bin Laden - AP - May 2 2011
Arab Americans celebrate the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden in Dearborn, Michigan, early on May 2, 2011 Photo by AP
Text size

Who would have believed that former Vice-President Dick Cheney would have something good to say about President Barack Obama's policies? But yesterday, Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and many Republicans praised the operation in Pakistan in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

And let's not forget that these are the same people who said Obama was hesitant, dragged behind others, inexperienced in foreign policy, did not know what to do in the face of the wave of revolutions in the Middle East, and is unable to bring a decisive end to the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

It is not that bin Laden's death will stop the well-oiled wheels of the election machine, which has already started moving toward 2012. Even those who congratulated Obama stressed the work of the intelligence community and the army in the operation.

Elliott Abrams, deputy national security adviser under President George Bush, told Haaretz on Friday that Obama was bringing down the status of the United States internationally. Abrams attacked the president's policies in the Middle East and even took aim at Obama in his blog today for taking too much credit for the operation for which the intelligence community had been preparing for years.

But no matter how one examines the public relations aspects, the strike was a very impressive symbolic achievement by the Obama administration and a far less controversial achievement than health care reform.

Bin Laden's assassination helps Obama kill two birds with one stone. He has improved his reputation as commander-in-chief, proving he can stick with a goal and knows how to get results, and he has also paved the way for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, one of his campaign pledges.

So far the administration has not really managed to explain what the decisive moment will be with regard to the Taliban's forces and how it will be measured.

Some claim that Obama was lucky. Some warn that the elections are still far off and many things could still happen. But this week, Obama seems to have pulled the rug out from under many of the significant claims of his adversaries when an entire country - which is still to some extent mired in the trauma of 9/11 - heaved a sigh of relief.

Obama said Sunday night that people do not know the faces of the intelligence experts who brought him bin Laden's head. But they do know the face of the president, and at this point he is the big winner in the operation.

Chris Zack, one of the demonstrators in front of the White House (a demonstration of support, for a change ), said that Obama had taken a chance, and if he had failed, like the attempt to release the hostages in Iran in 1980, he would have paid a price, but he succeeded.