No writing accomplished today because my day started off at 0114 (got a text roughly half an hour later confirming what the rest of the world undoubtedly knows by now) with an email. I am glad I kept some ties to friends in the military, as I had a double-confirmation about the death of Osama Bin Laden by 0200. Went back to sleep and, upon waking up, thought it was a dream until I had another confirmation. Three independent confirmations means that the old boy is well and truly dead and this isn’t some PR wash job by the media or government. Some thoughts on the matter:
First, Bravo Zulu to SEAL Team Six, the intelligence communities who worked together on this and all the governments who worked this out to complete the mission. This is not a “soft” target like some would believe, considering that the United States has missed him on multiple occasions. I’ve seen a pic confirming his identity (not including the DNA tests and recognition software the military used) and, outside of more hair on his head than I expected (though, given the luxurious life he had lived for almost a year in a major Pakistani city, not unreasonable), there are too many points of recognition upon his face to believe that this is a cleverly created look-alike. Outside of him cloning himself or having an identical twin brother (and even then there would be slight differences), this is the person we’ve been looking for since September 11, 2001.
Secondly, I have to hand it to President Obama and former President Bush. They both have drawn a lot of heat for continuing “unpopular” wars in an effort to rid ourselves of dogs like bin Laden. Obama will take the (deserved) credit for taking down Bin Laden, but don’t overlook what Bush did to get this. If what I hear is correct, links to the trail of bin Laden started in the prison cells of Guantanamo Bay, a place where many said we were merely holding innocent victims of war and not individuals with terrorist connections. A place that Bush started, despite the outcry by his enemies in Congress and the public.
Next, now that we have the man that has been on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for almost ten years, we cannot abandon the progress we’ve made in the Middle East. Pakistan looks to be very culpable in their inability to “find” bin Laden all these years, and though a regime change in a nuclear-armed country isn’t a great idea, cutting off aid (which totals in the billions) would be a good first step. This also reminds said fugitives that while you may run from the Americans, eventually we will catch up to you and it will not end well.
Lastly, they’re going to try and retaliate. It’s not going to be next week, but more likely in 3-6 months. This blow was unexpected to al-Qaeda, though they reportedly had contingencies for this to happen. However, a massive power vacuum has formed and I don’t doubt for a second that someone not named al-Zawhiri will make a move on the leadership. But retaliation will happen, though not with the fury that you might expect. These will be more Times Square car bombing attempts, more people like Maj. Hasan and the attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid. They will be small acts to terrorize the populace and not full-scale acts of war on a nation. They cannot afford to do this anymore.
But today is a good day, and while I don’t generally celebrate the death of a man, I will celebrate this one.