"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Decision

Much will be made of Barack Obama's decision to order what essentially is the assassination of Osama bin Laden, using Seal Team 6 "behind enemy lines" inside our erstwhile ally, Pakistan.   Certainly he deserves credit for making the decision, although in a somewhat negative way.   Surely no one can deny that, faced with the same intelligence, and offered the same advice by the American military and intelligence chiefs, any number of other actual and potential Presidents would have given the same order.  Indeed, it's hard to imagine a circumstance where anyone wouldn't give the same order -- George W. Bush certainly would have; so would John McCain, or Mitt Romney, or Sarah Palin for that matter.   The only Presidents where we have any doubt about whether they would issue such an order are, of course, Democrats -- Carter, Clinton, and Obama himself.   And perhaps Obama most of all:  isn't it true that, one of the main reasons we want to give Obama credit for making the decision and giving the order is that, for most people, we just didn't think he had the balls to do it?   In that sense, the credit we give him is negative... he gets credit for doing his job because Obama's incompetence, vacillation and weakness have become the default assumption about him.   He didn't f*** this one thing up, so we give him credit.  

So, two cheers for Obama on the great triumph of giving an order that anyone else would have given.   He's not my hero; the men of Seal Team 6 and the other brave servicemen serving in Afghanistan and Iraq... those guys are my heroes.  

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