The Road to Bin Laden Went Through Iraq

Remember the days when Iraq was the "dumb war," when President Bush was nothing but a political punching bag, and the war-weary American mind began to tolerate the second coming of anti-war retreads of the 1960s and 70s?

Who knew how quickly a little extralegal military assassination done on the watch of a Democrat president could turn the left's resurgent "peace community" into a fist-pumping, flag-waving, patriotic cabal of jingoistic chickenhawks?  All of a sudden, for the first time in their adult lives, it seems they are really proud of their country.

Take MSNBC's Ed Schultz, a man for whom self-contradiction is a way of life.  After berating the illegal methods of waging war and the ineffective tactics of gathering intelligence that supposedly took place during the Bush years, Schultz crowed:

Osama bin Laden is the Republicans' Waterloo on national security.  They don't have the upper hand.  Their plan didn't work for all those years. They did the illegal activity and it didn't work. And it was President Obama and it was the Democrats who have supported this strategy that was well played out on the campaign trail and now is enacted big time and we're getting ... results!

The only problem with this analysis, of course, is the evidence.  As anyone with a coherent mind recognizes, it takes more than just waking up one day and saying, "You know what, I think it's time we go get bin Laden," to eliminate the fugitive terrorist mastermind.  It took years of intelligence gathering.  Had the left's strategy -- the one that Obama proudly touted from the campaign trail -- actually been employed during those years, we would have never found him.

Had Guantanamo been closed, had aggressive interrogation tactics not been used, had government secrets been released, had habeas corpus been extended, had civilian show trials been conducted, had terrorists been provided legal counsel, had "courageous restraint" been employed -- all liberal policy ideas -- Osama bin Laden would still be planning, plotting, and killing.  That he's dead serves only as proof that when liberals actually get serious about national security, they jettison their own foolishly naïve arguments and follow a conservative path.

The truth is that the entire liberal philosophy on protecting America has been rendered a joke.  Take their passionate insistence that enhanced interrogations like waterboarding violate our values.  It's fine to be morally opposed to such techniques, but what warped ethical interpretation of our values does one have to possess to condemn non-lethal interrogations, yet condone and celebrate shooting an unarmed, pajama-clad man in the face with an assault rifle? 

That question was put to Obama's National Security Advisor Tom Donilon by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.  Donilon's response was a priceless depiction of the awkward position the left now finds itself in.  When Wallace asked Donilon to explain the contradiction of believing that waterboarding a violent terrorist like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was not consistent with our values but shooting a violent terrorist like bin Laden in the head was, Donilon paused and then stammered, "We are at war with Osama bin Laden."  Of course we are...but isn't the same true for KSM and the entire al-Qaeda network?

But perhaps the final nail in the coffin of the left's national security credibility is the most satisfying.  In the first presidential debate between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, the man who now occupies the White House laid out his familiar condemnation of George Bush's war in Iraq by saying, "Six years ago, I opposed this war because...we hadn't caught bin Laden.  We hadn't put al Qaeda to rest, and as a consequence, I thought that it was going to be a distraction.  I wish I had been wrong."

Great news, Mr. President: as it turns out, you were!  Evidence has now emerged that the key al-Qaeda operative who helped our intelligence community pinpoint Osama bin Laden's courier (the rat who led us to the cheese) was captured in...wait for it...Iraq.  Hassan Ghul, a terrorist nabbed by American forces in Iraq in 2004, has been identified as providing the "key moment" when our interrogators put the final piece of the puzzle in place.

So the road to bin Laden traveled straight through the streets of Iraq.  This fitting conclusion provides the self-congratulating left with a most uncomfortable and inconvenient reality: those who wish to celebrate the killing of Osama bin Laden are compelled to acknowledge and appreciate the wisdom and courage of President Bush -- a man who faced withering criticism by those who now bask in the glory of what his policies (the very ones they demagogued) wrought.

As it turns out, Ed Schultz is right about the killing of bin Laden being a "Waterloo."  He simply has mistaken who is playing the part of Napoleon.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana.  E-mail, visit, or like him on Facebook.