On Osama bin Laden

On Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden’s death is welcome news. He symbolized the virulence of al Qaeda animosity to America and also symbolized the limits of American power in fighting this kind of war.

President Obama served our country well, both in his actions approving the operation and in his statement after its success. He commended the intelligence operatives and analysts who collected the clues and connected them, and the military folks who fought their way into the compound and killed bin Laden. He gracefully had been in touch with his predecessor and with Pakistani President Zardari. He praised cooperation with Pakistan that made the operation possible, which, even if untrue, it will assist future efforts.

The President put the achievement in context of the broader war we are fighting, allaying concerns the Administration might see this as justification for "ending" the war on terror (or whatever the polite term is for it now); because the grim truth is that this war will continue until the al Qaeda terrorists who threaten us finally conclude it isn’t worth continuing.

The operation itself was shrewdly planned, even to the detail of having a body to demonstrate we’d killed bin Laden — because of course al Qaeda has every reason to deny it — and disposing of the body at sea to prevent any burial place becoming a shrine for al Qaeda.

Perhaps the most gratifying part of bin Laden’s death is the demise of al Qaeda that preceded it. They are still virulently dangerous, but they no longer represent a major political force in the so-called Arab world. The really good news that bin Laden’s death is that al Qaeda’s violent ideology has been on the wane for years now.

Muslims have not embraced a variant of their faith that legitimizes killing innocent people; the debate among the faithful has moved decidedly in the direction of opposing such butchery. And the wave of political change sweeping across the Middle East refutes al Qaeda’s claim that only violence and intolerance can produce the change that the people of the Middle East are craving.