There’s nothing I can offer on the death of Osama bin Laden that pundits and experts everywhere have not already covered. Quite possibly the world’s most wanted fugitive has finally met his end. For as brutal as the September 11th attacks were, I hesitate to use the word “justice” because rarely does killing justify killing. Certainly this makes OBL a martyr and will inspire scores of future jihadist fighters to commit all manner of atrocities in the name of revenge and carrying on the mantle of their dead hero. At the very least, one of his children is sure to emerge and pick up the fight.
But I would be lying if I did not admit a certain satisfaction that he is dead; that the United States patiently and methodically carried out a plan to find and kill him. For what it’s worth, I applaud the administration’s decision to confirm the death and dispose of the body in such a way that it can’t be used for propaganda purposes – on either side.
Ironic, though: it was on the same day in 2003 George W. Bush stood on an aircraft carrier off the coast of California to say major military operations in Iraq were over. That was the infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech. Think about that for a moment.
Apparently as the raid was happening, Seth Meyer was making jokes at the annual Correspondent’s Dinner about OBL having his own C-SPAN channel. Obama and members of his team that were present and knew about the raid coolly laughed it off.
So ten years on and the mastermind was finally caught. Does this change the day-to-day battle for Afghanistan? No. Is Iraq any safer? Hardly. And, I would argue, our reputation in the region is not improving. The one saving grace we might have is that the current oval office occupant is not the same guy who started these wars.
However, we do have a great opportunity to turn things around drastically. The one objective we’ve failed to accomplish time and again is providing meaningful aid in Afghanistan, the kind that doesn’t come solely from the barrel of a gun. If anything truly good and lasting comes from OBL’s death, the United States should dedicate itself to making it that. It will be ugly, long, costly, mess, circuitous, and dangerous. But so was rebuilding Europe and providing South Korea the top cover to build itself up while surrounded by less-than-hospitable neighbors. Let’s hope that’s what comes from this.