- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
I asked Courtney Messerschmidt, AKA gSgF, to explain to Best Defense readers the emotional reaction of her fully crunked peers to the killing of bin Laden:
By Courtney Messerschmidt
Best Defense guest Ute correspondent
For those of us who were 10 or 11 years old on 9/11, the news of bin Laden’s death is worthy of celebration. It is a tremendous moral victory for our nation and it validates what so many of us have learned in the past decade — that America really is a magical nation — the only one of her kind (more on this in a bit).
It’s the triumph of good over evil. Sound passé’? Au contraire — most of us reject moral relativism.
It’s because for half of our entire lives we have lived with scary and creepy stuff like Taliban, al Qaeda, jihad, and the threat of terrorism on a mass attack scale from the indescribable horrors we saw live on TV that day — with almost daily threats from various branches of aQ that they would gladly kill more Americans anyway and anytime they could.
Unlike the Soviet threat in ancient times — al Qaeda had no embassies or diplomats at U.N. to double talk and speak of peaceful coexistence. aQ was always intolerant, and totally hot for murderous activities that targeted innocents by design.
9/11 was the pivotal day in our very young lives and OBL’s timely demise seems to have closed a chapter that lasted forever.
This is significant.
1st off — pretty cool to realize that OBL realized his death was imminent. Like il Duce, der führer, or S’Ddam — the awesome knowledge that the end was at hand as America confronted him for a haj to the perfumed gardens of paradise. And like al Zarqawi in Iraq – the last thing OBL ever saw was a po’d American about to kill him. Oh, that is sweet.
Equally hot — of all the nations that aQ has attacked and tormented over the years — only Great Satan had the brain power, will power, staying power, and fire power to hunt him down, choppering in less than 30 guys into a veritable Pakistani Army base with nearly 10 thousand troops stationed blocks away to visit death upon him. And in a fun, friendly ‘forget you’ way — hauled off the body as booty and chucked it overboard from an American aircraft carrier (sovereign American turf — no less) as shark bait.
Many think the war is over — or almost over — as the recent Yemen drone strikes hoping to kill al Awlaki indicate.
Others realize in a Churchillian way — it isn’t the end — or even the beginning of the end, yet it may well be the end of the beginning.
So we celebrate the victory of good over evil via bin Laden’s death repeatedly, without modesty or restraint. Not to put too fine a point on it — when the ‘funintended consequences’ erupted on TV later in the week in the form of rowdy foreigners protesting America’s righteous hit, we reveled in their dismay.
And when frightened teachers and the elderly gave us the old ‘shame shame’ meme for partying about the death of a mass murder engineer we joyously pointed out — sometimes — our enemies need killing.
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Argument |