Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman
Many Americans will remember where they were when they heard the news that Osama bin Laden was killed in the special ops strike ordered by President Barack Obama and carried out by Navy Seals the same way many remember where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor, JFK’s assassination and 911. It closed one chapter – but not the book…
The next chapter’s shape isn’t known yet but bin Laden’s death won’t prove a magic wand, although it does alter some landscapes.
The monumental military operation that ended bin Laden’s career will be studied for generations. Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda is Murder Incorporated using religious rhetoric. But unlike Murder Incorporated bin Laden had no problem butchering innocent men, woman and children to increase the body count he sorely needed to spread terror. He also thrust the world into a shocking period where unspeakable beheadings of Al Qaeda’s or affiliated groups’ prisoners were posted in obscenely graphic Internet videos. Negative reaction in the Arab world reportedly halted this series of terrorist-produced snuff films.
But a sea change? The main sea change was the loud splash as bin Laden’s body was hurled into the ocean.
There was an initial consensus by most in both parties that getting rid of bin Laden was a huge victory for the country and for Obama. But within 24 hours chants of “USA! USA!” were soon replaced by partisan chants.
Political-point-seeking partisans can’t come to grips with the role administrations of BOTH political parties played in the negligence that led to thousands dying on 911 and the success that lead to bin Laden now sleeping with the fishes.
Both parties mishandled pre-911 intelligence on Al Qaeda. And, yes, Democrats, George Bush did do some groundwork that permitted Obama’s operation. And, yes, Republicans, Obama’s steely decisions on how it was carried out, his not waiting when he sensed an opportunity and his willingness to take a huge risk is indeed why bin Laden was killed.
Many liberals gleefully noted that bin Laden was killed with Obama in control. Many Republicans made it sound as if Obama quickly signed a document and George W. Bush did 99 percent of the work. The most reprehensible partisan statement came from Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips who said bin Laden was killed in spite of Obama. Several commentators and radio talk show callers a)suggested the body at the bottom of the sea might not be bin Laden’s b)implied this was an Obama ploy to boost re-election. This theory was even too nutty for Donald Trump.
Obama will get a short term political benefit because it’ll be harder for GOPers to say he doesn’t care about terrorism or isn’t a strong national security President. He can reshape the national narrative in terms of America’s goal-achieving potential.. Obama has been helped by a statement Bush made in frustration. When asked about bin Laden’s escape from Tora Bora Bush testily replied he didn’t spent a lot of time thinking about him. Bush gave the impression that he thought Tora Bora was a dull bar mitzvah while Obama from the outset vowed to make getting bin Laden his top priority. And he got him.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has been revealed as being either a sleazy accomplice in hiding bin Laden near its equivalent of West Point or a dangerously incompetent ally. U.S. India relations will likely expand. Pakistan will be correctly distrusted…
What about Al Qaeda and Arab countries? The head of the snake has been cut off but there are still little Al Qaeda offshoot affiliates slithering around. And no one knows yet whether the “new” Middle East will become the seat of democracy or a hotbed of radicalism.
The most devastating hit is to bin Laden’s mystique, that legend surrounding him that made him a major terrorist recruitment tool. The supposedly brave bin Laden hid behind his wife. So did my uncle Sidney — but in Laden’s case, he used his wife as a human shield.
Bin Laden’s last words to the Navy Seals were probably: “Stop! Or I’ll fight to the last drop of her blood!”
Copyright 2011 Joe Gandelman
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at [email protected] and can be booked to speak at your event atwww.mavenproductions.com.
Follow Joe Gandelman on Twitter @joegandelman.