Monday, May 2, 2011

My thoughts on the death of Osama Bin Laden

5/1/2011: The president of the United States comes up to the podium and announces that United States military forces, stormed a compound in Pakistan and killed Osama Bin Laden and took possession of the body which was confirmed as Osama Bin Laden.

We are close to the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States in New York and Washington. (I put flight 93 under the Washington column, but that's a topic for another day). Within days after September 11th, Osama Bin Laden was pointed too as the leader of Al Qaeda and the person who ok'd the September 11th attacks. It was the first time the average American became aware of who Osama Bin Laden was or Al Qaeda for that matter.

Over the course of the next 9 years, we put a 25 million dollar bounty on his head, had rumors of close captures (Tora Bora), and a variety of other news related stories, but we failed to capture or kill him during that time.

I'm very happy that the US Military was finally able to kill Osama Bin Laden. The fact that they recovered his body and did it with troops on the ground is also a testament to an understanding that PR was as important in this case as was the mission itself. It's the best scenario the US Military could have hoped for outside of killing him in the same manner 6 months after the September 11th attacks.

I'm watching the news coverage and I see a huge crowd outside of the White House celebrating the news and I'm a bit concerned. Osama Bin Laden was a face of terrorism, but a large part of him being that face was due to the American Government's interest in him, in many senses we assisted in creating this 'legend' of sorts. (I won't go into the details of Bin Laden being trained by American forces for the guerrilla fights in Soviet occupied Afghanistan). My concern is that the average American thinks of this as a bigger victory then it is. This isn't like killing a leader of a nation or ending a war with atomic bombs (like Japan and WWII). Al Qaeda itself is a loose based organization that takes direction from different people, Bin Laden just happened to be their most famous member. My fear is the average American doesn't realize this and thinks something has ended.

It hasn't, while it's a victory for sides against terrorism, it doesn't stop it and might even provoke more acts of terrorism in retaliation. Maybe I'm just difficult to please. Maybe it's the fact that I feel like we as Americans don't pay enough attention to things like this before they happen in a situation like September 11th. The fact that the US Cole attacks were associated with Al Qaeda, the previous World Trade Center attempted attacks were Al Qaeda driven, or the fact that Osama Bin Laden was fairly infamous already before the 9/11 attacks. (President Clinton authorized at least one missle attack against a compound where they believed Osama Bin Laden was).

As I said, maybe it's just me over worrying things, it wouldn't be the first time I did something like that, but there's something about seeing people jump up and down outside of the White House like WWII just ended that sits wrong with me. I feel like there is too high a possibility that in the days that follow they are ultimately going to be disappointed as in the scheme of things, I don't think this is going to have a big impact on terrorism, Al Qaeda, or any other terrorist organization. I hope I'm wrong in this case.

I'm happy about the news, and I'm glad other Americans are happy too, a lot of things over the past couple years are directly and indirectly related to that day, so it is nice to have something to 'celebrate', I just don't hope people realize that this is only a small part of things that still need to be done (in relation to terrorism, I really hope they know the other things need a lot more work)

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