The Hunt for Osama

Months ago, even before John Kerry emerged as the Democratic frontrunner in the race for president, I predicted that if Osama bin Laden was captured before the November vote Bush would win reelection. And if Osama was not captured by then, Bush would lose.

And what do we have on the heels of the Republican convention, but a high-ranking state department official stating that America is close to finding the elusive terrorist. Joseph Cofer Black told journalists, “If he [bin Laden] has a watch, he should be looking at it because the clock is ticking. He will be caught.” What clock is that? The November elections, of course. Despite the fact that U.S. and Pakistan forces have no new information regarding bin Laden’s whereabouts, the state department made it sound as if counter-terrorist forces were minutes away from capturing bin Laden. So once again, we have Bush’s White House using fear (and the promise to resolve that fear) as a primary campaign strategy.

Bin Laden has become the boogeyman, the big bad wolf, which is funny, because for months Bush seemed to forget that as he squandered tens of billions of dollars of resources in Iraq. I wonder, if we had focused solely on al Qaeda would bin Laden be captured by now?

And even more unsettling: would it even matter if he were captured? As events in Iraq demonstrate, there is no one single bad guy. Saddam Hussein is gone but death and destruction continue. Most experts say that al Qaeda is such a decentralized network that it will carry on quite effectively with or without bin Laden.

So, Mr. Bush, make all the promises you want, but it’s all just politicking.