I’m very late posting today, and with little original content, but I hope you find some of the following articles interesting.
There has been an understandable deluge of analysis pouring out of every corner following Osama Bin Laden’s death. Here is a sample of a few of the more interesting ones:
James Fallows, writing for The Atlantic, analyzes the announcement of the event and speculates on the significance:
To his further shrewdness and credit, he invoked his predecessor by name when mentioning one of George W. Bush’s bravest and most important statements: “As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.”
Further Bush/Obama resonance: In the best speech of his presidency, his address to the Joint Session of Congress nine days after the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush used this most memorable line: “Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” Both Bush and Obama echoed that line tonight. Bush, in his statement: “the fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.” Obama, in his speech: “On nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.
Echoing Chris’ earlier comments:
For years anti-terrorism experts have stressed the decentralized, self-sustaining nature of al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations around the world. The elimination of the celebrated symbol and inspiration of the movement will certainly not mean the end of terrorist threats, and in the short run could trigger revenge attacks.
But here is potentially the greatest significance of this news, apart from the “bringing justice to our enemies” satisfaction: it holds the potential of marking an end to the otherwise un-endable “Global War or Terror.”
Signifying an end to a “global war” does not mean the end of a threat. America faces a daily threat from crime; for the foreseeable future Americans and others will face a continuing threat of terrorist attack; the entire world faces a threat that the thousands of nuclear warheads still in existence could destroy millions, through accidental or deliberate misuse. But we classify all those as threats, requiring our continued vigilance and best efforts to prevent them.
These comments echo Fallows’ September 2006 insightful article “Declaring Victory” where he was ahead of many in calling for an end to the “war on terrorism:”
The United States is succeeding in its struggle against terrorism. The time has come to declare the war on terror over, so that an even more effective military and diplomatic campaign can begin.
“It is not the people al-Qaeda might kill that is the threat,” he [David Kilcullen] concluded. “Our reaction is what can cause the damage. It’s al-Qaeda plus our response that creates the existential danger.”
Since 9/11, this equation has worked in al-Qaeda’s favor. That can be reversed.
Noted terrorism analyst Bruce Hoffman challenges some conventional wisdom in the wake of Bin Laden’s death in the The National Interest:
First, the assumption was that he was hiding in a cave in some isolated mountain range, cut off equally from his supporters and from the creature comforts that make life as a fugitive more bearable. Yet we learn that he’s been living a stone’s throw from the Pakistani capital, both in comfort and relative anonymity. This in turn calls into question some of the assumptions about the aid and assistance he doubtlessly would have needed to receive from a variety of plotters to be located right under the nose of the government and its military and intelligence authorities. Also, the assumption was that Bin Laden was in such isolation and so cut off from communication that he’d nearly been reduced to a figurehead, a marginal character, in al-Qaeda’s operations and destiny. His presence in an urban hub, presumably with a variety of modes of contact, calls into question the supposedly hands-off, irrelevant role he had been believed to play in al-Qaeda’s strategy and perhaps even day-to-day operations. Indeed, it may have been his active participation in key al-Qaeda decision-making and operational matters that allowed us to track him to his hideout—there must have been an unusual number people coming and going, functioning essentially as couriers. It may thus be that he’s had much more of a role in al-Qaeda than we believed.
Steve Coll, President of the New America Foundation, covers an array of issues in a New Yorker piece, including:
On where he was found
On who was living with Bin Laden
On what bin Laden’s death means for Al Qaeda
On the hunt itself
You want more? How about a discussion on Bin Laden’s death and what it might mean for the war on terrorism, relations with Pakistan, and the situation on the ground in Afghanistan with a former CIA agent who dealt with the Pakistani security services, a Ranger who served as “Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team International Security Assistance Forces Afghanistan,” and a Pakistani journalist: