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Saving Face; Losing Lives

"We have not gotten Osama bin Laden, obviously, because he's very careful." So said vice president Dick Cheny to Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room." That's encouraging. If someone is careful, then we've got a problem. Cheny went on to say, "I mean, he doesn't communicate, he's not in direct contact on a regular basis." What's he supposed to do? Phone the White House?

Apparently, those who work for bin Laden aren't quite as careful: "We've taken out several times that whole layer of leadership underneath Osama bin Laden and [Ayman al-] Zawahiri. One of the most dangerous jobs in the world is to be number three in the al Qaeda organization. There's a lot of them dead or in custody." Perhaps the Administration needs to consider that for a moment. Somehow, there seems to be and to have been lots of number threes. They just keep popping up. Could it be that organizationally there is not a chain of command? Isn't it just possible that the terrorists don't have org charts?

One of the reasons that we ostensibly went to war in Iraq was related to 9/11. Somehow, Saddam was behind it or at least intimately associated with the heinous attacks. Despite the fact that the 9/11 Commission indicated that that wasn't the case, that is still brought up, as in Cheny saying to Blitzer, "But the biggest problem we face right now, is the danger that the United States will validate the terrorist's strategy, that in fact what will happen here, with all of the debate over whether or not we ought to stay in Iraq, where the pressure is from some quarters to get out of Iraq, if we were to do that, we would simply validate the terrorist's strategy, that says the Americans will not stay to complete the task, that we don't have the stomach for the fight. That's the biggest threat." Fight whom? The terrorists? Or those in Iraq who are evidently involved in a civil war? Are we afraid that if we extricate ourselves from that quagmire, that if we spend the mounting billions of dollars that are being thrown into a sand-surrounded black hole on actually improving the security of American citizens in—gasp!—America, those number threes will say we're a bunch of sissies?

Is this all about saving face while American military members are losing their lives?

It's not a question about having "the stomach for the fight." It's about having the sense to understand when we're being snowed.



The org chart reference is dead on. We seem to kill or capture countless number twos and threes, but never--EVER--number one. The administration's lakc of understand that bin Laden is a figure to rally around, not a leader who barks orders to underlings, is one crucial reason why we're likely heading to catastrophe soon. Just because Ronald McDonald is the face of the company doesn't mean he's actually chairing the board.

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