02 May 2011
Believe it or not
The President of the United States has announced that Osama bin Laden has been killed in a firefight in a suburb of Islamabad, Pakistan. He claims that American forces have possession of the corpse of the terrorist leader. A crowd has gathered outside the White House to celebrate, but I wonder whether the news will change anything. Many will remain skeptical, believing that bin Laden is either still alive or had actually died long ago. While this news was long awaited as a vindication of George W. Bush's policies, and would presumably have resulted in a great boost for his popularity, I somehow doubt whether Obama will benefit for long, if at all. If anything, if Americans accept that the deed has been done, there will and should be increasing pressure to declare victory in the war on terror and get the troops out of Afghanistan, regardless of whether the American operation has really damaged al-Qaeda's operational capacity, so long as Ayman al-Zarahiri remains alive and well. Americans have turned inward since the economic crash of 2008, so it remains to be seen, now that the news networks are trumpeting the triumph, whether this will be the climactic event, or the cause for celebration, that it was expected to be so seemingly long ago.