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.
6. American foreign policy wonks might conceivably begin to figure out that Pakistan, which clearly furnished protection and resources to Osama, is not a reliable ally, or indeed is no ally at all. The administration would hypothetically arrive at an understanding of how the real world works and in the process save itself billions of dollars in wasted subsidies to the Pakistani government. It may also feel the need to reassess its entire Middle East policy and its misguided outreach to the Muslim umma, which come at the cost of blood, treasure, and increased Islamic misprision. Admittedly, though, this is a very slender hope.
7. Hollywood directors and thespians may find it necessary to revise their fashionable sentiments and production agenda, and reconsider their lockstep tendency to cast America as the villain of the piece. They might at long last produce a few believable movies. Perhaps they will now take seriously Viktor Frankl’s recommendation that the Statue of Liberty on the east coast should be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast.
These are only some of the potential benefits that leap to mind as a result of Osama bin Laden’s belated erasure. Doubtless, there are others. But it’s a start.