I thought I’d record my immediate reaction to learning that Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. Over the next few days, lots of analysts will dissect things and will probably impact my views. It will be fun to look back years later to review my initial thoughts.
Al Qaeda and terrorists in general are so loosely organized that it will have a small impact to National security. There will always be new terrorists motivated by all sorts of factors to take the place of those that are killed.
This is, however, a huge lift for the National psyche. The decade since 9/11 has been very tough with frustrating wars, recessions, and more political strife than normal. I like that on the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade center, there won’t be a cloud hanging over memorial activities that the country was not able to capture Al Qaeda’s leader.
The U.S. will start being tougher with Pakistan at this time. They have had to walk a thin line. Pakistani cooperation has been necessary to help U.S. operations inside the country to allow the killing of Bin Laden in the first place. However, the Pakistani government has also been soft on Islamic extremists working within its borders.
There is a growing crowd gathering outside the White House. Within a couple of hours of the announcement, thousands are standing on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House gates. Lots of them are college students, who were probably only eight to ten years old during. There’s also a growing crowd gathering at ground zero.
This will be a big political boost for the President. The capture together with the improving economy, continuing withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and impending withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will all make a powerful political statement for Obama in the next 18 months of campaigning that he will do. I think there will be a lot of pressure to get out of Afghanistan now since the public is tired of war.
The American intelligence community as well as special forces of the Navy are looking very good. A small helicopter crew took forty minutes to descend into a heavily fortified compound and killed Bin Laden along with three associates without suffering any casualties.
Lastly, though it’s a very happy occasion, it’s hard not to think of the price that continues to be paid in the fight against terrorism. Besides the 3000 casualties on 9/11, the U.S. has lost more than 6,000 servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our debt level is at historical highs in part because of the trillions of dollars spent on defense in recent years.