Monday, May 2, 2011

Obama Gets Osama

After having made certain by DNA analysis that they had gotten their man, dead rather than alive, Osama bin Laden’s body was committed to the fishes. This was probably a good idea: The burial is compliant with Islamic rites, which specifies near immediate disposition of the dead; and the disposal of the remains makes it less likely that terrorists who drew energy from Mr. bin Laden’s presence will have a martyr’s site to which they can repair to pray and plot ways to blow up non-military civilians such as those who died on 9-11.

Here in the United States, one could hear champagne corks popping shortly after the glad tidings were disclosed in a 15 minute address to the nation by President Barack Obama. Mr. Obama said justice had been served at the hands of the Navy Seals, who dispatched Mr. bin Laden after a brief firefight.

Mr. bin Laden was shot in the head, according to officials, after he and his bodyguards resisted the assault. The assaulters bagged three adult males, including one of Mr. bin Laden's sons, and a woman used as shield by Mr. bin Laden. Two other women were injured.

In his remarks, Mr. Obama identified Mr. bin Laden as a terrorist who had violated Islamic precepts by targeting civilians and other Islamic co-religionists.

The austere millionaire – Mr. bin Laden inherited his millions from his father, a master builder and contractor in Saudi Arabia – was said to have spent his last days in a “costly, custom-built hideout” three quarters of a mile distant from a Pakistani military academy, his operational influence in Afghanistan having been degraded many years before. The war in Afghanistan is being waged by the Taliban, not al Qaeda, the group founded by Mr. bin Laden.

Never-the-less, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a warning to the Taliban shortly after the fish began nibbling on Mr. bin Laden’s toes.

“You cannot wait us out, you cannot defeat us, but you can make the choice to abandon al Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process,” said Mrs. Clinton, regarded by some as having persuaded Mr. Obama to take a firmer hand in those areas of the Middle East -- such as Egypt, Syria and Libya -- in which the seeds of democracy appear to have produced tender shoots. Such shoots, it should be said, have a way of putting forth dark blossoms, quasi-religious theocrats who quickly stamp out dangerous democratic eruptions, replacing them with more or less permanent quasi-religious thugocracies.

Here at home in Connecticut, reaction to the mission by members of the state’s congressional delegation was nearly instantaneous.

A historic moment, said U.S. Rep John Larson “rivaled only by the demise of Adolf Hitler,” a fanciful stretch. One of Mr. Larson’s aides should seize from Mr. Larson’s vocabulary the words “rivaled only by” and impound them.

The state’s very junior senator, Dick Blumenthal, soon to become Connecticut’s senior senator upon Senator Joe Lieberman’s retirement, characterized the killing of Mr. bin Laden as “a significant turning point in the war on terror,” an overcooked sentiment. Any progress in overcoming terrorism in greater Arabia will be a slow slog. The terrorist hydra will survive without one of its heads. Mr. Blumenthal might benefit from a conference with Mr. Lieberman.

Due deference, for once, was shown by both the president and senators to former President George Bush, an indication that Mr. Bush’s long nightmare as a perceived political booby may be coming to an end.

And indeed, Mr. Obama, much to the dismay of anti-war zealots in the Democratic Party, has copied much of Mr. Bush’s foreign policy, expanding to three the war fronts that the American military is now engaged in, all without a peep from Connecticut’s congressional delegation, most of whom benefited in their campaign from the former president’s overly aggressive foreign policy. The road to Mr. bin Laden's killing was paved with information provided from CIA black sites through interrogations of Kahlid Sheik Mohammed. The GITMO prison is still functioning, despite Mr. Obama’s pledge to shut the place down during his presidential campaign. And the effort to try in civilian court the real mastermind of 9-11, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, has finally been abandoned by Mr. Obama’s hapless Attorney General Eric Holder. Mr. Mohammed will be tried by a military tribunal.

There are some tactical differences between the two commanders-in chief: Mr. Bush captured and water boarded Mr. Mohammed, extracting from him actionable intelligence used to frustrate future terrorist plots against the United States; Mr. Obama fed Mr. bin Laden to the fishes.

It may be something of a plus that Mr. Osama, unlike Mr. Mohammed, won’t be talking to any American defense attorneys.

UPDATE

According to a later Barack Obama administration report on May 3, Mr. bin Ladin was not armed when he was shot, nor did he use his wife as a human shield. The assaulters were acting on orders to kill Mr. bin Ladin.

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