Is Obama Wise to Make getting Usamah bin Laden so Central to his Public Policies?

My column at Salon.com is out:

“Should Obama chase Osama?

On Sunday the president-elect told “60 Minutes” he wants to capture or kill bin Laden. Is he setting himself up for failure?”

I argue that while actually stepping up pressure on al-Qaeda and quietly going after Bin Laden more vigorously would be all to the good, speaking so publicly and frequently about this goal is unwise.

If Bin Laden cannot be found, Obama will be blamed for not living up to his own rhetoric.

And, trying to get at Bin Laden may backfire if US air strikes and incursions further dismay the Pakistani public, the support of which is important to the US fight against extremists. (Pakistanis largely voted for the center-left, secular-leaning Pakistan People’s Party in February’s election).

So this is an instance in which ‘speak of it seldom and wield a big stick behind the scenes’ is the better policy.

Read the whole thing.

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