Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hunt For Bin Laden

Defense Tech has an article called "How We Let Osama Get Away". It concludes by alleging that the Bush administration "let their hard-ons for Iraq and their petty infighting distract them from nailing America's number one enemy...They've shown would-be Osamas all over the world that you can attack America, and get off scot-free." Either that or they've shown would-be Bin Laden's that if they dare attack America that the US will go so far as toppling the regime harbouring them to get them. And a good number of their associates would be killed or captured in the process.

The author lays the blame for Bin Laden's evasion squarely on Bush and then goes on to add "there hasn't been a credible lead on the Al-Qaida cheiftain's whereabouts in more than two years." That's according to the Washington Times anyway. He decries the decision to pull out some Special Forces troops from Afghanistan that were hunting Bin Laden as if they were the only people capable of conducting the search. I think the men of units like the 10th Mountain Division might have something to say about that.

No mention is made of the 100,000 US, Afghan and Pakistani forces still searching for him. And there's no credible evidence that Bin Laden remained in Afghanistan for long after the Taliban were toppled- so if all those troops had been kept there, there's still no evidence that they would have been able to capture him. Despite the huge number in Russian troops in Afghanistan for a decade, the leaders of the Mujahideen were impossible to capture; and the Russians used a ruthless scorched earth policy to destroy whole villages. If such tactics failed them for a decade, is it really reasonable to blame Bush for removing a small cadre of Special Forces for the failure to find Bin Laden after only five years? I don't think so.

Defense Tech goes on to include criticism that the government employs no single man to oversee the hunt for Bin Laden. On the surface that seems like a valid enough point but there are Special Forces, Intelligence and Army detachments in Afghanistan who are already tasked with the job. They already know what the job is and are out there doing it - Bin Laden has apparently been reduced to using human couriers to communicate with the outside world. Will another bureaucrat and associated staff filling an office in Washington really make all that much of a difference to the effort currently being pursued? I'm not all that sure that it would.

Mistakes certainly have been made in the war we're currently engaged in- but hindsight is 20/20. Mistakes are always made in wars- and they are always easy to spot after the event. Whatever has been done is already done. There's no way to change the past and continually harping on about the difference that removing some SF guys from Afghanistan a few years ago may have made to the man-hunt is not at all helpful.

Perhaps the author would have been better served outlining his foolproof plan for capturing Bin Laden than criticising the massive manhunt still under way.

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