This morning, my inbox contained multiple emails regarding the death of Osama bin Laden. Virginia Governor McDonnell, Representative Forbes, and Senate hopefuls George Allen and Jamie Radtke each offered their thoughts on this important moment. All expressed appreciation for the efforts of the United States armed forces. Most commended President Obama for his leadership.
If you will recall, back in 2003, President Bush gave a speech on an aircraft carrier declaring “mission accomplished”. But, at that point, the true mission was far from over. Rather than expending our resources to catch the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Bush and his allies diverted the nation in a conflict in the unrelated nation of Iraq. Osama was still at large. His whereabouts were unknown. Justice had not yet been served and the people lost on September 11th went unavenged. Now, that chapter is closed.
Presumably with bin Laden’s death and the death of so many of his conspirators over the years, his network is shattered and whatever lasting influence he may have had is erased. Will some sort of violence erupt as news of his death spreads? Very likely. But I would expect it to be sporadic and be brief. After all, few people would choose to follow in his footsteps, being hunted for a decade before having one’s life suddenly snuffed out. The message should be clear. Don’t mess with the United States and her people.
News of his demise raises some important questions that need answers: How did bin Laden get into Pakistan? How long had he been there? How many Pakistanis, including those in the government and military knew that he was there? Who was aiding him in his compound? From my understanding of the whole adventure, the Pakistanis were far from strong allies in this endeavor.
But there is a far greater question. What now? Now that bin Laden is dead will our troops return home to pick up whatever civilian lives they enjoyed before 9-11? Will we dismantle our decade old bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere? After all, we have finally achieved what we set out to do. I can already hear what a few of you will say. “We need those bases to fight against terrorism!” Really? Patrolling a remote and poor nation like Afghanistan is key to U.S. security? Before you claim that I am against defending our nation, need I remind you that the U.S. is drowning in debt and can scarcely afford to maintain these outposts in now relatively non-strategic areas?
Is the “War on Terror” over or will it remain a new staple of the government like the “War on Poverty” and the “War on Drugs”? Do we live in an age of war without end? Will we hunt down every marginally hostile person throughout the greater Middle East? Back at home, will the TSA continue to grope little old ladies waiting in line at the airport?
Don’t think that I believe the government should not remain vigilant; after all, it must protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens. However, if you want to limit terrorism in America then the most important step is to protect our borders. Becoming the world’s policemen and setting up a far-flung empire across the globe runs counter to the spirit and Constitutional authority of our national government.
Regardless of any other factors, Bin Laden’s death ought to be a cause of celebration and reflection for all citizens of our nation. After nearly ten years, the mission is (finally) accomplished.