Risks of Bin Laden Mission

The nearly flawless execution of the raid on the bin Laden compound should not obscure the risks our forces took in attempting it, nor the risks the President took in ordering it. Mr. Obama's decision to use Navy seal commandos instead of bombs made the attack more surgical and assured bin Laden's identity could be confirmed. But success is never certain and failure would have been a spectacular embarrassment that further enhanced the mythic image of bin Laden, and emboldened his adherents all over the world.

Yet the very success of the mission carries risks as well. It will certainly add to pressure from the President's left to get out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later. Liberal commentator Peter Beinart this morning declared that the war on terror over.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, who can't get the conflict turned over to Afghans fast enough, was so excited by the news of bin Laden's death that he joined the college-age celebrants outside the White House last night.

Secretary of State Clinton tried her best today to portray Pakistan as an ally and partner, but bin Laden's conspicuously luxurious digs in the suburbs of Islamabad has certainly put that idea in doubt. New Jersey Democratic Senator Lautenberg wants aid to Pakistan suspended. The administration may need to resist such pressures, but the demise of bin Laden will make that harder.