More on Osama
Three quick additional observations on the death of Osama Bin Laden:
First, as Christopher HItchens’ argues (Slate Magazine May 2, 2011) the Pakistani security elite could not have known his whereabouts. Abbottabad is one of the so-called “hill stations” designed for the rest and recreation of the country’s pampered commissioned officers, leaders of a military establishment that annually consumes several billion dollars of American aid. This was their territory. They live there. As Hitchens says, “It’s the sheer blatancy of it that catches the breath.”
Second, comments that his death guarantees Obama’s reelection are asinine. George H W Bush enjoyed a more comprehensive triumph in winning the first Gulf War in 1991 and with a relatively modest economic downturn lost the 1992 presidential election. Obama’s reelection prospects will be determined by unemployment in states like Pennsylvania. Last time I looked he had a 45 percent job approval rating in Pennsylvania. If the economy double dips the 2012 election is loseable for the incumbent
Third, when I witnessed the demonstrations outside the White House I was struck by how dopey the mob can be. In dealing with Islam in Pakistan, Iran and the Arab world we are dealing with societies that live under great suffocating clouds of paranoia and insecurity. Any surge of Western triumphalism forces Islamic youth into the arms of the fanatical preachers of Islamo-Fascism. As one friend reflected in an email, “Perhaps I have not read enough about the feeling people had on the death of Hitler or Stalin. But should we dance in the street at the death of a terrorist or should we solemnly reflect on the lives fanatics have taken in the name of any number of supreme beings?”
I thought the observation from one commentator that Osama had had no recent role in the tactical or strategic leadership in Afghanistan – quite possibly, in any other theatre of Jihadist warfare – was convincing. Therefore the threat is not reduced by his elimination. We may be in a phase where Islamic terrorism is now focused on local objectives such as blowing up Coptic churches and Sufi mosques rather than global targets. Remember, however, any cell is capable of picking up fissile material and transporting it to Times Square in a backpack.
Either way the movement is repellent and its chief ideologue deserved to be taken out.