Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama bin Laden dead: So now we can end all our wars?

To ask the question is to answer it. And if I didn't already know the answer, Lara Logan was on CBS a few minutes after I heard the news Sunday evening assuring us that the War on Terror was "by no means" over.

This is President Obama's announcement speech from late Sunday: [this video from the White House shows as no longer available; the White House YouTube channel and it says the embedding is being disabled by request. What the heck is going on?]

[So here's the PBS Newshour version instead:]

This is a biographical sketch of Bin Laden from Aljazeera English:

We're spending more today in real terms for the military than we did at the height of the Cold War. The justification has been "Al Qa'ida" and The Terrorists. But it's been apparent for a while that Bin Laden's own Al Qa'ida organization as it existed in 2001 has not been operative for a long time. Bin Laden was obviously an important target because of his responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. But his importance as a terrorist mastermind on an ongoing basis has probably been minimal.

Former State Department spokesman PJ Crowley tweeted, "Does #binLaden's death matter? There are franchises around the world, but he was a major unifying force. The movement now lacks a center."

A center of sort for jihadists, maybe. But the current movement against the Arab dictatorships took little inspiration from Bin Laden or the jihadists, based on what we've seen so far.

It's good for the reputation of the US that Bin Laden was caught dead rather than alive. It would have been great if he had been captured, brought to America to stand trial and convicted in a civilian court under the American justice system. But this Administration would have been unlikely to deal with him that way. They would probably have sent him to Guantanamo and waited years to give him a military commissions trial, or just keep him in prison permanently. That would have made him more of a martyr to jihadists than his death in battle will.


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