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The conversation: Rethinking victory in Abbottabad in Osama bin Laden’s favor


Sure, President Obama's approval ratings are up and the victory in Abbottabad may just give him the edge he needs in the next presidential race. Still, we don’t yet know the long-term consequences of Osama bin Laden’s death, and there is the possibility that our mission wasn’t as victorious as excited crowds on Sunday night made it seem.

Bin Laden achieved exactly what he wanted

In "The Looming Tower," the Pulitzer-winning history of al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11, author Lawrence Wright lays out how Osama bin Laden’s motivation for the attacks that he planned in the 1990s, and then the September 11 attacks, was to draw the U.S. and the West into a prolonged war—an actual war in Afghanistan, and a broader global war with Islam.

Osama got both. And we gave him a prolonged war in Iraq to boot. By the end of Obama’s first term, we’ll probably top 6,000 dead U.S. troops in those two wars, along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans. The cost for both wars is also now well over $1 trillion. […]

Yes, bin Laden the man is dead. But he achieved all he set out to achieve, and a hell of a lot more. He forever changed who we are as a country, and for the worse. Mostly because we let him. That isn’t something a special ops team can fix.

--Radley Balko, Reason

 Al Qaeda is still a force to be reckoned with

As any expert will tell you, one of bin Laden's biggest successes is creating an organization that will survive him. When bin Laden and a few associates founded al Qaeda in 1988, the organization was tiny and relied on the Saudi millionaire for the bulk of its funding. In subsequent years the organization has grown to support insurgents throughout the Muslim world, issued propaganda swaying the views of millions and, of course, murdered thousands through terrorism and its participation in civil wars. Thousands were asked to formally join the organization, and tens of thousands received training. So al Qaeda will not collapse overnight.

--Daniel Byman, Foreign Policy

 Bin Ladensim continues

If Al Qaeda were to go into decline post-Bin Laden (and that is far from clear), it would not be surprising to see other jihadist organizations compete for the mantle of leading global jihad. Already other groups have adopted many of his innovations, which brought jihadism into the Information Age. The battle against Bin Laden is over, but the battle against Bin Ladensim continues.

--Max Boot, Los Angeles Times

We're still a country addicted to oil

Although in the contest to determine Mr. Bush’s successor Barack Obama offered himself as the candidate who would take a different tack, he has not done so. Since taking office, he has redoubled US military efforts in Afghanistan, while opening up new fronts in Pakistan and, more recently, Libya. Although President Obama avoids the term “war on terror,” that war – and the larger project begun back in 1915 – continues unabated. And although Mr. Obama can rightly cite the killing of Bin Laden as a notable victory, it will not prove decisive, if only because the essential issues giving rise to war in the first place remain unresolved.

--Andrew J. Bacevich, The Christian Science Monitor

 We don't know: Can we trust Pakistan?

If Pakistani military intelligence did not know about this, they should have known. If they did know, the withholding of information of this importance from the U.S. is more evidence that the relationship is broken.

--Mark Quarterman, The New York Times


Regretting Bin Laden's death

Mailbag: Goodbye 'birthers,' hello 'deathers'

Global terrorism: The battle isn't over yet

After bin Laden: We've yet to learn the long-term consequences

The striking similarities between World War I and today's wars

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: People rally to condemn the killing of Osama bin Laden in Karachi, Pakistan, on Tuesday. Credit: Shakil Adil / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (8)

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Sorry, Bin Laden did not achieve "all he set out to achieve" as Mr. Balko falsely claims. Let's run through the list of his ultimate goals:
1. Establishment of an worldwide Islamic caliphate. Fail
2. Toppling all Middle Eastern regimes and replacing them with Islamic states. Fail
3. Foment a war between the West and Islam. Fail
4. Bankrupt the US. Fail

First, Mr. Balko cites the scary cost of the wars ("well over a trillion dollars") but neglects to remind you that those costs were spread over ten years and are a lower percentage of our GDP than we have spent in other past conflicts. We are a wealthy country, recent financial meltdown notwitsstanding, and can afford the cost of the wars. Second, all middle eastern regimes in existence prior to 9/11 still exist, with the exception of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, none of which were overthrown by Islamists. Third, only the uneducated and manipulated believe there is an actual war against Islam. Fourth, the US is far from bankrupt or near the sort of decline that Bin Laden falsely believed he inflicted on the Soviet Union.

In short, Bin Laden failed miserably. None of his primary goals were achieved, let alone all of them.


I think this revisionist nonsense has no place in the debate. Bin laden killed a lot of people but he achieved very little. The wars were as much about the geopolitical void created by the fall of the Soviet Union and the need to secure oil supplies. Bin Laden’s goals were elimination of the west and the establishment of cohesive Islamist governments. far from this ,the Arab peoples are rising and demanding democracy. Bin laden in the final analysis was as successful as Hitler or Mussolini. But I suppose such revisionism really does capture the attention of editors.


In sports, in ethnicity, in religion, in politics, human nature will look for excuses to unleash its original hate, it’s primal self-assuring need of us vs. them. Hate is what killed left and right of all enemy lines, what killed the jews, the hutus, the shiit, the croats, the gays, hate killed Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, hate is what made 911’s tragedy possible, hate is always the one who kills the cat, a hundred percent of the time.

So maybe I’m not really in the mood to shoot beer into the air in recognition of it. Maybe it’s time we finally go about wound-healing in a slightly more mindful way.



That picture is hysterical. New picture for the definition of Hypocrite. I guess it's ok for Osama to kill, but Obama has to not kill. What morons... And the guy on the left looks high.


Achieving victory by bringing terrorists to room temperature one at a time.


"We are a wealthy country, recent financial meltdown notwitsstanding, and can afford the cost of the wars." #FAIL.



If we can afford the wars, tell us how taxes much you are willing to pay for them and for how long. How many young people's lives will you invest in the war machine? Will you and your family members fight? How many crippled veterans will you take into your home? How much will you pay to keep them off the streets and on medicine? Rick??

Cody Poynter


So, after tremendously smearing Dr. Paul for running for president you guys write an article with these views?





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