What if Barack Obama Had Listened to Joe Biden and Not Gone After Osama Bin Laden?


Last week, Vice President Joe Biden admitted to having advised President Barack Obama against giving the green light for the Special Forces raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. The admission underlines the impact of Obama's decision to go after the Al-Qaeda leader. Had Obama been swayed by Biden and the majority of his adviser team, bin Laden would still be at large. Because Obama chose to let the raid go through, he has greatly boosted his own reputation, and America's words are now backed by solid action. 

Biden and a range of other advisers in Obama’s national security team had advised against allowing the now-famous Seal Team Six to assault a compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was living. The only adviser to fuly support the mission was current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Biden recalled his dialogue with Obama about the raid, saying, "[Obama] said, 'Joe, what do you think?' And I said … 'we owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is, don't go. We have to do two more things to see if he's there.” 

It is understandable that anyone in a position of such power and decision-making capability would have some reservations making such a decision. Had Obama sided with the majority of officials in the room, bin Laden could still be alive today which brings about its own list of issues and threats. 

The mission to kill bin Laden was, of course, a success. It sent a strong message to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations that an attack on American soil will not go unpunished. 

Everyone in that room knew the risk that was about to be taken. The "what if" scenarios were endless. And while the final decision was effectively Obama's, the thinking and debate was not his burden alone to bear. 

Had Obama said no, and the American people told that there was such a chance to kill bin Laden, the uproar from the public would have been disastrous for Obama’s 2012 reelection chances. Bin Laden would more than likely be alive and moving freely around Pakistan and Afghanistan, evading the U.S. military and plotting more attacks against the U.S. 

At the same time, had Obama and Panetta been wrong, and bin Laden evaded the U.S. once again, it would have brought negative attention onto the Obama administration. Pakistan would have been angered by U.S. forces entering their borders and assaulting a compound but ultimately not finding bin Laden, severely straining U.S.-Pakistan relations.

While the final choice was up to Obama, the president took advice from many people leading up to his decision. While many said no, it was the advice from Panetta that Obama trusted and turned out to be correct, ensuring a successful mission. 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons