Home > Foreign Policy, Musings, Personal > We Got Him: Bin Laden Dead.

We Got Him: Bin Laden Dead.

These are moments that you remember. Where you were, what time it was, the feeling, the incredible emotions. It’s been quite sometime since a President has spoken to the nation with very little notice–even the events of September 11th, 2001 had a certain timeline to them. When you hear (or in this new media age, read, showing just how things come around) that the President will announce the nation “shortly,” you sit with baited breath. And so it has happened.

I write this as we hear the first news that Osama Bin Laden, the financier and mastermind between countless Radical Islam-driven attacks, is dead, and that the body is reportedly in U.S. hands. It started first with a trickle, with the sudden announcement that the President would speak at 10:30 p.m. What could possibly be happening right now? Libya? Ghadaggi’s son is allegedly dead…

So the speculation began, some suggesting tornadoes, others Libya, but it quickly became apparent (both on the nets and Twitter) that this was indeed a national security matter, but shortly thereafter it was established that this did not have to do with the Libyan situation. Minutes passed and eventually 10:30 p.m. did, but it was first leaked on Twitter that this was Bin Laden, but not via the networks. Finally, at 10:45 p.m., the former standardbearers broke in with their bombastic orchestral themes, and we heard it: Bin Laden is dead, and we have the body.

At this point, all we know is that Bin Laden is indeed dead and we have the body. It is expected that President Obama’s speech will focus on the details of how he was finally brought to justice, but as the minutes click away, television news organizations are left with a huge story but no developments, as the President puts the finishing touches on his speech. So the speculation on just what this means.

So what does this mean? Well, I’m just one man. At the moment, one man filled with a fairly powerful mix of emotions. I feel that this goes for countless across the nation, not least of all those who have or had loved ones serving in what was called the War on Terror. Yet I can help but think about what this does mean. What does this mean? Well, at this moment, it would appear that the largest effect is symbolic. We knew from the get go, when we became involved with a fight against al Qaeda and radical Islam writ large, that we were fighting an asymmetrical, decentralized force. Just how involved was Bin Laden with the day to day operations of an organization that was spread throughout the world and whose primary financiers were pushed to some of the most remote regions of the world? That is something we may now never know. Still, Bin Laden, as NBC just pointed out, was the chief architect of the organization, and at one point its primary financial baker. But the ground troops are still out there. Indeed, we didn’t call it the War on Al Qaeda–it was the War on Terror. For perhaps the first time in military history, war was declared not on an enemy but rather on a form of warfare, or to narrow it just a bit more a form of warfare as used by an ideological yet divided, decentralized force. So I don’t think, by any stretch of the imagination, we can expect a quick return to pre-9/11 lifestyles, or the immediate return of ground troops in Afghanistan. What has happened is we have destroyed the embodiment of what the western world and even many Arabs and Islamists construed to be the embodiment of evil.

This is big not only for the United States, as we have been fighting this enemy for nearly twenty years (if you include our pre-9/11 actions against the organization), but for the Islamic world. The Islamic world has been in a schizophrenic state for sometime–as it currently stands, many states are currently throwing off the shackles of oppression, some largely secular, some steeped in Islam. At the same time, however, many resent the United States for continuing operations in the Middle East and Far East Asia. There has been some speculation that some of the Arabic rebellions could lead to a repeat of the Iranian tragedy, where a secular revolution was co-opted by hard fisted theocrats. This event shows that the U.S. and its allies will not stand for a stateless promoter of such a ruthless ideology. Will this make the Arab world safe for democracy? Perhaps, but perhaps it will enrage those already psychotic (and perhaps beyond saving) souls who insist that a form of theocracy is the only thing that will save them as a people.

So, as you can tell, I ultimately stand with just as many questions as answers. The only thing that seems to be certain is that our military bases around the world at higher alert tonight, because we simply don’t know how this will effect the overall outlook on the conflict and the motivations of those who are fighting for their perverted beliefs. I can tell you, mentally, there is some relief…..we’ve been waiting for this day since the attacks on our homeland, filled with a mix of grief and anger. As Afghanistan fell out of the hands of Taliban, which was harboring al Qaeda, the small, previously barely mentioned nation turned into an anarchist wasteland, battled over by those with fanatical ideological motivations and those driven by the baser desires of power and money. In the middle was the U.S. military, trying to keep the peace and put a democracy into power that sometimes seemed to simply not want to exist, beset by corruption. The grief and anger, though, would change focus, as people began to wonder just why we were in that small, landlocked nation. Lives were lost, including those close to our own little landlocked piece of the world here in Shenandoah County.

So what do I feel? Some relief, some satisfaction, and plenty of lingering concerns about if we went about this in just the right way. But now the deed is done. We now live in a world without Osama Bin Laden and it feels, for lack of a better term, different. But most importantly, a man of true evil who financed, backed, and likely planned countless acts of outright murder in the name of a controlling, destructive ideology is dead, and that’s a good thing.

So we’re still waiting. There’ll be plenty of ink and digital copy spilled tomorrow, and I may have some. But for right now, three parting observations on the procedural aspects of tonight.

One, Twitter, if it hadn’t before, has arrived. I waved off the initial reports, but they turned out to be spot on. They were roughly a half hour ahead of the networks. On a related note, two, there’s no such thing anymore as a confidential source. Leaks are almost unstoppable in this age of new media. Three, and perhaps paradoxically, Twitter may be falling, or we may be witnessing a decline of snark. I saw countless snarky posts tonight, hinting that Obama would be addressing Trump, some minor league outfit staying in their hometown, and various sundry bits of “humor”. While they may have seemed funny to the authors, I did not find them funny. This could have been anything. American lives are still at risk. A pathological hatred of this president is no reason to mock a possibly important announcement that goes far beyond any one man. I loathe his policies, but I strive, even if I don’t always meet my own standards, to maintain a certain respect for the presidency and our government’s institutions. I hope Twitter can grow up too.

And so the President speaks, and I shut up.

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