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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

No More Mr. Naive

This is not a foreign affairs site, so I won’t venture any guesses about the impact of the killing of Osama bin Laden on Pakistan, Afghanistan, or the Middle East–or for that matter, on the lethal capacity or intentions of al Qaeda and its imitators.
The event will probably produce a very short-lived boost for economic indicators, including stock markets, while slightly reducing the upward pressure on oil prices being caused by instability among oil-producing states.
The President will probably get an approval ratings bounce, even if reaction to bin Laden’s demise turns out to be very negative in the greater Middle East. But as Nate Silver cautioned early this morning, the bounce is almost certain to be short-lived, and the 2012 presidential election will almost certainly revolve around domestic rather than international issues.
Still, from a strategic point of view, the death of Osama on the direct orders of Barack Obama is going to complicate life a bit for the Republicans who want to replace him in the White House, and for the vast army of conservative gabbers who have spent the last three years depicting Obama as an enemy of Americanism at worst, and at best as a liberal naif who doesn’t understand the dangers of the world and is constitutionally incapable of acting forcefully to defend the country.
In particular, the idea that Obama is hopelessly addled by multilateralism and fear of offending friends and foes will be difficult to promote in the face of this dramatic action taken on his direct orders deep within Pakistan (very near the Pakistani Military Academy, as a matter of fact) and apparently without specific advance notice to Pakistani authorities. This aspect of the operation may or may not have been advisable in terms of U.S.-Pakistani relations, but it will definitely be a problem for the attack dogs of American conservatism.

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