It’s been just about 12 hours since the news broke that U.S. forces had killed international terrorist Osama bin Laden in his mansion hide-out in Pakistan. My head is still spinning. After my initial gut reaction of shock with a touch of joy, I find myself wondering if this was the best course of action.
We’ve been searching for bin Laden for almost half my life. I remember September 11, 2001 like it was yesterday. I had been 13 years old for just 11 days. I was sitting in my “Family and Consumer Sciences” class in Koda Middle School learning how to balance a checkbook when our principal gave an announcement about the attacks and tragedy taking place just 250 miles south of where I was sitting. My teacher turned on the T.V. and I think that moment, when I was watching the shaky cameras of terrified reporters, planted the first seed of “I want to be a journalist ” in my head.
Last night, I was laying in bed reading “Rolling Stone” and watching NY1 for some local news when they announced that President Obama was going to make an important announcement about Osama bin Laden. When I first heard that he was dead (and at the hands of the U.S. no less) I didn’t believe it. But when President Obama stood in the East Room of the White House and made the announcement I started to cry. We had found him after a 10 year search–a search and subsequent wars that sent many of my friends and family overseas and into harm’s way. I quite literally grew up with the threat of bin Laden and now it’s gone–but that’s not really the case.
I hate to be the stereotypical cynical journalist but the fact of the matter is that bin Laden was just one terrorist and he hadn’t been the leader of Al Qaeda for a long time. Now that he’s been pronounced dead and his martyrdom solidified there is any number of people willing and ready to take his place. As much as I think we should strive towards the cliché “world peace,” I just don’t think it will happen. Sadly, there is no shortage of hatred in this world.
What concerns me the most is the inevitable retaliation the U.S. will most likely receive. I’m scared that either we’ll be attacked on U.S. soil again or, because we’ve upped security so much, the terrorists will set their sights on our troops overseas. This will most certainly not go unnoticed by Al Qaeda. Remember how pissed off Americans were when they saw Al Qaeda supporters dancing in the streets when the towers fell? That’s probably how Al Qaeda felt last night when thousands of Americans were celebrating in front of the White House and Ground Zero. Revenge is a vicious cycle and I’m so scared that it will never end.
Part of me wishes the U.S. hadn’t been so hasty to kill bin Laden. It would have been more diplomatic to take him alive, but from what I can tell so far, that probably wasn’t an option. I am incredibly proud that our country at least had the compassion to bury bin Laden in Islamic tradition–showing, however slightly, that we are the so-called “bigger person.” I’m still a firm supporter of “violence is never the answer.” (I wish guns would be abolished.) And that’s still true in this case. Yes, we killed bin Laden, but what did it accomplish? Yes, we knocked someone off the FBI’s most wanted list but we’re still fighting terrorism and bin Laden is still going to continue to be a topic of discussion in the political world. I believe “getting” bin Laden was an important milestone for America, but it by no means is the end.
Bin Laden is going to dominate the 2012 presidential election (Sorry, Planned Parenthood). The conspiracy theory lovers will move on from requesting President Obama’s birth certificate to bin Laden’s death certificate. (Side Note: I guess Obama really wasn’t kidding when he said “I have better things to do” during the birth certificate debate.) Democrats will use it as a trump card and Donald Trump will use it as another excuse to put his foot in his mouth. Republicans will invariably find some flaw in the President’s actions while Democrats will continue to brush off the competition and not take Republicans seriously, which is a short-sighted mistake.
As I watched New Yorkers rally at Ground Zero last night–dancing, celebrating, feeling relieved–I realized that the scope of our foreign policy had changed. But when I woke up this morning I realized that things had also gotten more complicated. For the longest time our goal was to find Osama bin Laden. We did. He’s dead. Now what? It’ll be interesting to see because I’m more confused about the state of world politics than ever.