Killing Bin Laden: Being a Candidate versus Being a Leader


Let me just start by saying, if you haven’t noticed, that on this blog I often post items that take different views on a question or issues.  That is I post, and like to post on both side of issues, especially if I find the argument at least thought provoking if you quite convincing.

This post by Russ Roberts seem to skate very close to saying maybe we shouldn’t have hunted down Osama.

It’s an unusual point of view and posted it as an interesting contrarian thought, but to remove doubt:  I don’t agree.

Given that he ordered the murder of 3,000 US citizens in act of aggression comparable to Pearl Harbor, I think we had no choice to but to hunt down and kill him.  Hats off to President Obama for doing so.   President Bush also is to be applauded to the extent he helped set this up to be successful.

Go back to the campaign of 2008, McCain (remember him?) and Obama. Suppose in the middle of the campaign, someone returned from the future and told you that by 2011, the President of the United States will have kept Guantanamo Bay open, launched a war against Libya, and crossed covertly into an ally’s territory to assassinate Bin Laden. Who would you think that would be? McCain or Obama?

Couldn’t be Obama. The man who was repulsed by American exceptionalism, who pledged to close Guantanamo Bay, the man who said the way to deal with bad guys is to talk to them, not attack them.

What happened?

Three possibilities come to mind. The first is that politicians on the campaign trail lie and dissemble. They need to motivate their base, craft an image, and so on.

The second possibility comes from a CIA economist who told me in the middle of the 2008 campaign that when Obama becomes President, he’ll know what Bush knows (meaning horrific and frightening classified information) and he’ll do the same thing as Bush.

The third possibility is that when you get into power, you change. It’s fun to play video games with real lives. You can’t help yourself. It’s easy to convince yourself (given that classified information) that you have no choice.

I think it’s a mix of two and three. I think Obama the candidate really thought he would be different. President Obama is not so different.

What we’ve learned about Obama (and power)
Russ Roberts
Wed, 04 May 2011 13:20:05 GMT

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One response to “Killing Bin Laden: Being a Candidate versus Being a Leader

  1. renaissanceguy

    I agree that it is a combination of 2 and 3 with a small pinch of 1. Candidates do have to portray themselves in the way that they think is most likely to get them voted in, which is why I think it is a bit of 1.

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