A quick survey of the net suggests that many of us had the same thought as John Payne tonight: now can we bring the troops home?
Making Osama bin Laden the face of the “War on Terror” may have been a mistake, doing more for his legacy than for our security, but it sure could come in handy now, leadership willing. Let’s declare VT Day. Release the ticker tape. Just don’t try this in Times Square; you’re likely to be arrested. Bloomberg is still very much with us.
This is the perfect moment for the president to declare victory in the Global War on Terror (I’m ready to play along) and announce our expedited withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. Qaeda’s lack of anyone of comparable stature to replace bin Laden provides us with the opportunity to make of his death a symbolic finale (the leadership void also reveals al Qaeda’s weakness).
But time is of the essense. Acting now, before the “Arab Spring” heats up with the inevitable frustrations of summer, we could take the demagogic wind out of the electoral sails of the region’s Islamists. On the other hand, if America is seen as unrelenting following bin Laden’s death–heading into the uncertainty of post-”Spring” Arabia–bin Laden becomes the mother of all martyrs and the “Crusader West” mythos is fortified.
Change is hard, Mr. President. It’s time, finally, to face down the Pentagon and the Three Stooges (here they are, I think in one of their little-known “road” movies) and bring the troops home.
Update: Note also where bin Laden was found, amidst the same Pakistani military elite that has been spending billions of dollars in US aid for cooperation in, among other things, the hunt for bin Laden! Steve Sailer was quick to point out the scam. The Christian Science Monitor here frets that our assault on bin Laden’s fortress in the bosom of Pakistan’s military may have unduly offended. God bless them.
But it also tells us that bin Laden was not cowering beneath the drones in the Pakistani hinterlands, all-but incommunicado (as Pakistan’s military, apparently, represented to us). He has had the opportunity to support terrorist activity, for years. This suggests both that bin Laden was not nearly as effective as he was symbolic and that al Qaeda, here a decade and two US occupations of Muslim lands after 9/11, still struggles to attract talent and maintain organization, despite the broad discontent that is toppling leaders who’ve kept the Islamists down for decades. And now the global jihad has local political competition for the discontented. The terrorist threat is real, it just isn’t great.
Where’s a purely ceremonial gesture when you need one?