Krauthammer: OBL capture restores American military dignity

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
Font Size:

Now that Osama Bin Laden had been killed and that his body was in U.S. custody, aside from the jubilation that ensued, what will this mean in the long-run U.S. policy-wise?

According to Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, the global and political landscape has changed drastically. On early Monday morning’s coverage on the Fox News Channel, Krauthammer explained this is significant because it reestablished the United States as the global power.

“It is a great day and it is a great moment for the United States,” Krauthammer said. “And I think the principal effect, there will be many but the most important is to demonstrate the reach of the power and efficiency of the United States military. That, I think, will reverberate around the world. We have suffered over the past decade or longer. We were attacked in 1998 by al-Qaeda for the first time in a major way. And after an indecisive war in Iraq, a war in Afghanistan, it looks as if we were either losing or at least sliding backwards operation in Libya, the world has a sense that the United States did not have the power, did not have the efficiency and did not have the might. The way the world saw us right after we — Iraq with the Gulf War and the war of 1991, when there was this aura what America could do. And this tells the world that it could take a decade. You could be hiding anywhere in the world, we will stay on the trail, we will find you and we will kill you. And I think that it is like in some ways the Entebbe raid the Israelis pulled off in 1976 where they reached all the way to Uganda and extracted hostages and killed the hostage takers. This demonstration of strength I think is the most important effect.”


As he explained, bin Laden’s killing demonstrated only the United States is able to carry out such a mission, even though he had left his mark on other western nations.

“Exactly, and in a way it reinforces the symbolism here,” he said. “Al-Qaeda attacked, you know, all of the western countries practically, but the only one that could do what we did, the only one that had the power, the reach, the global scope, the wherewithal to do it is the United States. … This hasn’t been seen since the fall of the Soviet Union. Early on in that period, again after the Gulf War, [the U.S.] is the one who could do it easily and with great triumph. Lately people thinking, ‘Well, America has slipped.’ I think this is a great restoration of that image. The other effects are of course al-Qaeda may or may not reconstitute. I think we underestimate how important was Bin Laden’s leadership and symbolism and charisma, because you didn’t swear allegiance to al-Qaeda. You swore allegiance to him. There will undoubtedly be succession in the fight. It could be weakened and could but there is a good chance it could be weakened like al-Qaeda in Iraq was after we destroyed its leadership one after another after another. So I believe it’s going to have a secondary effect.”

But that raises the question – what is the role of the Pakistanis? Krauthammer suggested reading that nation’s immediate reaction will be important to determining the nature of the country’s relationship with the United States.

“The most interesting question I think Bret, is what is the role of the Pakistanis?” he continued. “Of all of the statements that will be coming out on this, the one that matters the most is the one out of Islamabad which ironically is where he was hiding. He was hiding in a suburb of Islamabad. It is like hiding on Long Island near New York. I mean this is not a cave, it is not remote. What was that government doing? Yes, it gave us information but what I understand in your reporting, Bret, it did not know about this operation. We went out on our own meaning we had no trust in the Pakistanis to keep a secret and not to somehow inform Bin Laden. I think that is extremely important. It’s going to have to explain itself. It’ll be interesting to see whether it washes its hands, whether it complains the way complains about the drone attacks or whether it joins in taking the credit. It’ll be interesting to see how it reacts because it will affect our relationship with Pakistan for years to come.”

He added this might not have a military effect as far as the situation in Afghanistan, since al-Qaeda’s role in that country had diminished.

“If you were to ask the military on the ground, if you were to ask Gen. [David] Petraeus, he would probably say it is not going to have a divisive effect,” Krauthammer said. “It may over the long run. Al-Qaeda will have some trouble perhaps. It may never have the unity and the power it had with the result of the loss of Bin Laden. That’s what the military would say.”

But the Fox News contributor explained this gives Obama cover if he wishes to accelerate a withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“However, the political effect here at home will be there is a sense as you look at the pictures of the jubilation in the streets in the of New York and elsewhere,” he said. “We have gotten our just revenge. This is a victory. That’s how it feels and that I think will give the president an opening, if he wants it. If he determines that the war in Afghanistan is a losing proposition I believe in the long run that we will be there for years and years and have a kind of indecisive outcome. If he decides he wants to actually accelerate a withdrawal this is the hoping needed and this is an opening he could use. In a sense, it’s like that idea way back in the ’60s to declare victory and go home. That would be a crude way to put it here but I think in a sense the president can now argue in time we’re going  to start a withdrawal, a rapid withdrawal. Al-Qaeda is weakened. It is not leading in Afghanistan that much. Even now there are only dozens of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It is weakened, our job is done and we will keep vigilant. But it will allow him if he wants and I’m not sure how he’ll decide – I think it gives him a political opening to say we are out, leaving with honor and dignity, having accomplished our role.”