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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Death of Osama Bin Ladin

So Osama Bin Laden is dead. Good riddance I guess, but I would rather have seen him captured alive. I am a bit uncomfortable with the reactions of some people, for several reasons. I don't particularly care for the "War on Terror" rhetoric that's been thrown around over the years, as it A: gives them a prestige they don't deserve, and B: Makes us forget what they really are: criminals. Osama Bin Ladin was a criminal, but many of the announcements of his death seem to forget that. He's been made out to be a powerful evil figure who has the capability to wipe the US out of existence. Yeah, right. Even 9/11 was botched (had they hit the towers a bit later, they could have killed many more people, and why did they never target oil refineries or pipelines, or other such functional targets? they could have done a better job at crowd control on flight 93 too). Many people see this as a triumph of the US over an evil foe. As an internationalist, this view irks me. I feel no loyalty to any country, but to humanity as a whole, and feel that such expressions tend to needlessly alienate other people.
I also feel that the US military, while definitely deserving of it in this case, will receive more credit than it deserves. From what we know at the moment, Bin Ladin was found by the intelligence community, after several years of searching. According to reports, a lead surfaced in august, which was followed, and which led to his death today. Given the above, it seems to me that in this operation, the military functioned solely as a tool of the intelligence community.
I also feel that Bin Laden's death will be little more then a propaganda victory for the US. I think the best case scenario would be his death causing Al Qaida to become demoralized, and as a result, ineffective. Given the decentralized structure of Al Qaida, they seem to be perfectly capable of functioning without much intervention from the top leadership. Historically, that seems to have been one of their strengths.
I do think the reporters got it right when they started wondering whether this would encourage retaliatory attacks. Given their decentralized structure, and wide geographic range, this seems quite possible.
I can't wait till we have greater hindsight from which to examine this.

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