Joe Klein: President Bush 'Deserves Both Credit and Blame' for bin Laden Killing

In his May 2 Swampland blog post "Osama Gone, and Now...", Time's Joe Klein makes some arguably contradictory assertions in his thoughts on the role former President Bush played in ultimately finding and killing Osama bin Laden:

George W. Bush deserves both credit and blame here. He deserves great credit for amping up the human intelligence and special operations sectors of the intelligence community, which made this success possible. These, and little more, are precisely the tactics and level of engagement that the war against al-Qaeda required from the start; it is, and should have been, a special forces war. Bush’s decision to divert attention from the goal by going to war in Iraq seems more disproportionate and foolish every day–does anybody believe that Saddam Hussein would have survived the Arab Spring?

But if Afghanistan was and always has been a special forces war -- even under Bush -- how was engaging in a more conventional military operation in Iraq a diversion?

Even if it diverted public attention, is Klein arguing the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence establishment cannot handle two military theaters of operation at a time? If so, shouldn't Klein be more outspoken in his critique of Obama for starting a third theater of military operation in Libya?

And why is Klein so sure that the Arab Spring protests would have happened in an alternate universe in which the U.S. and its coalition had never ousted Hussein from power? Even if it would have, how could he be sure that Hussein would not relinquish power short of a coup d'etat by his own military? How could Klein be so sure that Saddam's military and security forces would have turned on him, rather than prop up his regime indefinitely as is the case with Gadhafi in Libya.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters