Saturday, October 16

Considering bin Laden

Osama bin Laden hasn't been seen or heard from for some time now, with the possible exception of a few audio tapes. Furthermore, it is unclear whether those audio tapes were made prior to the Afghan offensive or not.

The question I would pose, while not entirely original, is the following: Of the possible consequences for Osama, (death, capture, disappearance) which is best for the US.

If Osama is found and is either dead prior to us finding him, or is killed resisting his capture. We will be spared the resources devoted to hunting him. However, and rightly so, capture is not the top priority of the Aministration in the GWOT. The Administration's main goal with regards to Osama and his organization is the crippling and ultimate destruction of al-Qaeda. Osama is the icing on the cake so to speak. So his capture would not impact our immediate activities to any great extent. However his "martyrdom" may serve to rally the Islamist/terrorist base and increase the recruiting efforts by the enemy. Thus in a sense, this outcome paradoxically is a win for the bad guys.

His capture, trial, death and or imprisonment will be somewhat costly, and probably serve as the greatest (of the three possibilities listed) inducement to the Islamist/terrorist cause. Depending on how the trial plays out, this is at best a draw for our side.

If Osama is forced by our efforts to obtain him so deep into hiding or he dies an anonymous death somewhere in deep in Pakistan, we will keep searching for him. However, his base, seeing that we are still searching will not be able to claim his death. Thus they will be denied using his death (caused by the great Satanic State which is America) as a rallying cry.

In conclusion, not finding a dead Osama is the best possible outcome for "our side". One wonders if or when he is found somewhere deep in a cave by our Special Forces, might the best strategy be to kill him, give him an anonymous grave, and write about it 20-30 years from now in some lonely memoir. The administration would lose the uptick in "approval ratings" from his death, but would gain much in the GWOT for the enemy would lose both Osama's presence and his "glorious martyrdom".