America Has No Time To Rest on Its Laurels

Mark Laluan

Residents of Abottabad, Pakistan, said they believed the two men who were hiding Osama bin Laden were either smugglers or gold merchants and that fact accounted for the unusual high and thick walls that had been built around the compound. More details emerged Tuesday, May 3, 2011, about the compound where a U.S. Navy Seal time killed bin Laden early Monday and the raid itself, including that the men assembled the land for the compound from several people in the area and supervised construction of the property itself.

After ten years, thousands of American lives lost, and billions spent in military expenses, Osama bin Laden was finally found by U.S. forces.
Sitting in his house.

A house which happened to be less than half-a-mile away from Pakistan Military Academy at Abbottabad; needless to say lawmakers, the American public and a consensus of world opinion have begun to question the effectiveness of American aid to Pakistan.

Since 2001, the United States has given over $18 billion in military aid to Pakistan. The Pakistanis have been stalwart allies in the War on Terror and in containing Chinese ambitions in Central Asia; but to allow bin Laden to hide under the nose of allied intelligence, in an area heavily saturated by Pakistani military forces, has without a doubt affected the credibility of America’s geopolitical strategy in the region.

It is not our suggestion that America halts all aid to Pakistan or halt justified military aid to any partner countries. Rather, American leaders need to place more trust in the intelligence community, regional partners and eyes on the ground which will allow America to pursue a sound geopolitical strategy reliant on facts not assumptions.

There has been a vocal minority in America’s intelligence community and among our regional partners in South Asia that bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan.

This advice—as most useful military intelligence—was ignored in favor of assuming our enemy was “simpleminded” to the point of being willing to hide forever in the caves of Tora Bora.

The Obama administration also took far too long to make good on a guarantee extracted from former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, which would permit American anti-terrorism raids targeted against al-Qaeda on Pakistani soil.

This tardiness is well in keeping with President Obama’s habit of completely dropping the ball in regards to foreign policy. Long before Obama’s flubs in Libya and the events of the “Arab Spring,” Obama failed to connect with the leaders who had ousted Musharraf in August of 2008.

Instead of using American aid as leverage to increase the tempo of anti-terrorism operations in the region, Obama was content to leave the War on Terror on autopilot as he diverted his focus exclusively to domestic issues such as health care reform.

War cannot be waged by putting up a map and bombing targets according to where one’s darts stick. The same mistake was made by President Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War and the same mistake is still being made by Obama as he and his adherents contemplate our next move.

Bringing bin Laden to justice is not the end of the War on Terror. Considering the lives lost, blood spilt and treasure spent, we urge the President to take a truly proactive role in creating a successful foreign policy towards fighting the War on Terror in South Asia.