There’s no way around it: Barack Obama has taken the greatest public relations triumph of his presidency and ruined it. Not completely ruined it, no: the take-out of Osama bin Laden, America’s public enemy number one is too big an achievement to be completely undone by the president’s ham-handed handling of the aftermath. But he’s done an admirable job of taking the shine off of one of his nation’s most gloried moments by turning Americans’ attention from celebrating together to arguing over a couple of photographs and whether or not a crack team of Navy SEALs were merciful enough in their treatment of one of history’s most notorious mass murderers.
It’s worse than that, actually. He’s also advertised his country’s tendency toward subjugating its own best interests to appease its enemies in the jihadi world. . . .
Washington isn’t trying to sap the morale of North Americans; it’s trying to undermine the allure of jihad for those who might be tempted by it. Were America interested in showing its strength, it would not worry whether bin Laden was armed or not. It would insist that he was a marked man, a monstrous butcher, and deserved to die.
Were America interested in showing strength, it would release the photographs of Osama’s bullet-riddled corpse to advertise to his followers and sympathizers that he was nothing but a mortal, like the rest of us, who paid for his atrocities in blood, spilled unforgivingly by the greatest military power in history. It isn’t about jingoism. It’s about propaganda. It’s about psy-ops. These are standard devices of warfare.
Instead, the president has made the worst of a tremendous achievement. He has insisted that releasing the photographs, showing a bloody wound over bin Laden’s eye, would be too “gruesome” for Americans to stomach—the same people, as Jon Stewart pointed out, who “from 8pm on, every show on television we watch begins with an internal tracking shot of a gaping wound above someone’s left eye, pulling out only to reveal half a hooker in a dumpster, discovered by a child on a bicycle”—and too “inflammatory” to the Muslim world.
Had Barack Obama, say, come out on May 1st and announced that Osama bin Laden had been found, and shot down like a dog by a heroic team of highly trained U.S. troops, Americans would have cheered just as loudly. Had he released the photos, the world would know for certain that this once-mythic jihadi had died an ignominious and brutal death at the hands of a most fearsome adversary. Instead, the White House looks timid and unsure, while whatever credibility it retained after admitting it peddled false information, gets steadily eroded by a flood of fake death photographs hitting the Internet that will only confuse and sow doubt among anyone who might not implicitly trust America’s reputability—which is to say, about a billion Muslims worldwide.
Justice for Osama bin Laden - new Pat Condell video