Why Did Barack Obama Kill Bin Laden?


Barack Obama served as the president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. Before his presidential term and in the initial part of his presidency, the United States had suffered a lot of terrorist attacks from the Al Qaeda. As the rightful and constitutionally sworn-in President of the United States of America, Obama had the duty to protect the United States citizens from any imminent danger (Klaidman 2012, 42). The Al Qaeda, led by Bin Laden, waged a number of terrorist attacks in the United States. The most significant terrorism attacked that was commission by Bin Laden was the 9/11 attack on the United States which led to several deaths of United States citizens including some foreigners (Klaidman 2012, 43). The former president George W. Bush had struggled to fight the Al Qaeda by initiating a military wage on the Al Qaeda through a strategy called Neptune Spear. This strategy was very costly and did not work out. However, due to a number of reasons, Barack Obama took a bold step and decided to kill Bin Laden, the leader of the Al Qaeda in order to weaken the Al Qaeda terrorist groups and put into an end their terrorist attacks on the United States by sending the American troops to execute the mission (Klaidman 2012, 46). Though it was a risky strategy, it turned out that it worked out. The reasons that pushed Barack Obama to kill Bin Laden have remained debatable until today. This paper presents an argument about the reasons that pushed Barack Obama to make a bold decision to kill Bin Laden.

Domestic politics

Most people believe that Obama made a bold decision to kill Bin Laden due to the pressures from domestic politics. It is believed that Obama decided to make a risky move by sending American military troops to kill Bin Laden who has been a big threat to the country, and by doing so he would win the public support thus increasing his approval ratings which would increase his chances of winning re-election for the second term as the president of the United States (McKelvey 2012). Actually, he made the decision to kill Bin Laden in his first term in office and at that particular moment, his approval ratings for re-election for the presidency were below 50% ranging between 45% and 50% (McKelvey 2012). Neoliberalism is evident from his self-interest that made him decide to kill Bin Laden. Barack Obama shifted the public interest to his individual interest through deciding to eliminate Bin Laden for his own personal gains. He wanted to secure is political reputation and get a higher rating for reelection. To make the matter worse, at the time he became the president, the country’s economy was low. He struggled to improve the economy and the economy was growing slowing but not adding many jobs that would meet the demand. His rival political party, the Republican was using this as his weakness and the Republican had begun to gain popularity and public support narrowing the approval rating gap between them. Moreover, the Obamacare healthcare program was stumbling in its initial phase due to the economic challenges and the Republicans were using this against Obama to paint him as a failure and had failed the American people (Schaller 2015, 201). All these pressures from the opposition political party had begun to make him worried about his approval ratings that had begun to drop. Therefore, he was motivated by these political pressures to make an extraordinary move that none of the American presidents had managed to do. Therefore, he exploited the rational actor model by deciding to kill Bin Laden which would instantly increase his approval ratings for re-election and gain public support more than the Republicans (Theories-io-summary.pdf. n.d).

Patriot games

Another factor that made Barack Obama decide to kill Bin Laden is because of attacks and allegations from conservative circles especially his political rivals that he lacks patriotism and he sympathizes with Muslims because he is a Muslim. These allegations had made a significant impact in American society making some people lose trust in their president. A lot of safety issue and insecurity worries had risen due to these allegations (Gollwitzer et al. 2014, 607). Especially that terrorist attacks were increasing in the United States and there was no instant solution to this problem, therefore the public believed that Barack Obama was sympathetic with his fellow Muslim (Theories-io-summary.pdf. n.d). This was a very serious fallacy that could significantly affect his political career. With regards to constructivism theory, due to the allegations made against Obama, he must have learned from his experience that the allegations made against him could significantly impact his political career. It is certain that Obama must have learned and know that his career was at risk and so he had to do something. Therefore, using thick rationality, Barack Obama must have been forced to use lethal force against the Muslim Al Qaeda by killing their leader Bin Laden so as to show is a sense of patriotism and also to save his political career by increasing his approval ratings for re-election to office (Bronstein 2013). Additionally, the Democrats were alleged to be soft and reluctant on national security and Obama was attacked for being lenient on national security issues and also for having racial tinge. Therefore, Obama made the decision to kill Bin Laden in order to clear the air and disapprove these allegations as well as to show is patriotism and concern to the national security of the United States.


Obama’s personality contributed a lot to his decision to kill Bin Laden. Essentially, Barack Obama is a self-driven, dedicated and courageous person. He is a person who strongly believes that nothing is impossible and anything can be done to fix any situation. No other president in the history of America has ever had personal traits such as that of Obama. Suppose Hillary Clinton was the president by then, she definitely does what Obama did. Obama is a person who makes things happen and will not give up until the set goal is achieved. Obama was concerned about both the safety and economy of the United States and was determined at addressing all these issues at once (Schwartz 2016). His objective was to stop the military war far and divert the funds that were used to fund the war to be used in other development purposes such as the Obamacare health program and replace it by killing Bin Laden. Despite being criticized and being opposed to his strategy by his close officials and other people, he stood firm by his decision and did not step down at all until the mission was successful.


Alternative, Barack Obama decided to kill Bin Laden as a self-defense tactic which was aimed at protecting the United States citizens from further terrorist attacks. It appears that the act of self-defense that Obama used by killing Bin Laden who was a threat to the United states was based on Realism. Obama made this decision based on realism bearing in mind that nations would always fall into conflict as they pursue power. Bin Laden who was the Al Qaeda leader who was in charge of planning and coordinating terrorist attacks was an imminent threat to the United States (Bronstein 2013). Therefore, using the rational actor model, Barack Obama ranked his preferences making the safety of the United States citizens a top preference and priority, he saw that it was best to eliminate the Al Qaeda leader, Bin Laden who was a big threat (Schwartz 2016). He also saw that killing Bin Laden was valuable to the economy of the country since by eliminating the imminent threat it would enable the country to stay peacefully and focus on economic development of the country (Mahler 2015). In a situation that a country is faced by a continuing imminent threat to its citizens, it is justifiable to use lethal force to neutralize the threat. Since it was evident that Bin Laden was a continuing imminent threat to the United States, this qualifies to be one of the reasons that made Barack Obama to make a decision to kill Bin Laden (Bronstein 2013). To add on it, Barack Obama being the president was responsible for the safety of the United States citizen. Therefore, killing Bin Laden as self-defense for the United States was the best and justified approach that ultimately brought peace and safety in the United States.

Cost saving

Using thick rationality, Barack Obama wanted to minimize the economic cost that was being spent on military warfare against the Al Qaeda. He took into consideration the preference of saving a lot of money that was being used to fund the never-ending war against Al Qaeda terrorist which lasted for a long time without being effective. Despite sending American troops to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States was still being attacked while a lot of money was being used to fund the war and also the United States was losing a lot of its military personnel (Schwartz 2016). In fact, the military warfare strategy which had persisted for a long time was ineffective and was very costly to the country. It had drained a lot of economic resources funding the warfare against the Al Qaeda. The sunk cost fallacy is evident in the option that Obama preferred that it was more important to kill Bin Laden because they had lost several soldier and also spent a lot of money in the war at Afghanistan than they would suppose they lives had not been lost or spent any sum of money. Obama saw the need for maximizing value by using a different strategy that would cut the cost of economic funding and which would bring immediate effect which is a long-lasting peace free from terrorist attack. Obama was more concern about changing the game plan and use an effective and immediate strategy that was cost-effective so that other funds can be diverted to other development purposes of the country (Schaller 2015, 204). More specifically, he wanted a huge amount of the resources to be channeled into the Obamacare health program. This is a health program which he initiated to improve the health and also minimize the cost of health services for everyone in the country.


To sum it all, the above-mentioned factors are some of the reasons that made Obama decide to kill Obama. Some are primary reasons while some are secondary reasons. It is evident most of the reasons that made Obama kill Bin Laden were primarily aimed at securing his political career to raise his approval rate for re-election while some were for the interest of the Americans.