I didn’t have the television on last night, so I didn’t see the President’s speech. Instead, I learned about the death of OBL via twitter.
My first reaction: is that a joke? If so, it’s not funny.
Because, frankly, after nearly 10 years, I assumed that he was never going to be caught, but would instead remain in Pakistan for the rest of his life, while America pumped trillions of dollars and thousands of lives into the mire that is Afghani and Packistani unrest. (Oh, wait…)
My second reaction: I hope this brings some sort of closure to people who lost loved ones on 9/11, and it’s a powerful political symbol. So now what?
I don’t mean that in a flippant way. I mean: what comes next? OBL was the ostensible reason for our invasion of Afghanistan, which has no end in sight. (2014? I doubt it.) It was the spring board for the shrub to invade Iraq; the WMD blather would never have been sold if we hadn’t already had a massive build up of troops and equipment in the region. It has made our relationship with nuclear-armed Pakistan much more fraught. OBL is dead…but the US military is (presumably) not going to be pulling out of Afghanistan or Iraq now. So what next?
Other thoughts on the subject:
+ The burial at sea is bound to anger many Muslims, and give conspiracy theorists the opportunity to speculate that he is not dead and this was all just a political maneuver to bump Obama up in the polls.
+ I’ve read that OBL was given the opportunity to surrender but refused to do so; am very curious what would have happened if he had done so. Would he have made it to trial? Would the special ops group have made it out of the region with him? Was he even triable — meaning, what was the source of the evidence against him, how was it obtained and would it have been admissible?
+ All the reports I’ve read indicate that OBL’s compound was located an hour outside of Islamabad, in close proximity to a significant military training center. Not hiding in the mountainous border region, in a remote area in which it is easy to get lost. In an urban/suburban neighborhood of what is essentially a garrison town. Maybe I’m wearing a tinfoil hat, but the idea that ISI didn’t know he was there seems questionable.