Romney, Carter and the Order to Get OBL
Mitt Romney, asked if he would have given the order to go after Osama bin Laden, as President Obama’s new video and his campaign aides have suggested he wouldn’t have done, per POLITICO’s Ginger Gibson: "Of course, even Jimmy Carter would have given that order."
Well, this is likely true as we know that President Carter ordered Operation Eagle Claw, which was a failed attempt to rescue the hostages being held in the former US embassy in Tehran.
The key word in the above is not “ordered” but, rather, “failed.” The notion that all orders equal success is simply wrong. And without getting into anything else, the politics of these order hinge not on the the issuing of commands, but on the success or failure of said orders. If Eagle Claw has been successful, Carter may have been re-elected in 1980 (granted, this is a counter-factual that is impossible to gauge). Still, the notion that giving orders is a simple thing and that once given success is guaranteed is simply not true.
Presidents clearly get both too much credit and too much blame, but Romney ought to tread carefully here as it is quite clear that the killing of Osama Bin Laden was a major victory for the US and not some simple lark that Obama blithely chose to pursue.
Had the operation blown up in Obama’s face, as Eagle Claw did to Carter, the political consequences of the order would have been quite different.