and Obama was a black guy born in Hawaii. Guys if that isn’t Irish logic at its best or worst I can’t guess what I could say to prove I was Irish. I would also never vote for a guy with a ponytail. Ponytails look nice on horses not politicians. That election every network reported that Obama got a lot of votes from white men over 50. You will not get my vote in 2012 Barry. Mr. Obama apparently loves Harvard graduates like himself and enjoys keeping his head warm by shoving it up a Wall St. bankers ass.
    Right now Donald Trump looks better than I expected. He sounds like a wise ass from New York; I was born a wise ass from New York. When The Donald was asked about rising oil prices he said he would tell OPEC to lower them. What will you do if they refuse? Trump replied he would seize the oil fields. At that point I remembered I had graduated from Parris Island – Marine Corps Recruit Depot on January 4, 1969. I love the Marine hymn which starts “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” Hey Libya you want to meet the marines again? If the average working stiff wouldn’t mind paying fifty cents a gallon for gas Trump might be a winner. Guys I cannot tell a lie. At that price I will vote for Ralph Nader twice. Fenian logic seems to require us to screw someone other than ourselves.

  • pauluk

    Alias: How exactly is Obama supposed to be ‘exploiting’ the death of Bin Laden for political purposes?

    This comment might help to answer your question.

  • Alias

    It doesn’t, since this is the salient question: “Is it claimed that there would have been a different outcome to discovering Bin Laden’s location if it wasn’t an election year?”

    As it happpens, I answered it myself: “If so, that is to misunderstand the situation. There could be no show trial for Bin Laden, only summary execution. Everybody in the US security services was on the same page there, so Obama would not have played odd man out.”

    There are two issues here: the course of action taken by president in killing Osama and the political capital from it.

    The point being that the latter did not alter the former, so it cannot be fairly claimed that Obama kiled Osama (has a ring to it) for political capital.

  • Alias

    “Right now Donald Trump looks better than I expected.”

    I know, and isn’t it desperate that the right has generated so few serious contenders that we actually take this guy seriously? Where have all the cowboys…err, statesmen gone?

  • Brian

    ‘Nah, Dubbya would have bombed the place and handed a right propaganda tool to AQ. Hell, he bombed the Al Jazeera office in Kabul based on nothing but an already discredited rumour’

    yes, because Dubbya was in charge of every operational decision in each war zone…ha

  • pauluk

    Hilary Clinton said that the Obama administration would use ‘smart power’, although, up to the present, it has been conspicuously absent from Obama’s foreign policy decisions.

    Indeed, one of the smartest thing Obama has done as president has been to continue implementing the large majority of security policies initiated by George W Bush. Without them, they most probably would never have got bin Laden.

    Congratulations to Obama for abandoning his specious campaign rhetoric and coming to terms with the real world.

  • pauluk

    The precision and effectiveness of US intelligence operatives, and the stunning special forces take-down of OBL, stands in sharp contrast to the subsequent bungling presentation by Obama’s people of the ‘facts’ of the raid. Obama and his cohorts have been tripping over themselves with a series of misleading, contradictory and sometimes downright inaccurate reports as to what actually happened.

    Consequently, Obama’s approval ratings have become something of a dead cat bounce.

  • ThomasMourne

    How many people have been killed by US armed forces and their ‘allies’ since 9/11 2001?

  • Alias

    Pauluk, did you see the official Whitehouse picture of Obama and staff watching the special operation on a satellite link? It was a major own-goal for Obama. Instead of positioning him at the centre of it, he was on the sidelines looking for all the world like a college teacher out of his depth as the navy admiral sat in the ‘president’s chair.’ A shocked Hillary was pictured in it with her hand clasped over her mouth in a gesture that conceals some unspeakable horror. What was the point of having the ‘kids’ watch a horror show if they just looked liked scared kids at the end of it? The Republicans couldn’t have picked a better picture if they were his PR staff.

  • Brian

    Alias

    I didn’t think it was that bad. It was bad for Hillary, surely. But in the end people will remember they got osama and not the picture.

    A lot of good, photoshopped comedic productions came out of the picture, at least.

  • pauluk

    Interesting take on the photo, Alias. The admiral does look to be in charge, right enough.

    You’ve got to at least give it to Obama that, when it comes down to it, he is willing to give the kill order. I’m thinking of the pirates, his expanded use of drones attacks and now OBL.

    Some people, including myself, were thinking that, when he came to power, he was going to emasculate the US military. That hasn’t been the case. Hesitant and unsure of himself, yes, but he seems to finally come through and make the difficult decisions. Kinda negates the Carteresque thing a little.