Skip to comments.Victor Davis Hanson: The Late Bin Laden - Thoughts on presidential leadership and the media
Posted on 05/05/2011 12:23:30 AM PDT by neverdem
There was something quite Roman in the killing of Osama bin Laden, something reminiscent of the manner in which the Romans eventually dealt with a rogues gallery of charismatic tribal enemiesSpartacus, Vercingetorix, Jugurtha, Mithridates, Boudica, and othersall of whom claimed victory over the Romans and invulnerability from their global reach, only to be eventually defeated, forced to kill themselves, executed, or killed in battle.
The killing reminds us that there are official rules we cite and unofficial ones that, thankfully, we actually follow. Pakistan is to be praised publicly as a partner, even as privately it is recognized as the sort of enemy that allows bin Laden to build a mansion in a suburb inhabited by its retired military officers. So we swiftly invade the country, kill him, and then praise the Pakistanis for their helpwith full knowledge that bin Laden couldnt have been there for years without Pakistani government assistance. I have no idea whether disseminating such disinformation is sustainable.
The bin Laden hit came at an opportune time: the U.S. had been talking of decline and leading from behind, and yet just pulled off a commando raid beyond the capability of most other countriesat the same time that the Arab world has gone topsy-turvy, and its half-dozen ongoing rebellions and insurgencies have diverted the attention of the Arab Street. So Osama is dead and in Davy Jones Locker, while crowds chant against Assad and Qaddafi. The success of the operation should also raise if you are going to take Tripoli, take Tripoli questions, and may remind President Obama to finish his ill-conceived Libyan adventure, which can only succeed by achieving, either de facto or de jure, the mission objective of regime change.
The mission was a targeted hit, but we describe it as a firefight, apparently to preclude the sort of legal mess that has ensued with Khalid Sheik Mohammedor the ongoing saga of a captured Saddam Hussein, which stood in such contrast with the abrupt fate of his sons. Death ends legal issues, and in our postmodern, out-of-sight, out-of-mind world it is apparently as acceptable to act as judge, jury, and executioner of terrorist leaders (and rogue leaders like Qaddafi) as it is considered illegal and immoral to detain or water-board them. Killing bin Laden and his son, or Qaddafis son, is permissible, it seems, as long as we cite the circumstances of an ongoing war or a firefight, and maintain that we are not doing what we are in fact doing.
Its also easier to conduct assassinations abroad if the Commander-in-Chief is liberal. This neutralizes criticism from the media, universities, the legal community, and Hollywood. Obama the law professor can assassinate bin Laden in Pakistan, dump his body in the ocean, and with first-person emphasis boast of our brilliant mission in a way Bush the Texan could not get away within the same manner that killing the son of Qaddafi, and the effort to kill Qaddafi himself, are not really forbidden targeted assassinations under Obama, and in the manner that Guantánamo, tribunals, renditions, preventive detentions, Predators, wiretaps, and intercepts that so bothered Senator Obama and others are now deemed essential. This paradox is just the way it is; the media will report a liberal presidents Predator drone attack or commando hit as done with reluctance and without other viable choices. Were a conservative leader to take the same actions, he would be portrayed as a trigger-happy war-monger reveling in the violence. Thus, the street celebrations that ensued when news of bin Ladens death broke are seen by the media as a new unity inspired by Obama. Three years ago, they would have been seen as macabre triumphalism.
Victor Davis Hanson is a contributing editor of City Journal. He is the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.
The liberal media inhales hypocrisy and exhales talking points.
And, almost surely there will be a response.
The media are the enemy. Many people here see the media as the propaganda arm of the left and the Democratic Party. It is actually the other way around: The left is the political arm of the media-industrial complex.
Its also easier to conduct assassinations abroad if the Commander-in-Chief is liberal. This neutralizes criticism from the media, universities, the legal community, and Hollywood. Obama the law professor can assassinate bin Laden in Pakistan, dump his body in the ocean, and with first-person emphasis boast of our brilliant mission in a way Bush the Texan could not get away within the same manner that killing the son of Qaddafi, and the effort to kill Qaddafi himself, are not really forbidden targeted assassinations under Obama, and in the manner that Guantánamo, tribunals, renditions, preventive detentions, Predators, wiretaps, and intercepts that so bothered Senator Obama and others are now deemed essential.
I think that we conservatives are long been misunderstanding Obama. I do not see him as a squishy/mushy replay of Jimmy Carter. I think that misconception leads to a general misunderstanding of his foreign policy. My belief is that Barack Obama would commit this country to war in a heartbeat if he really believed it would advance his ideology which ideology sees America as the ultimate obstacle to some sort of black liberationist/socialist/Marxist one world utopia.
Here is a reply written in March 2009 to a different Victor David Hanson article outlining this view:
We conservatives are in danger of misunderstanding Barak Obama's foreign policy. The general assumption here is that he is likely to conduct foreign policy like Jimmy Carter. I think he is far more likely to wage war like Trotsky and conduct foreign policy like Stalin.
Barak Obama is not a Dean Acheson liberal. He is a dedicated Marxist power monger. Normal leftists of the kind described by Victor David Hanson at his cocktail party in France are simply soft on the international forces of the left for the very simple reason that they are sympathetic with those leftist goals. There are many leftists in Europe as well as in America who are, if not sympathetic, at the least tolerant of aggressive Islamic fascism because it produces chaos which they instinctively know opens opportunities to exploit for the introduction of socialist one world government. They are smugly confident that they can deal with the Mohammedens after the chaos caused by their jihad opens the way for leftist world government.
But note, Barak Obama already has power and he is on the very brink of obtaining power of the kind enjoyed by the likes of Hugo Chavez. If one accepts that Barak Obama is a Manchurian Marxist, then it is inescapable that he seeks personal power unrestrained by democracy or human rights to do all the good that he alone sees must be done. Such a man calculates how to get the power he covets. American history has never offered a megalomaniac such a perfect storm to exploit to gain that power. Washington might have had it, but he was not a megalomaniac. Abraham Lincoln, with all his faults and with all his trampling on the Constitution,never lost his patriotism and never abandoned his fidelity to the principles of democracy. So in the midst of our tragic civil war, Lincoln preserved his essential humility. Franklin Roosevelt was never burdened by too much humility but he lacked the worldview, possessed for example by Adolf Hitler and, one speculates, Barak Obama, which drives a president to exploit a financial crisis in a world war to attain ultimate power. Roosevelt was a fixer first, an egomaniac, an elitist liberal, and a man who enjoyed manipulating the levers of power, almost as a hobby. He was certainly high-handed but he was not prone to be an autocrat. Barak Obama certainly is obsessed with an ideology which propels him toward autocracy, a degree from Seoul Alinsky's school for scoundrels provides him with the modus operandi, the financial crisis provides him with the opportunity, and the absence of political opposition makes it all possible.
Now if this is Obama's state of mind why would a man grasping for ultimate power tolerate a repugnant ideology, such as aggressive fundamentalist Islam, competing for that power?
Virtually all leftists in all of history have not been supine in the face of challenges to Leftism. Leftists care only about casualties in war when those wars are waged in defense of democracy or in opposition to Leftism. One need no better proof of this principle than the flip-flops of the American Communist party pivoting around the Hitler-Stalin pact. The left has been willing to extravagantly sacrifice the blood of its sons and daughters in defense of its own power or in the acquisition of that power. The historical examples are are numerous: the Russian Revolution after 1918 and it's bloodbaths in its civil war against the White Russians; Stalin's murder of upwards of 10 million Kulaks in Ukraine to extend his authority there; the unbelievable casualties sustained by the Russian army in ultimately beating the Germans; the suicide attacks by the Communist Chinese in the Korean War mirroring the same suicide tactics Stalin required against the Nazis; Mao's deliberately sacrificing his own troops against both Chiang Kai-shek and the Japanese to further his own power; the indifference of the authorities around Ho Chi Minh to the casualties sustained by the civilian population of North Vietnam, or to the astronomical casualties sustained at the front in pursuit of the conquest of the South; the bloodthirstiness of the Khmer Rouge in murdering 25 to 33% of their own people in Cambodia.
If Obama is in fact a committed Marxist but shrinks from violence in obtaining or preserving power, he will be exceptional among the breed. There are a few such as Gorbachev but his forbearance occurred in the context of a dead ideology. I believe that it is more likely than not that Obama would wage war against any threats to his power whether domestic or foreign. Obama has it within him to stun the left by his aggressiveness. In fact, I think we're seeing this already in his tardiness in withdrawing from Iraq and his doubling down on the war in Afghanistan. His objection to Iraq occurred before he had power. His diplomatic overtures in the Middle East primarily endanger Israel, not his own power.
Of course, this projection of bellicosity by Obama makes for the ultimate irony especially for the European left described so vividly by Victor David Hanson because an ideologue like Barak Obama is far, far more likely to pitch the world into war than a civilized Christian like George Bush. George Bush, contrary to all fulminations of leftist crazies like Naomi Wolf alleging fascism in his soul, has proved as willing as Cincinnatus or George Washington to walk away from power.
I cannot imagine Barak Obama doing the same.
And the enemedia doesn’t leak national security details when a liberal is in charge. It’s sickening. THESE are the people responsible for selling the ONE to a gullible majority of the public. May they burn or otherwise go out of business one day. They are anything but the “free press”.
Ping for later.
I bet they take out the Statue of Liberty.
It’s always a pleasure to read Dr. Hanson’s work.
Especially like the line about it being easy to conduct political assassinations if you are a liberal. If the bit about it being Roman is true— then they waited for years before acting on intel. President Obama knew his brother was in that house two years ago. The Paki affirm they told us that. But the depot in the White House had to wait for such an assassination to benefit him. I guess it is Roman after all
and the O is Caesar.
-——Death ends legal issues———
This is the lesson of history that is lost on so many who place an overarching value on the lives of enemies. Enemies are for killing.
I would quibble with the language of the piece. What happened? Assassination? No, the action was not assassination, the action was execution. The team or professionals executed a Presidential finding in a swift and precise manner. The action was an execution.
If our forces encounter an unarmed terrorist they may put two bullets in his brain but are not allowed to pour water up his nose.
I do so enjoy your posts when I come across them because they are full of mental imagery and very informative to say the least. Thanks! :O)
I got a couple of paragraphs into your well written post, and without seeing the bottom, thought to myself, this must be nathanbedford. Didn’t even bother to look, so confident was I, and was not surprised at all when finally, as I read on, your trademark image came into view. Nice post, as always.
Obama is being misread. Zero had zero executive experience upon ascending the throne. He is a pedestrian mind, not a quick study and immune to change. Thus, he is dogged in pursuit of his Maoist doctrines.
The problem with decent Americans/conservatives is projection. They map their basic decency and values into this entity. They cannot really imagine the malignant narcissism, Nietschean will to power and Marxist black liberation ideology at the heart of this man.
Same for liberals who live in denial. They will giddily, mindlessly help him exploit some Reichstag Fire and bring the entire edifice of our liberal (in a good sense) democratic republic crashing down in a Balkan tragedy.
I suspect the “Fire” to be economic. Reinhart & Rogoff, Princeton University Press, “This Time is Different”
No it ain’t.
Huck...yes, I experienced the same thing...started scrolling through the post and said, “That has to be NB.” Sure ‘nuff, great stuff.
If no one else sees the death photos, I hope we had the good sense to send a set to Uncle Mo.
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