February 27, 2007Foreign Affairs

Unwanted Osama

Nobody wants him, so he’ll hide in the cave and make videos

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Dick Cheney’s four-hour trip to Islamabad, Amit Varma reminds us, acknowledges that Pakistan wasn’t doing enough to wipe out al Qaeda to begin with, and no sensible man would expect otherwise…(and) it is not in Musharraf’s interest to end the battle with al Qaeda by winning it.”

It turns out that Musharraf is not the only one who does not want to capture Osama bin Laden. Gen Peter Schoomaker, the outgoing chief of the US army, has stated that he does not think that capturing him is all that important. (via Arms Control Otaku)

So we get him, and then what?” asked (Gen Schoomaker) at a Rotary Club of Fort Worth luncheon. There’s a temporary feeling of goodness, but in the long run, we may make him bigger than he is today.

He’s hiding, and he knows we’re looking for him. We know he’s not particularly effective. I’m not sure there’s that great of a return” on capturing or killing bin Laden. [WP]It is easy to dismiss Schoomaker’s opinion as making virtue out of failure. He does have a point—turning Bin Laden into a martyr could hand him a victory that he would find impossible making indie video films under covert Pakistani hospitality. This is true if the United States is unable to capture him alive.

Yet the United States must not be in hurry to discard the value of arresting Osama bin Laden and putting him through a credible legal process. Commitment to bring terrorists to justice is a good way of deterring would-be attackers. And allowing bin Laden to cool his heels in a prison somewhere is a good way to avoid handing him the mantle of martyrdom. But this is not even as easy as capturing the man alive.



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