Now what?

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.


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4 responses to “Now what?

  1. Anonymous

    This is a great post.
    Yes, I think ISI had to know he was there. You don’t buy a big piece of land in a town like that without people finding out who it is, and there would have been lots of workers while the house was being constructed. Even if OBL moved in much later, you just don’t keep secrets like that over there. The military neighbors would have wondered what was up.
    I wonder if this will provide the excuse to get troops out of Afghanistan. We can’t go in to Pakistan instead, the military and political ramifications are way too severe and the elections are too close. I’m thinking we declare victory and go home, a la Vietnam, and hope for the best. Of course, Obama would have to worry about something horrible happening in his 2nd term, so maybe they’ll stay in large numbers. I really don’t have a good prediction.
    But what do you want to bet the only people now who care about Gitmo are the hand-wringing civil rights types? /sarcasm
    Sunita (I’m only anonymous in the LJ world)

    • Hi, Sunita.
      I am of two minds about the effect on our occupation of Afghanistan. I’m sure it will increase pressure for our withdrawal, but I wonder how it could be done without alienating absolutely everyone. Except we seem to do that no matter how we respond, especially since we’ve backed the corrupt Karzai administration.
      Gitmo…I’m still extremely disappointed that it’s still open, and that KSM is not going to be tried in a civil court. I fear it won’t “close” until every last prisoner has disappeared, one way or another.

  2. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one wondering what this means. I do hope it brings peace to all those who were personally affected by 9/11. I do remember the horror I felt as the buildings fell but I wasn’t physically there. It was surreal. There were so many people who lost loved ones that I hope the death of BL gives them some peace.
    After that, I’m not sure what happens. I asked my family if they thought BL was still the head of terrorist operations. Sure, he was probably a symbol for terrorists but I’m not sure how active a wanted man can be.
    And for some reason I don’t have a problem with BL being an hour outside of a major military center because I don’t really buy into the idea that governments are all knowing. I think people (my brother being one of them) watch too many movies where a government response is so immediate they believe the government can do anything. That’s when I remind people of Katrina. That was eye opening. Anyways, hiding in plain sight – he was probably safer there than in any mountain as they carpet bombed the hell out of them.
    What I don’t understand is how anyone can assign a faith to BL. I was told he was put to sea because the body had to be dealt with within 24 hours according to Muslim faith. As far as I was concerned, anyone who kills without remorse gives up any rights of faith.
    And I personally don’t think OBL was going to make it alive out of that compound. And I don’t think OBL would have left the compound surrendering either.
    Gitmo and torture scare me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. But then I studied history so I know of the horror men can do to each other. And there is a part of me that wonders what President Obama found out when he was sworn in that he backed off closing the facility. That’s when I wonder if ignorance is bliss.

    • While I do think hiding in plain sight is what kept OBL alive for a long time, I’m skeptical about OBL not being known in that particular place. Neighbors notice when 12 foot walls are built; they discuss who is doing the building and speculate about what will go on inside the walls. And Abbottabad was the military center. It seems equivalent (to me, others may not be as cynical as I am) to having the Unibomber living across the street from the gates of the Naval Academy or West Point.
      I think Gitmo is never going to go away. And it shames me as an American citizen, because I can only speculate and fear that the reason prisoners there won’t get a fair civilian trial is that they were tortured and all the evidence against them is tainted.

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