Many Americans will remember where they were when they heard the news that Osama bin Laden was killed in the special ops strike ordered by President Barack Obama and carried out by Navy Seals the same way many remember where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor, JFK’s assassination and 911. It closed one chapter – but not the book…
The next chapter’s shape isn’t known yet but bin Laden’s death won’t prove a magic wand, although it does alter some landscapes.
The monumental military operation that ended bin Laden’s career will be studied for generations. Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda is Murder Incorporated using religious rhetoric. But unlike Murder Incorporated bin Laden had no problem butchering innocent men, woman and children to increase the body count he sorely needed to spread terror. He also thrust the world into a shocking period where unspeakable beheadings of Al Qaeda’s or affiliated groups’ prisoners were posted in obscenely graphic Internet videos. Negative reaction in the Arab world reportedly halted this series of terrorist-produced snuff films.
But a sea change? The main sea change was the loud splash as bin Laden’s body was hurled into the ocean.
There was an initial consensus by most in both parties that getting rid of bin Laden was a huge victory for the country and for Obama. But within 24 hours chants of “USA! USA!” were soon replaced by partisan chants.
Political-point-seeking partisans can’t come to grips with the role administrations of BOTH political parties played in the negligence that led to thousands dying on 911 and the success that lead to bin Laden now sleeping with the fishes.
Both parties mishandled pre-911 intelligence on Al Qaeda. And, yes, Democrats, George Bush did do some groundwork that permitted Obama’s operation. And, yes, Republicans, Obama’s steely decisions on how it was carried out, his not waiting when he sensed an opportunity and his willingness to take a huge risk is indeed why bin Laden was killed.
Many liberals gleefully noted that bin Laden was killed with Obama in control. Many Republicans made it sound as if Obama quickly signed a document and George W. Bush did 99 percent of the work. The most reprehensible partisan statement came from Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips who said bin Laden was killed in spite of Obama. Several commentators and radio talk show callers a)suggested the body at the bottom of the sea might not be bin Laden’s b)implied this was an Obama ploy to boost re-election. This theory was even too nutty for Donald Trump.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.