May 2, 2011
The United States delivered justice yesterday with a bullet to the head of Osama bin Laden in what appears to have been a textbook operation, capping years of painstaking work. As usual, the conspiracy theorists immediately questioned the reports as a hoax, and the political hacks lobbed their partisan grenades back and forth. Revelers celebrated in the manner of drunken sports fans after the World Series.
Many of us would have willingly been the trigger puller who killed our most reviled enemy since World War II. Some fear revenge, as if Al Qaeda needed a reason to attack us more.
I am glad the man is dead. I am glad we did it. And I am especially glad the job came off with no loss of Americans. But I don’t feel like celebrating. For me to celebrate is to forget what was like on 9-11, and to forget the families who lost people in the attacks and in the war that continues. It is a somber time.
The War on Terror won’t end with Bin Laden’s death. This war began a long time ago, long before 9-11. We just didn’t know it. And, it is not easy to pinpoint a date. But of one thing I am certain, extremist muslims declared war against the United States long before most of us ever heard of Osama Bin Laden. Here is a short list, just a few of the actions taken against the U.S. in this war we didn’t know we were in:
- 1979-Takeover of the US embassy in Tehran and hostage taking;
- 1983-Beruit Barracks bombing;
- 1985-Hezbollah hijacks TWA 847, murders a US sailor.
- 1986-Pan AM flight 73 hijacked in Pakistan, 22 killed, blamed on Libya.
- 1989-Muslim Terrorists firebomb a New York publisher because they were offended by Salman Rushdie’s book, Satanic Verses.
- 1990-An early element of Al Queda murders Meir Kehane in a Manhatten hotel lobby.
The list is endless. But the list is pointless without understanding. Bin Laden’s death is pointless without knowing.
The war is simply a battle between good and evil. Not an abstract archetype, but a fight against evil. Can the war be won? If we win, how will we know? “Where were you on 9-11?” Most of us can answer quickly. If you were alive at the time you probably remember where you were when President Kennedy was assassinated.
If Bin Laden’s death matters, will you and I remember where we were on May 1? It may not matter. What truly matters are the innocent lives lost, and the lives lost while bravely meeting the enemy. “A soldier marches toward the sounds of the guns.”-unknown