Monday, May 2, 2011

You can run on for a long time...

Justice was a long time coming for Osama bin Laden, but when it came, it came swift and hard, at the hands of elite special operations forces.

It appears that the U.S. put together a nearly perfect operation, following a fragment of intel for years until it paid off with the killing of a mass murderer who sent the world reeling with the most spectacular terrorist attacks in history. (Somehow, it matters a lot that this was done in a toe-to-toe fight, not by an impersonal Hellfire missile strike from a drone. It matters that he knew he was going down.).

As President Obama stated, justice has been served.

It’s probably true that the death of Osama bin Laden is not terribly strategically significant. The strategic picture has shifted over the past decade and most experts doubt that he had much more than a symbolic role to play for most of that decade. Nonetheless, symbols are tremendously important in the psychology of war, especially of the asymmetric kind — and this is a significant symbolic victory, if nothing else.

It’s also true that the execution of a murderer cannot fill the hole left by the deaths he caused. Yet it it is no cold comfort. A thirst for a balancing of the scales, however incomplete, is part of what makes us human. We have an innate, intuitive sense of justice and retribution and there is, for most at any rate, a deep sense of satisfaction in closing the circle, in seeing the man who sowed the wind reap the whirlwind.

The U.S. has taken many a misstep in the war Osama bin Laden declared in 1996, missteps that compromised very real successes in dismantling al Qaeda’s capabilities. We will continue to struggle to extract ourselves from the mire of Iraq and Afghanistan and it is axiomatic that terrorism will always remain a threat.

But in the action of May 1, 2011, the United States — and the civilized world — won a victory worth celebrating. As a friend put it: There’s so many things that we do wrong, so many things that we can do better, but this — this was perfect.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. Jim,

    The operation, and the results were indeed "perfect" in many regards. The long reach, and the long time frame send a very clear message to those in command of terrorist organizations. The very fact that the USA is willing to commit those kinds of combined resources, over that much time, and to have the spine to authorize a kill mission should get quite a few of those in the Al Qaeda command chain puckered up.

    I don't think that most of them have quite the "thirst for martyrdom" that their propaganda would like for us (and their rank-and-file) to believe. The realization that they can be capped, cleaned, and consigned to the briny deep in a matter of hours should have a profound, lasting psychological impact. The face-to-face, boots on the ground, shoot you in the head approach made this operation very personal.

    Bravo for all of those involved in the intelligence community work, and especially to SEAL Team Six and their support teams.


  2. Kudos and great thanks to the U.S. Joint Special Operations forces who brought OBL to justice.

    The best aviators in the world (Army SOAR 160), the best light infantry in the world (Army Rangers), the best shooters in the world (those handpicked for this mission from the Navy SEAL CT community), the best planners and logistics and support personnel from all the Services.

    And a host of others who we will never learn of who prefer it that way.

    It was a team effort in all respects and the result was, as seen before in Iraq when the 101st ABN and DELTA took out Saddam's two sons in Mosul, one more mass murderer put down hard.

    De Oppresso Liber -

  3. Thank you to President Obama for leading and getting the job done. America is safer now.

  4. Thank you Presidents Clinton, Bush/Bush/Obama for getting the job done - remember, it takes a end with a burial at sea.

    Greater thanks to all the women and men of the Armed Services who have been injured, wounded or become ill over the past many years the war on terrorism has dragged on. Their sacrifices, courage, pain, frustration, tears, victories, and endurance outdistances any of those Presidents mentioned.

  5. come on me a pessimist but after the search for weapons of mass destruction I am more than a little cynical about what is being called by Pakistanis as an illegal unauthorized assassination with no trial, and the current timing of the presidential race with no release of actual evidence of who got shot in the head.There have been so many lies.secrets and cover-ups just in my lifetime that I question any thing that reeks of politics and powergrubbing.I am just thankful that no one else got killed or murdered.(or so we are told)