Much ink has been spilled, along with the blood of Osama bin Laden, over the last few days following the targeted killing of the arch-terrorist. Has al-Qaeda been decapitated or will it simply grow another head, or crop of heads, like the Hydra of Greek myth? Will the Islamic world react by mounting revenge attacks in Western countries, unleashing new 9/11s, 3/11s, and 7/7s? Or go after Barack Obama himself, as promised by a Palestinian imam preaching in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem? Did the U.S. violate international law by killing rather than capturing Osama, as former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt thinks? After all, as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay opined, “all counter-terrorism acts must respect international law.” Has the “war on terror” been advanced or impeded by the covert operation in Pakistan? As the questions continue to circulate and the controversy to grow, only one thing is certain. The pundits are having a field day.
Nevertheless, the news is mainly good, and it may be appropriate to enumerate some of the positives brought about by the Event.
1. For a change of pace, the death of Osama is an occasion to hand out candy in Times Square while Hamas distributes bitter pills in the streets of Gaza City.
2. The grinning evangelist Jimmy Carter has been deprived of a star mass murderer he can visit — at least theoretically — bearing gifts and messages of peace and reconciliation, and will have to confine himself to the likes of Kim Jong-Il, Fidel Castro, Khaled Mashal, Mahmoud Zahar, and Hassan Nasrallah. Of course, he might entertain the prospect of a personal embassy to Ayatollah Khamenei or another tête-à-tête with Bashar Assad, surely glittering heroes in the Carter pantheon, but this is not currently a plausible scenario. That would be putting Carter before the horse.
3. President Obama has seen his poll ratings nudging upward for completing Dubya’s project, thanks in part to the critical interrogation procedures he so vigorously opposed which provided the intel required in order to act. However, not to worry. The popularity bump he enjoys is likely to prove temporary and, according to the Washington Post, “might not translate easily to other areas.” He may also experience some difficulty pacifying the hardcore portion of his leftist base.
4. The myrmidons of the left who celebrated 9/11 as a justified requital against the United States for its perceived geopolitical sins have had to endure the humiliation of national jubilation. Moreover, Democratic truthers will have to wonder why their beloved president took out Osama bin Laden and not George Bush whom many of their number believed was behind 9/11 or allowed it to happen. But at some point cognitive dissonance is bound to set in and their chickens will have come home to roost.
5. If they are averse to chicken, Gore Vidal and Michael Moore will have to eat crow.