Tuesday, May 3, 2011

bin Laden is dead -- now what?

By now, most of the known world is aware of the death of history's most infamous terrorist -- Osama bin Laden. Through great intelligence gathering by the Central Intelligence Agency and a well executed plan from the elite Navy Seal Team Six, the terrorist organization known as al-Qaeda was dealt a serious blow. Justice was finally brought to bin Laden after 10 years of hiding.

Historians will no doubt mark the day was important for the obvious reasons, but I would like to offer a few predictions for what will come about from the death of bin Laden.

1. President Obama has already won the Election of 2012. Critics of the president have chastised him for being 'soft' on foreign policy, including me. That claim no longer sticks. Obama made a risky choice by sending in a strike team into a sovereign nation without its permission.

Had this mission ended with civilian casualties or a failed effort to bring down bin Laden, this would have been a foreign policy nightmare. The world would have made comparisons to former President Jimmy Carter and the botched attempt to free hostages from Iran in 1979.

An air strike had to be ruled out, as bin Laden's body needed to be identified. According to an article in today's Wall Street Journal, some analysts believed the odds of a successful raid were as low as 60%. Obama 'rolled the dice' and he won big. For his calculated risk, Obama created a substantial rally point.

No, Obama wasn't at the scene firing a rifle, but he made a decision that required guts and this victory will be in the minds of voters in November of 2012. The task of defeating Obama would have been difficult before, and now it will not be possible.

2. al-Qaeda has been mortally wounded, which represents a great danger. Osama bin Laden was so crucial to the success to his group that his loss probably can't be expressed by words. He was part of the mujahdeen who helped fight off the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. He created a cult of personality around himself and according to intelligence reports, no one is left who can be what he was to al-Qaeda.

This terrorist group is essentially finished. However, when wounded, an animal will strike out with all its might and I fully expect al-Qaeda to do the same. They will attack and we must be prepared in the same manner we have been for the last 10 years.

3. The success of this mission provides a measure of vindication for President George W. Bush. Despite unwavering criticism, Bush pushed for and received broads authority to expand governmental powers to monitor and catch terrorists. Since 9/11, authorities have foiled numerous terrorist plots and now have eliminated the bin Laden. The harsh interrogation tactics and legislation such as the Patriot Act undoubtedly enabled America to keep herself safe.

4. Complications with foreign policy will be on the rise. Questions arise about the role of the Pakistani government and if they were providing bin Laden sanctuary. Relations with. Pakistan have already been strained in the past. What will happen now?

Another key issue America will have to address is the fact that Pakistan's sovereignty was violated. Although I believe the ends justify the means in this situation, America will take criticism for this action.

Other key foreign policy issues loom. How much time will pass before India (the long time enemy of Pakistan) pressures the U.S. to take a more aggressive stance toward Pakistan? Will Afghanistan wish for us to reduce the American presence in their country?

American involvement in Pakistan also will evoke responses from other Islamic nations in the Middle East and also from China.

5. Terrorism will ultimately be defeated. After Japan attacked the United States in 1941, their chief military planner, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was said to have lamented, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

Terrorists have not learned from history. Their attack on 9/11 amounted to a 'sucker punch' that did more to unite us than divide.

Japan suffered the full fury of the United States and now international terrorists are suffering the same fate. Like a disgusting disease, they won't be completely eradicated, but their cowardly actions will be diminished, as we have shown our commitment to perseverance.

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