Skip to comments.Mitt Romney on Osama bin Laden
Posted on 04/30/2007 10:23:38 AM PDT by Eagle Forgotten
A story in the Associated Press characterizes Mitt Romney's statements in a recent interview this way:
[Romney] said the country would be safer by only "a small percentage" and would see "a very insignificant increase in safety" if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person," Romney said. Instead, he said he supports a broader strategy to defeat the Islamic jihad movement.
I haven't seen the full text of the interview, so perhaps there is some missing context. But if the quote is correct, just speaking as one taxpayer, I would say a) we have already spent billions and gone to a lot of effort to try to get bin Laden, and b) it would be worth still more money and still more effort to kill the man behind 9/11. I can't imagine any serious Republican candidate for president would say otherwise. Perhaps Romney should watch the tape of the planes hitting the towers again.
What's wrong with it? We have much bigger problems than just Osama. The whole region exists a culture of Islamic terrorism and as long as Israel exists that will not change.
Yes, another terrorist would take bin Laden’s place if we succeed in killing him, but it would be a significant psychological victory.
As Romney, who I personally do not support said, killing Bin Laden will NOT stop the war. No more then the Israels regular killing the leader of Hamas, Islamic Jihad et al has stopped them.
There is a plentiful supply of Bin Ladens waiting in the wings. The same way killing the head of the USSR would NOT of ended the Cold War, killing Bin Laden will not end the GWOT.
But the bin Laden thing is a Catch-22:
if someone says catching OBL is important, the libs scream "we're losing the war against religion of peace freedom fighters!" because we haven't caught him yet.
if someone says OBL isn't a big deal, it gives rise to the criticism you suggest.
It's similar to the war in Iraq -- if we say we're having success the spin is that our heads are in the sand and we don't care about military fatalities; if we say we need to change strategies then the spin is that the war is a failure and we should surrender.
Media manipulation, but it's something we have to deal with.
I also agree with Romney.
Al-quaida is just like the Mafia. You knock off the top guy, right away, another gumbah will be there to take his place.
You’ve got to try to neutralize the entire organization. Getting the top guy is a worthy objective but you shouldn’t expend all your resources on him.
I aways picture Mikey Moore leering “Where’s Osama?!” in his speeches and movies. They know from focus groups that this revenge motif works for folks who only see the small picture.
It is a common excuse to blame the one person, instead of the movement which threatens to one day bring down civilization.
They will play wack-a-mole until our walls come down, unless we take the attack to the source.
The second they take out Osama, there will be a raft of MSM articles on why it doesn’t matter.
Really. Sounds like the DU people and the Michael Moore-types complaining about taking our eye off bin Laden somehow means we aren't still fighting the WOT. It's as if they truly believe that all the terrorists in the world are just sitting in a corner of Afghanistan just waiting to be conquered. It is perfectly naive to think that this conflict is about one man. Romney sees the big picture and realizes that the GWOT is about conquering an evil ideology -- not just one man.
Having said that, Romney's said of course it would be great to capture or kill bin Laden, but it cannot be the sole priority at this point:
Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said his candidate "believes it's important that we continue to hunt down and capture or kill bin Laden," but reiterated the campaign's message about the broader war on terror.
"If other candidates believe that only one person should be our sole focus, instead of recognizing the larger threat of regional and global terrorist networks built by al-Qaeda and others and destroying them, then I think it has much less to do with naivete and instead is merely a disagreement," Madden said. "We would disagree with a candidate who thinks our military and [intelligence] efforts in the war on terror should only focus on one terrorist leader." www.politico.com
In a practical sense, what he’s saying is true - another nutjob will just replace him.
But the PSYCHOLOGICAL value of seeing Bin Laddin’s head dripping blood from the tip of a pike in Bagdad Sqaure would be immense - not that we do anything that.....EFFECTIVE.
Besides, if you make the career of being a leader of Al Quiada a sufficiently hazardous one, perhaps individuals will be less likely to announce themselves as such.
I disagree with Mitt. Capturing OBL would be a symbolic victory in the WOT. Do you think that capturing Hitler would have helped in 1940? Sure, another Nazi would have taken his place, but it would have helped....
I think we've knocked off about 256 (or is it 2560?) of the #3 Al Qaeda guys. A very dangerous position, but they keep signing up for duty. LOL!
In any event, the perfect time to get bin Laden would have been BEFORE 9/11.
Well, 256 or 2560 or 2,560,000. We have no alternatives.
We are at war with a fanatical creed of lunatics determined to kill us all or covert us all and we need a president willing to bend all the rules, twist all the arms, and execute all the military actions necessary to make them reaqlize we are not giving up and we will resist them to the last man or destroy them.
In effect, he has been neutralized to the position of a lame duck. This is an embarrassment to him and to his Islamic supporters. He has been taken out more effectively than with a gunshot. He is a wooden Indian and not a martyr. Those that wish him dead should realize he is of much more value to us living in a cave instead of being a “sainted” Islamic hero.
And it may be likely that he serves us better alive than dead. It is always possible that we have a good idea where he is, what he may be thinking, and who he is associating with. Catching large numbers of his #3’s may be a sign that as soon as he sends a trusted aide to the field for his mischief, we pick them up. And we know to do that by having sources in his inner circle.
Why kill your source of information? OBL may be our best source.
Governor Romney (On the Threat of Radical Jihadism): "In the current conflict, there is only one way to lose, and that is if we as a civilized world decide not to lift a finger to defend ourselves, or our values, and our way of life. I will not be silent, you will not be silent."
Killing him is still of vital importance for a number of very real reasons -
For starters....Simply for the justice of it being done / accomplished. For those lives lost due to the attack on this great nation on Sept 11th, 2001 - But also for the lives lost of brave warriors who have been hunting him since late 2001 - The risks that have been taken in tracking him down (along with killing over 3/4 of al-Qeada's top leadership) most are hardly aware of - These men deserve to see the job finished.
However more importantly (to a degree) is that most underestimate the value that UBL still manages to hold (within the radical Muslim street throughout the ME...but also importantly within the Afghan/Pak border regions)...and holds his value simply because he has managed to stay alive (along with Zawahiri) - Another "aura" of sorts has managed to build up around him precisely because of this fact. He remains alive.
Killing him would radiate a resounding defeat throughout not only the Afghan/Pak border region....but throughout the radical Muslim street as well. Some like to talk in circles about how "cause" is larger then just one person (and this is certainly true...without question).
But make no mistake killing UBL will be an endgame outcome that will stick in the world's collective mind (including those radical Muslim wannabes)...UBL is dead. The United States tracked him down and killed him. Full-stop, end of discussion (no amount of psycho babble will be able to deny this fact).
Killing UBL will also recapture the 10 second mindset of a majority of Americans. It will not only remind them of the WOT....but it will reshape their mindset that the American military (headed by CINC GWB) is methodically and deliberately tracking these SOB's down!! (just like he has quietly and steadfastly said over these past 6 years).
The American public will see it as a complete victory (one in which the factless spinning MSM can't spin negative no matter how hard they will try). The American people deserve this victory.
And when we get it...we'll cherish it. And that in itself will provide a new rededicated "will" by the American public not just to this CINC but to this whole just cause (to continue to see this WOT through).
Lastly our warriors deserve it (which goes along with point one). So -
1. Justice is owed.
2. Killing UBL is a resounding defeat that the radical Muslim street will not only feel...but won't be able to deny or spin. A sense of the inevitability of defeat will only further drape itself over them
3. His death will bring clarity back to the American publics mindset in this WOT - While at the same time bringing back a level of loyalty and respect to our CINC for quietly and steadfastly showing the resolve he has for the last 6 years.
4. His death = complete victory (in one aspect of the WOT) - A victory that can't be denied.
5. Our warriors deserve it and a good morale boost while not needed is always welcome...and this one will have certainly been earned / owed.
I agree with the people who said that getting bin Laden wouldn’t all by itself end the problem of terrorism, but nobody claims it would. The issue is whether it would be a major gain. DevSix makes the case that it would be.
To DevSix’s list, I’ll add the issue of succession. As redgirlinabluestate said, al-Qaeda has shown that it has plenty of people willing to serve in its leadership. Bin Laden’s death wouldn’t mean that al-Qaeda would have no leaders, but we could hope it would have too many. There might be two or three guys who see themselves as the natural successor. The capture or death of bin Laden could lead to a period of factional infighting within al-Qaeda.
Romney could have supported comprehensive anti-terrorist policies without seeming to downplay the hunt for bin Laden.
Mitt and Osama (excerpt)
Our own Matt Lewis, showing the innate industriousness that sets Townhall contributors apart, contacted the Romney campaign and got the full text of the interview. Surprise, surprise- turns out the AP did miss some context. The exchange between Romney and reporter Liz Sidoti went as follows:LIZ SIDOTI: "Why haven't we caught bin Laden in your opinion?"There are two stories here. The first is the medias mischaracterization of Romneys remarks, a mischaracterization that was eagerly and not inappropriately seized upon by John McCain who lamented Romneys naïveté. But you know what? The media engaging in such shenanigans, be they the byproduct of a willful distortion or just garden-variety incompetence, is a boring dog-bites-man story. Perhaps Ive been a pundit too long, but I just cant work up an appropriate amount of outrage over this.
GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: "I think, I wouldn't want to over-concentrate on Bin Laden. He's one of many, many people who are involved in this global Jihadist effort. He's by no means the only leader. It's a very diverse group Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and of course different names throughout the world. It's not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person. It is worth fashioning and executing an effective strategy to defeat global, violent Jihad and I have a plan for doing that."
SIDOTI: "But would the world be safer if bin laden were caught?"
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: "Yes, but by a small percentage increase a very insignificant increase in safety by virtue of replacing bin Laden with someone else. Zarqawi we celebrated the killing of Zarqawi, but he was quickly replaced. Global Jihad is not an effort that is being populated by a handful or even a football stadium full of people. It is it involves millions of people and is going to require a far more comprehensive strategy than a targeted approach for bin laden or a few of his associates."
SIDOTI: "Do you fault the administration for not catching him though? I mean, they've had quite a few years going after him."
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: "There are many things that have not been done perfectly in any conduct of war. In the Second World War, we paratroopered in our troops further than they were supposed to be from the beaches. We landed in places on the beaches that weren't anticipated. Do I fault Eisenhower? No, he won. And I'm nowhere near as consumed with bin Laden as I am concerned about global Jihadist efforts."
THE REAL STORY IS THE DIFFERING VIEWS OF DEFENSE AND THE WAR that McCain and Romney offer. Although the AP did mischaracterize Romneys remarks, its still fairly clear that he puts less of an emphasis on catching bin Laden than McCain does. And thats good.
McCains view is part 9/12 and part 9/10. The 9/12 part of it, to a point anyway, is okay. Like Byron York, hes angry about what happened on 9/11. We all are. And hes responding to that anger viscerally, suggesting that no resource be spared in tracking down this one man. Unfortunately, we live in a world of scarce resources. If we spare no resource to track down bin Laden, we by definition forego other perhaps more strategically relevant tasks. On 9/12, we were all furious, and we all responded viscerally. My complaint with this ongoing visceral reaction is that the time to react cerebrally has long since arrived.
And then theres the 9/10 part. Before 9/11 and the Bush administrations sea-change in policies, terrorism was considered a law enforcement issue. The emphasis on capturing one man specifically to punish him for 9/11, as Yorks post implies, is redolent of that misguided philosophy even though its well intended.
THE AMAZING THING ABOUT THE APS WRITE-UP of its interview with Romney is how it so thoroughly buried the lede. The most interesting thing Romney said was, Global Jihad is not an effort that is being populated by a handful or even a football stadium full of people. It is it involves millions of people. This flies in the face of the wishful conventional wisdom that were just dealing with a few outliers who intend us harm. Once again, Romney is proving himself to be smarter than the average bear.
Romney is also dealing with the fact that were in a global struggle. While viscerally it would be satisfying to make bin Laden our top priority, strategically such a course would be ludicrous. Doing so would make as much sense as if Pearl Harbor caused us to declare the capture of Yamamoto and Tojo our top priorities while neglecting to consider the fact that we were suddenly at war with hundreds of millions of people.
Romney gets the scope of the problem, and deals with it maturely and thoughtfully. His tack may not be as satisfying as making a Wanted: Dead or Alive poster, but hopefully it will be more effective.
“There are many things that have not been done perfectly in any conduct of war. In the Second World War, we paratroopered in our troops further than they were supposed to be from the beaches. We landed in places on the beaches that weren’t anticipated. Do I fault Eisenhower? No, he won. And I’m nowhere near as consumed with bin Laden as I am concerned about global Jihadist efforts.”
Actually a great comment.
AP is a bunch of manipulative lying vipers.
Of course, Romney believes it would be a major gain as well. We all know, however, that it would be more of a symbolic gain than anything else. But it would still be a gain nonetheless -- for all of the reasons DevSix mentioned plus some.
Romney could have supported comprehensive anti-terrorist policies without seeming to downplay the hunt for bin Laden.
He supports THE MOST comprehensive anti-terrorist policies (see Unmarked Package's home page) and puts the hunt for bin Laden in proper perspective IMO. Only those who take his comments out of context, or those with ulterior motives, would think otherwise.
Don’t forget — Mitt on with Jay Leno tonight!
With that said, make no mistake Killing UBL is of vital importance...and yes, the world will be safer the day that man dies....
His death / capture will be a huge symbolic victory....that in turn will have very real ramifications regarding the day to day abilities of our enemies.....along with re energizing the American publics will.....