Why We Haven’t Found Bin LadenAugust 26, 2007
I read an unusually long piece on the Newsweek site today that gave a very comprehensive background on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and although many of the details it featured have been known for some time, many have not, and it was nice to see it all laid out in one story. I’d suggest that everyone read it. The Ongoing Hunt for Osama bin Laden
My takeaway from this was that it further revealed that the Iraq invasion was an unnecessary and counterproductive blunder. Instead of narrowly focusing on the source of the 9/11 attacks and the ideology that fueled it, we’ve gone ahead and created new problems. Big problems that we’ll undoubtedly be dealing with for generations. Here’s the graph that best sums it up in my mind:
The American effort to chase bin Laden into this forbidding realm was hobbled and clumsy from the start. While the terrain required deep local knowledge and small units, career officers in the U.S. military have long been wary of the Special Operations Forces best suited to the task. In the view of the regular military, such “snake eaters” have tended to be troublesome, resistant to spit-and-polish discipline and rulebooks. Rather than send the snake eaters to poke around mountain caves and mud-walled compounds, the U.S. military wanted to fight on a grander stage, where it could show off its mobility and firepower. To the civilian bosses at the Pentagon and the eager-to-please top brass, Iraq was a much better target. By invading Iraq, the United States would give the Islamists—and the wider world—an unforgettable lesson in American power. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board and, at the time, a close confidant of the SecDef. In November 2001, Gingrich told a NEWSWEEK reporter, “There’s a feeling we’ve got to do something that counts—and bombing caves is not something that counts.”
Oh, it’s counting all right. Half a trillion dollars and counting. Four years and counting. 3728 and counting.