The Blog

Does Romney Get It?

12:50 PM, Apr 27, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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For the most part, yes. Dean Barnett points to this quote from a speech the former governor gave earlier in the week at Yeshiva University as evidence:

"What Jimmy Carter fails to understand is what so many fail to understand: Whether it is Hamas or Hezbollah or al Qaeda, there is an overarching goal among the violent jihadists that transcends borders and boundaries. That goal is to replace all modern Islamic states with a caliphate, to destroy Israel, to cause the collapse of the West and the United States, and to conquer the world."

But then there's this quote, from a brief interview he gave to AP reporter Liz Sodoti yesterday:

[Romney] Said the country would be safer by only "a small percentage" and would see "a very insignificant increase in safety" if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person," Romney said. Instead, he said he supports a broader strategy to defeat the Islamic jihad movement.

Of course, Romney is absolutely right--capturing bin Laden won't significantly reduce the threat we face from radical Islam. The president himself has repeatedly made the same point. But is it worth "moving heaven and earth" and "spending billions of dollars"...well, yes. Capturing bin Laden would be priceless. In a world of finite resources, and in which manpower is the scarcest resource of all, it would be foolish to take men and materiel out of the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq, a far more potent enemy, just to pursue a single man. But if it were merely a matter of cost, is there anybody in this country who would object to spending an extra $10 billion to catch bin Laden? There may be a price at which it just doesn't make sense, but I'd be hard pressed to determine what that price is. And whatever it costs, I'd pay double to catch him alive.