Point of View Columns

The Death of Osama bin Laden

We can be sure that when he woke up this past Sunday, Osama bin Laden probably did not know that he had less than 24 hours to live. Of course, only the denizens of death row know the appointed time of their departure, but he had to know that he had been living on borrowed time ever since 9/11.

When President Obama announced that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden on Sunday evening, the news was met with spontaneous demonstrations of joy and rejoicing throughout the country. The villain who had successfully plotted the deaths of thousands of Americans had received justice and everyone likes it when the good guys win every once in awhile.

I am hopeful that the death of Bin Laden and the manner in which he was killed will also occasion some thought and reflection after the celebration. We have to remember that during the ten years after the 9/11 debacle in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington billions of dollars and thousands and lives have been wasted on missteps and misinformation.

American troops went into Afghanistan with no clear mission other than to avenge 9/11 and in the process Bin Laden and many of his cohorts slithered away. And a decade later over 100,000 American troops are mired in the muck of a war in Afghanistan trying to do subdue or pacify a country and a people that have defied the best efforts of Alexander the Great, the Scythians, the British Empire and the Soviet Union.

During the past decade billions of dollars and thousands of lives were lost in Iraq pursuing the Great Lie of weapons of mass destruction foisted upon America and the world by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell. In the process of losing blood and treasure and capturing Saddam Hussein, a despot who seemed to prefer pornography to plots against the United States, Osama bin Laden continued to inspire plots against this country and its people.

With the death of Bin Laden it is time to revisit the policies that gave him a decade of borrowed time while wasting American lives and treasure. These policies assumed that traditional war strategies would work against an enemy that has no country, no standing army and no permanent base or location.

Bin Laden is not dead because of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He is dead because a strike team of less than 30 operatives killed him in Pakistan in less than forty minutes. There is a lesson to be learned from this.

Trying to attack Al Qaeda and its affiliates with huge commitments of troops and weapons is akin to trying to kill a mosquito with a shotgun. It is possible that the mosquito will eventually get hit but that strategy is guaranteed to cause untold collateral damage.

More focused and more surgical missions – missions with a purpose – make sense. More troops stationed in morass after morass does not make sense. And the death of Osama bin Laden gives President Obama an opportunity to flip the script.

President Obama can take this occasion to order a complete review and revision of U.S. military policy with the goal of withdrawing almost all military personnel from Afghanistan and Iraq. Remaining military operatives would be engaged in covert and discrete missions that have the clear purpose of capturing or killing individuals who are responsible for planning or committing acts of terrorism aimed at the United States.

The death of Bin Laden offers the perfect opportunity to quit the morass and walk on the solid ground of common sense. And the reward for returning to a sustainable reality will be saved lives, a healing economy and the first steps towards some sense of real national security.

Finally, it is interesting to note that on April 29th, at the time that the White House was releasing President Obama’s birth certificate to quell the braying of Lilliputians like Trump and Palin, President Obama was giving the final order to kill Osama bin Laden. Clearly he can walk and chew gum at the same time.

The events of the past few days offer a pure and clear contrast. There is President Obama focused on critical global and domestic issues, from the killing of Osama bin Laden to ordering federal aid to tornado victims in Alabama. And then there is Doubting Donald, the hustling huckster, working himself into frenzy over birth certificates and college transcripts, as if anything he might say was of any value or import.

The death of Osama bin Laden accomplished a lot.

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8 thoughts on “The Death of Osama bin Laden

  1. Dianeu says:

    Good morning,

    I enjoy reading your inspiring works.

    This is a defining moment in our country today… one that President Obama should seize to launch a bold, over-arching political strategy that starts with (1) ending all foreign military engagements (declare victory in Afghanistan and other occupied territories), (2) launching new educational and jobs growth initiates to bolster the economy and create a path for national academic excellence, (3) implementing state-by-state infrastructure development programs, (4) overhauling the tax code to eliminate subsidies, (5) revamping the Affordable Health Care Act, by including the public option, (6) demanding Pentagon accountability to eliminate the $Billions in annual fraudulent payments to contractors, and (8) initiating campaign finance reform including an amendment to overturn Citizens United. President Obama should speak directly to the public and conduct a series of national “fire-side” chats.

    In short, in pursuing these measures, the president will likely not assume further political risks (in terms of 2012)….and I believe that the overwhelming majority of the American people will be supportive.

  2. Well put. This victory will hopefully give Obama the leverage to bring common sense back to American foreign policy. This operation also gives new perspective to his handling of the birther issue last week. By dealing with his biggest credibility issue before the strike, he created some insulation in case things went wrong. Trump may have been a factor but not as much as he thought. In any event, millions of Americans got a chance to see (via online video) Obama’s verbal airstrikes on Trump the night before at the White House Correspondents Dinner, all while thoroughly enjoying himself. Put into context a day later, we saw a President who never tipped his hand even in the midst of the defining military operation of his presidency.

    And while the mission was superbly planned and executed, a little serendipity never hurts. The fact that the coverage of his announcement pre-empted Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” was a great stroke of luck, and one GOP strategist commented on feeling like it was “over for Trump” when his show got interrupted by events from “the real world”.

  3. samuel cooper says:

    Great commentary. I agree with you 95%, however a weapon of mass destruction can occupy the space of a 16 oz. Pepsi bottle. Such weapons exist in Iraq, other parts of the region, and other parts of the world and are close to impossible to detect.
    Keep up the good work.
    Sam Cooper

  4. Leonard says:

    As we look for ways to cut cost for unwinnable conflicts in the Middle East, we should start by firing the former Blackwater Inc from Afghanistan and Iraq. Now that Bin Laden is dead, Hallerburton does not need protection from insurgents threatening their interests.
    We also have an opportunity to bring our troops home in both Iraq and Afghanistan and use the treasure for job creation, education and strengthening the economy of the USA. The idea of using Special Forces to track and kill the worst of our enemies had been offered and rejected by the Right as far back the failed mission in Iran by President Carter.
    Yet Israel and the US could have partnered their Special Force units in the Middle East and taken out our combined enemies. The GOP did not and still do not want Democrats to get credit for finding and eliminating the worst murderer in modern history.
    President Obama’s recent leadership demonstrated his ability to smoothly multitask which should force the GOP to revisit changes to Medcare, Medicaid ans Social Security.
    We the people should encourage our politicians (Democrats) to fight to tax the wealthy supporting the President’s position.

  5. vmm says:

    your accomplished words speak volumes. they are honest and, hopefully, will put to rest (although i doubt it very much) all those “doubting-Thomases” that continue to question this administration’s policies and actions. we are at a very pivital point in this nation. i am not suggesting we embrace all of Barack Obama’s decisions but, for God’s sake, let us take him seriously.

  6. Kay says:

    This guy was a disaster he caused a lot of death and suffering to so many people.I remember seing bombed buildings as well as human beings killed in Tanzania,Kenya during the late 90s.
    I enjoy your writings sir.

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