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May 2, 2011
A symbolic death with great meaning (updated)
What does the death of Osama bin Laden mean? A few quick thoughts:
1. Al-Qaeda has been on the ropes for years. First President Bush, then President Obama pulverized their leadership, forced them to communicate by courier, smashed cell after cell in cities around the world, strangled their financing, and because al-Qaeda killed more Muslims than westerners, the terrorists lost the PR war in the Muslim community. Al-Qaeda was a shadow of an organization before bin Laden's death and morale will now sink even lower for them.
2. Does this mean that Osama bin Laden's death is meaningless? Far from it. It gives the US military a massive shot in the arm for one thing. Not that morale was a big problem, but even professionals like good news. His death will also boost the morale of our professionals in intelligence. What a fabulous piece of work! And it will give a big psychological boost to the American people. In my FrontPage.com article this morning, I point out that bin Laden's death couldn't have come at a better time:
At a time of economic despair and uncertainty, a time of doubting our abilities to overcome obstacles and questioning our national greatness, the death of Osama bin Laden temporarily, at least, has lifted nation's spirits and reminded us who we are and of what we are capable.3. Al-Qaeda prestige - such as it was - has suffered a blow from which it may not recover. Bin Laden was the face of terrorism and al-Qaeda and the organization will be hard put to replace him. Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama's deputy, does not have the charisma or the stature of his now dead boss.
4. Political fallout? President Obama will get an immediate boost but even the left knows it will be transitory. In 1980 after the US defeated the Soviet Union in hockey and went on to win the Gold medal, Jimmy Carter tried to bask in some reflected glory of the moment. It didn't work for him and I doubt it will work for Obama.
Update -- J.R. Dunn adds:
In 2001, I worked about five blocks away from the WTC site, on Water Street a block up from Wall Street. For months after 9/11 I would walk up Fayette Street to get to the subway station (the downtown subways were all knocked out; you had a half-mile uptown to reach a different line.)
At the west end of Fayette the stump of the South Tower was clearly visible, framed by the buildings on either side, still spewing smoke even months afterward. You could smell the stink of burning from a mile off.
I don't think I ever walked Fayette during those months without thinking, "One of these days... One of these days we'll get that son of a bitch."
It's been a long time, and the South Tower is gone, and I don't work in Manhattan anymore. But last night I drifted back, just long enough to smell the smoke, and to see that blackened hulk once again, and to say three words:
"We got him."
Update -- Steve McCann writes:
It is always cathartic news when an evil man is brought to justice at the end of a rifle or the receiving end of a bomb. But with that euphoria there needs to be a sense of reality. After ten years of being the subject of a relentless international manhunt, Osama Bin Laden was no more than the figurehead of the Al Qaeda movement and radical Islam. The Jihadist movement thrives and immortalizes its martyrs--they now have an icon and the ultimate martyr for the cause, a rallying figurehead of phenomenal proportions. As Bin Laden went down with a fight and had eluded the great Satan for decades as well as achieving the most destructive attack on the American mainland by a foreign entity in history his legacy is firmly rooted in radical jihadist folklore.
Further America accomplished this martyrdom on the soil of an Islamist country already beset with its own conflict with radicalism, Pakistan will now threatened with open revolt for this action. The level of determination to exact revenge on America for this deed will play out over the next two years. However with the turmoil in Egypt (about to be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood), Yemen and its near takeover by Al Qaeda sympathizers, Libya and its current stalemate with radical elements in the rebel forces and Iran determined to be the hegemonic power in the region, the Middle East is not the Middle East of two years ago. The entire region has become a tinderbox akin to the Balkans in 1914.
So, while America rejoices in the death of a truly evil man, we should understand the potential consequences and ask ourselves: do we have the leadership at the helm that can successfully navigate the violent seas upon which the country finds itself? Will this action together with a world situation made worse by America's feckless foreign policy result in the an uncontrolled slide into open warfare and conflict? The future has become more filled with the dark clouds of uncertainty.