Monday, May 2, 2011

After the Death of Osama bin Laden, Now What?

It took two presidents, billions of taxpayer's dollars, and nearly ten years after a national tragedy, but citizens the world over can now sleep a little easier knowing this for a fact. Osama bin Laden, the mastermind terrorist who claimed responsibility for organizing the September 11 attacks on the United States and several other acts of mass violence, was shot and killed by U.S. forces in the early morning hours of May 2, 2011.

Upon confirmation, President Barack Obama made an unexpected announcement to a captive audience late Sunday night that altered the course of human history. His speech affirmed that one of the world's most wanted men was deceased, lauding both the efforts of the Navy SEALs team and the Central Intelligence Agency that lead to bin Laden's ultimate demise. Obama also called his death the greatest victory for the U.S. against al-Qaeda, a militant Islamic organization founded by bin Laden in the late 1980s.

Within 24 hours, patriotic fervor escalated to levels not seen since the days, weeks, and months after 9/11. A Sunday night baseball game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, telecast by ESPN, saw fans chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" in the top of the ninth inning shortly after the President's statement. Crowds gathered around the White House and Ground Zero to celebrate bin Laden's death. New York radio stations began playing pro-American songs on a loop. Even a Facebook page that "liked" Osama Bin Laden Being Dead managed over 57,000 thumbs up, as of this posting.

Headlines, no doubt, have been short and sweet. The Daily News in New York City read "Rot In Hell". Others resorted to a four letter word to describe bin Laden. All of a sudden, talk of the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton these past few days has been relegated to the back pages and those who think a future successor to the British throne is more important than the (former) face of a global terrorist regime.

Huh? What wedding? My thoughts exactly.

As such, it's easy to get swept away in chauvanistic fanfare now that bin Laden is dead. (A DNA analysis confirmed this.) But in his absence, uncertainty still remains.

To begin, the War on Terror is not over. Just because the leader of a terrorist organization was killed in gunfire does not mean this. For as long as people are willing to resort to violence, as long as people don't care who they harm, as long as people seek retribution, evil will exist. There's no way around that. But that doesn't mean evil will ultimately triumph. It simply means that terrorism is all in vain, for the true "War" will be won at the end of time. Anything that happens from this point onward is just another wrinkle in the fold.

There's also no telling how volatile bin Laden's followers will react. Perhaps one of the biggest lies we've been fed by the media is that Islam is a religion of peace. It's not. Sure, militant Muslims give law-abiding Muslims a bad name, but there's some truth to the former's destructive habits that are characteristic of the whole sect. How can anyone claim to be an ambassador of peace, acknowledge that their own religion has an organization that kills many innocent civilians, and do it all with a straight face? I'm surprised that Muslims from every walk of life haven't declared jihad on themselves, since their actions are antithetical to their teachings. And if not, watch your step in busy crowds.

Furthermore, bin Laden's death has interesting ramifications for the U.S. government. I'd be hard-pressed to find any American, left or right, who isn't proud of the events that had transpired. After all, one of the most dangerous threats to society is gone forever. And in death, bin Laden will join the ranks of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Saddam Hussein, among others, as nefarious world figures who find no solace following the devastation they wrought onto the world. There's also the positive press that's bound to follow President Obama now through the end of his (first) term. He's the one that gave the direct order to siege bin Laden's hideout in a multi-million dollar mansion in Pakistan, of all places. The success of that raid practically guarantees his reputation as a respectable leader, and it makes him a foreign policy genius for the time being. I also like the move to strengthen Obama's re-election campaign for 2012. It's clearly not enough to sway voters to trust in him a second time around, but its one more reason to prove he's not a fluke.

Let's see. Passed a stimulus bill that kept this country from going under following Bush's presidency? Check. Passed health care reform so all Americans can no longer suffer? Check. Passed along the news that a longtime face of terrorism is no more? Super check!

And while I'm here, can we please, please, please get out of the Middle East now? Hussein is dead, and so is bin Laden. We have nothing more to prove. Democracy is slowly getting established there, which was the main objective initially, and our troops are better off protecting their homeland instead of some town halfway across the world they can't even pronounce. So much money is going over there that can stay here, it would really slim down the amount of debt the U.S. carries ($14,343,970,000,000 and rising). Look, I support our troops as much as any other rational American, but at what point does the method outweigh the madness?

If not then, then definitely now.

In the post-Osama bin Laden era, we must brace ourselves for future attacks on all that the United States of America supports more than ever. We may not be able to prevent every act of violence perpetrated against us, but we can certainly give them a taste of their own medicine. To quote President Obama, "Justice has been done." Never forget it. We're that resilient.

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