So the details of the raid are starting to come in and it's very cool to consider who had to know what as the facts roll in. So here's the thing that has been on my mind for a while. This safehouse is clearly deep into Pakistan. You don't get a joint like that without lots of help, and I mean ISI and PakMil. I've been figuring that elements in the ISI have been playing this game for a while. Last June I wrote:
What if our troops found Osama? I mean practically speaking it should be understood that the reason why we don't find him is because he's got protection in Pakistan and Pakistan is generally off limits to our troops. We found Saddam, and he had a whole army to protect him - Osama's army only needs to be a few loyal and trusted men in the forbidden zone. So surely he is there. But what if?
You and I both know that if we found Osama, it would be all over. It being 'every reason' we are over there. GWBush's war would be declared over and our President would focus more closely on the domestic narratives he believes he has a better chance at controlling. And then so what if there was another mastermind?
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Anwar Al-Awlaki.
What do I expect you to do about it? I expect you to remember you are an American and for that reason you are a target of his holy war. And if you cannot remember his name, or the names of the hundreds of his closest followers, maybe you can remember that he exists, is connected and has some time to become a mastermind. Maybe you can remember that the ending purposes of our global war on the Jihadis is not merely a convenient narrative that conforms to a dramatic arc - that it is full of reality and therefore unpredictable and messy. It requires work to combat it, deal with the facts of it, communicate the truth of it. It requires attention to detail, and that if *we* are to be organized and purposeful that we require loyalty when our leader communicates and trust when he doesn't. But for us, as for everyone, such matters take time to establish and maintain.
And before Obama was elected, I predicted that as Musharraf was a lame duck, we had a bipartisan new front. IE nobody would care much or raise a ruckus if and when we caught Bin Laden in 'off limits' territory of Pakistan.
Now here's the cool thing. Obama is now poised to kick Karzai to the curb, once again and leave him to the crazed warlords. Which is to say that all of the bad blood Obama got for disssing McChrystal, Eikenberry et al, is now erased in the political victory of finding OBL somewhere other than Afghanistan. Land war in Asia? Now who has the last laugh. It is the mighty Obama who, never admitting to standing on the shoulders of GWBush, has now captured all the geopolitical glory he really cares about. So what if the Middle East goes to shit? We got Bin Laden!
But surely even Obama could not be blind the the fact that Hamas rued the day. They had the nerve to call him a great warrior. Hoo boy. Is there any question that these fools need to be restrained? I can't think of any reaction that I've heard from Israel on the news. Hmm.
So the SEALs ripped into Abbottabad, now synomomous with 'spider hole' and took OBL's compound apart, got the intel goods and shot the bastard in the head, along with all of his minions and immediate family. I wonder if they were dumped into the ocean as well. Probably not. Which leaves something of an interesting question about how many of the dead flunkies were left about on the floor, and who is going to miss them.
But the bigger question is who in the ISI is now a little bit panicked. There has got to be some forensic evidence the team picked up which could lead to clues about who was running to the store for groceries and video tapes. And of course now that the US has the computers and files and whatnot, it's just a matter of time before more sluething yeilds more results. It is becoming clear that this is Obama's military style, which makes sense in the Ronald Reagan worldview of secret engagements with only the most special type of boots on the ground. I have growing confidence that such matters will work.
It is also interesting to note that the tweeters who didn't realize exactly what those helicopters and explosions were on the fateful night suggested that it might be a drone attack. It means that Abbottabad must have gotten one or two in the prior week, because you want that kind of misdirection when you're about to pull a covert op. Get people used to thinking they know what's up.
All in all, I really hope some of the shooters picked up their shell casings. They would go really nice on eBay.