I, for one, celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden. He was a pox, a barnacle, a cancer dragging the national psyche into a continuous cycle of fear and hatred. He was a face of national failure. He hit us, he lead us into two wars, and he was still out there, somewhere, lurking. Now we, as an entire people, get closure.
Closure is for everyone. The Middle East can move on. Instead of bin Laden, the face of the Middle East are kids in Tahrir Square bringing down Mubarak or the hideous struggle for freedom in Syria where more are being mowed down by Bashir al Assad’s thugs. Instead of terrorism and drugs and guns and fundamentalism, it’s Democracy. OBL was a tool for dictators to justify the repression of their people. Now he’s gone.
The US needed it, too. A clean break. A victory that feels like a clean victory. And a US-style testosterone laden victory at that. We didn’t use foreign troops or bombs. We sent in Navy SEALS and shot OBL in the head. Movies, television shows, books, video games to follow. After market crash and terrible recession and crazy stupidity and no one feeling good about anything, we needed this.
I disagree that this will dissipate and fade with the next news cycle, too. This is the stuff of mythology. A bad guy, a detective story, a multi-month hunt, a tense President giving the order, brave guys with guns and helicopters flying in the middle of the night, a dramatic firefight. This isn’t reality, this is narrative. Narrative is sticky. The story presses all the little Man with a Thousand Faces buttons.
What have we learned?
- Human intelligence is crucial. Guys on the ground talking to people are infinitely more useful than hoovering up unlimited data and trying to sift through it. The police state is not very effective in finding a guy living in an Islamabad suburb. Who would have thought?
- Quality security is infinitely better than quantity security.
- Torture doesn’t work. All the information gleaned that lead to Osama bin Laden came from — shock — standard interrogation techniques. Torture as a method for extracting information should be outlawed. Period.
- Terrorism is a police action, and terrorism is a crime. Sure it took the CIA and the Navy SEALS to take OBL out, but most of the run up was hard-core detective work. Maybe next time the US won’t go randomly invading countries.
- Again, terrorism is a crime. OBL was a criminal. He murdered people.
- Barack Obama has nerves of steel. Man. When he said he had better things to do than mess with his long form birth certificate, the man was not kidding.
- Our guys are flat-out awesome. *wave little flag*
- We need to start really talking about the role of the crazy security industrial complex. Want to find things to cut in the budget? I have some interesting ideas!
So yay. Rock. I’m all for moving past OBL forever and ever and seeing what Egypt and Tunisia and the other countries are going to do in a post-OBL world where the world moves on.