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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama bin Laden

We've gone through a complete news cycle since the first announcement that the US had finally captured and killed Osama bin Laden. Social media and the news media are all full of the partisan comments and attacks we've come to expect, but its encouraging that there was also a heightened sense of positivity and civility. I waited 24 hours to say anything just to be a little more thoughtful in what I say.

  1. Does the death of OBL change anything? Not really. Most of the Arab world considers OBL's death to have taken place during the revolution in Tunisia in a strictly political sense. OBL's power as a political figure in the Middle East ended when the street revolutions began. As Americans we need to understand that OBL derived his power from hatred among the people for the despots our government backed.
  2. Our human need for revenge was somewhat fulfilled by bin Laden's death, especially here in the New York metropolitan area, but it was also dimmed by lack of visual evidence.
  3. My first thought was to be cynical and assume the government was lying since there was no visual evidence, but after thinking about it, the US really had no choice but to withhold photographs and video because of our irrational fear of pissing off people who spend their lives being pissed off. The radical wing of Islam would simply use the pictures and video to inflame masses of people who operate on ignorance first.
  4. Did OBL get killed on President Obama's watch and does Obama get to take credit for the operation? Yes.
  5. Does George Bush get to share in the credit because of decisions made during his presidency? Yes.
  6. Should President Obama show some grace and gratitude to Bush? Yes. Did he? Surprisingly more than I would have expected even though the Angry Right in this country will never admit to it.
  7. Is the Angry Left entitled to gloat a bit? Yes, but gloating makes them all hypocrites so they should be careful of that.
  8. Will there be reprisals? Probably, but we're all worried about it and after all, isn't that the point of terrorism?
  9. Should we get out of Afghanistan now? Yes, absolutely, but OBL's death has nothing to do with that.
  10. Why did we bury him at sea so quickly? No country was going to accept his body, and even if someone did accept it, the last thing we would want is to unwittingly build a shrine to a martyr. We deprived the radicals in the Islamic world a chance to turn this into something even more dangerous.
I guess it was a good day for America in some sense, and I applaud Obama's handling of the situation, but let's not get carried away. We are still living in a dangerous world, and we still have a government that does foreign policy like a squirrel crosses the street at rush hour.

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