By now everyone who does not permanently reside beneath a rock has learned of the long-overdue demise of one Osama bin Laden. I am not sure if it is healthy to revel in the violent death of another (alleged) human being – but I have to say, I am quite comfortable with it.
If the early reports are correct, OBL seems to have died in the same cowardly fashion that he lived – in posh (relative to the region) living quarters rather than the rugged Hindu Kush mountains and caves, hiding behind a woman in Pakistan rather than leading his “martyrs” on the battlefield in Afghanistan. As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steve Coll points implies in his book Ghost Wars (a highly recommended read incidentally), this has been the story on OBL since his days during the Soviet invasion/occupation of Afghanistan. His hypocritically fictitious persona served him quite well over the years when it came to recruiting poor, uneducated, and otherwise impressionable young men to die for a bogus cause, but in the end there was no one there to take responsibility for his deeds but himself. Poetic justice at its finest, to be sure.
While the wider war continues as al-Qaeda still functions, the symbolism represented by this evil man’s violent end is undeniably delicious. One man’s death certainly does not balance out the thousands of American lives that have been lost over the years but I cannot help but think that some degree of justice has nonetheless been obtained. I only hope it provides some measure of comfort for the families and friends of the fallen – civilian and soldier alike. But the mission is not complete, certainly. Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations still wish to do us harm in general, and Mullah Omar and Ayman al-Zawahiri in particular must be held accountable as well.
In the meantime, I ask that we remember what makes America great – freedom, prosperity, and self-determinism, the very things that OBL and his followers sought to destroy – and embrace and protect those things so as to present a principled counterpoise to the tyrannically radical Islamism espoused by others like him. Remember that terrorism is merely a methodology; it is the ideology which sits at the root of and inspires this tactic that must be destroyed. To do this, we must combat the evil with an equally compelling yet diametric message in order to truly eliminate it beyond foreign battlefields.