New York Congressmen, Rep. Anthony Weiner and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, recently proposed that the $50 million that was set as the reward for knowledge that would lead the U.S. to Osama bin Laden, should go to 9/11 victims and families.
The merit of their proposal can be debated on many levels. Online commentators have already begun to ask about why the money shouldn’t go to soldiers who have been injured in Afghanistan, or simply go back to the federal government’s growing deficit, or my favorite, towards a steak and lobster filled Las Vegas vacation for the Navy SEALs that did the job.
All of those ideas, including the ones from the Congressmen, can be argued well.
However, the fact that one week to the day from the successful mission in Abbottabad, we are beginning to argue about the reward money tells me that we may have bigger problems to solve than simply figuring out how to allocate reward money.
The bigger problems we may have revolve around how we as a country handle the aftermath of the mission and how fast it turns into political backbiting over details.
This goes beyond the celebrations outside the White House last week. It speaks to how quickly the euphoria has turned into political battles, and how those battles are only going to intensify. The fate of the $50 million reward should be just the beginning.
Arguments may start to revolve around our future strategy in the war on terror. Since al Qaida is not going to surrender, should our strategy now be to eliminate the next in command? Even though al Qaida is somewhat of a terrorist franchise, if there is value in knocking out bin Laden, then there should be value in knocking out the new No. 1.
So, if finding and eliminating the new number one should be a new priority, how much of our defense spending resources should go toward this new strategy?
I think you can see where I am going with this.
Due to the success of the bin Laden mission, not only is the future of our military in Afghanistan up for discussion right now, but so might be how we spend our military resources. Why spend billions on thousands of troops when small teams of specialists are accomplishing stated priorities?
And that brings me to my third potential post-bin Laden conflict: Mission.
A war on terror is clear and ambiguous at the same time. Clearly, terrorists are the enemy, but when do we win a war on terror? Are we really expecting to see a surrender flag or better yet, to ever rid the world of terrorists that hate America?
The problems with a war on terror are problematic enough, but our war in Afghanistan is almost as hard to define. Do we win the war in Afghanistan once we’ve turned it into a successful western style democracy? If that’s our mission, we may be finished with the war on terror first.
However, imagine if a politician proposed that we change our mission from rebuilding Afghanistan to simply knocking out terrorist leaders, Navy SEAL team six style? I could imagine political support for that new mission, especially if President Obama was standing behind the current mission focus in Afghanistan.
How quickly do you think GOP presidential hopefuls would hammer the need for a new focus, especially if it was polling well among voters?
It seems that everything in our lives since 9/11 goes faster. Media, the internet, even our heartburn medications all revolve around speed. It only makes sense that our ability to turn the biggest victory in the war on terror into heated policy discussions here at home should happen just as quickly.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.