Cool and calm wins the race. Eight years after George W. Bush declared mission accomplished when it patently was not, his successor Barack Obama has actually accomplished something, gruesome as it may be. Unfortunately Osama's demise is not the end of terror as we know it

There’s an old saying that if you wait by the river long enough you will eventually watch your enemy floating by. It is poignant in terms of the demise of Osama bin-Laden because there’s another saying often used to draw a distinction between the ‘terrorists’ and those who have declared war on them – that the West has all the watches but the terrorists (read Al Qaeda and the Taliban) have all the time.

Well, not so much.

Hilary Clinton put it well when she announced to the terrorists that this proves they cannot out-wait America.

However, before getting too carried away like those involved in bizarre scenes of jubilation in Times Square or at Ground Zero, it is perhaps wise to sprinkle a little rain on this parade.

First, well done to the patience of the US intelligence service and their current Commander-in-Chief – although it is a little creepy to be celebrating an assassination of any sort.

Watching and waiting have not been qualities in great supply in the first years of response to 9/11, but Obama has certainly provided it in spades during the last few months since he was first briefed on the real possibility that bin Laden was within US sights. Laser-like vs shock and awe wins the day.

Perhaps Obama may now be forgiven for taking so long to produce his long form birth certificate. It wasn’t that the dog had eaten his homework after all. It was that he was rather busy on real issues such as catching the world’s most wanted man.

Don’t hold your breath on Obama getting the credit however. Donald Rumsfeld is clinging to the line that bin Laden was caught following intelligence that came from Guantanamo prison, which he just so happened to set up. Let Rummy think what he likes because what he thinks really doesn’t matter any more.

It will be interesting to now watch for the conspiracy theories that will no doubt arise because Al Qaeda’s No.1 was “buried at sea”. Why not bring his bullet-ridden body back to the States so you can prove he’s dead. You know, like a long form birth certificate proves you are an American – providing of course it is not forged! Others will ask why there was any reverence paid to the Muslim tradition of burying the dead within 24 hours of death since bin Laden had no respect for the lives or human dignity of others. But really if some want to take these lines, who really cares about the conspiracists any more?

As Obama ribbed Trump at the Washington Correspondents dinner the other night, Trump now having ‘forced’ the President to produce his long form birth certificate can get on with really important issues such as investigating whether the Moon landing was faked.

Respecting Muslim tradition surrounding burial was smart because the ‘war’ is not against Muslims, and burying (or perhaps dumping?) bin Laden at sea avoids having an exact location of martyrdom at which to build a shrine.

But now for the rain. Unfortunately cutting off the head of this snake does not mean it will slither away into oblivion.

Al Qaeda is an ideology, not a man. Granted it is an ideology that seems to be struggling as its lack of presence during the so-called Arab Spring shows. Muslims in troubled Middle East countries are not in the streets shouting for the institution of Shar’ia law and death to America. Al Qaeda has been nowhere to be seen for the very reason that it can’t produce jobs, health care or political change.

Shooting bin Laden out of the picture is a huge blow to his self-styled multinational organization, just as getting rid of any figurehead is, but this is not the end of terror or Al Qaeda.

His was the face on the ‘Wanted’ poster, but there are many followers who wish to be just as wanted by the West, and they will see him as a martyr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2, is still around and while he doesn’t exactly come across as a charismatic replacement, he can still mix the Kool Aid.

And don’t forget the promise is to inflict death by a thousand cuts. These will be very much on the minds of the US and other administrations throughout the world.

But so too will be the role of America’s ‘great and trusted ally’, Pakistan.

What a shambles. Here was the king of terror living in a huge walled compound an hour’s flight from Islamabad and 800m from a Pakistani military academy within a largely military town of Abbottabad!

It is impossible to believe that the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, did not know who was in this compound which was many many times larger than any other residential address. Sure it didn’t have internet or phone lines, but didn’t someone in a Pakistani uniform ever wonder, just a little bit, what was going on behind those walls?

It proved the perfect cover to be right next door. Like the jewel thief who stands around outside the store after the robbery. Who’d have thought to look in the Pakistani military backyard when there are all those caves in Tora Bora to go fruitlessly searching through?

The Americans may have some explaining to do about breaching the sovereignty of a state and conducting a covert operation to assassinate – and it was without doubt a kill mission as opposed to a capture mission.

But before Pakistan jumps up and down about the breach of its borders, it also has some explaining to do about just how serious it really is when it comes to spending billions of US dollars combating terrorism. It would also be good if Asif Ali Zardari provides some explanation quickly so he can shut down the gloating coming from his Afghan neighbour Hamid Karzai.

Comments (13)

by Mr Magoo on May 03, 2011
Mr Magoo

Without futher independant proof I consider the fact that america buried Osama at sea a conspiracy theory. I base this on past evidence of deception and misidentification by the US. Also that observing muslim burial rights as opposed to the usual "stacking him in a naked human pyramid" is a bit too much like fantasy for me.

And its not that I don't believe he is dead or that they may have killed him. Its just that until I see something other than reports issued from the US military I am considering the case far from proven.

What, its only a consipiracy theory is the majority don't believe it??

What a  world we live in...

by Claire Browning on May 03, 2011
Claire Browning

However, before getting too carried away like those involved in bizarre scenes of jubilation in Times Square or at Ground Zero, it is perhaps wise to sprinkle a little rain on this parade.

I was trying to think what is the NZ equivalent. I suppose it can only be the Rainbow Warrior, multiplied about 3,000 plus plus times. If Mafart and Prieur had escaped - as in a way they did - and been hunted down and killed a decade later, would it have helped closure, or been a cause for joy? They murdered a man - an evil one - for revenge. I think we should weep.

by Hesiod on May 03, 2011

look bin laden got his because he was a creep. stop adding your little homilies and frills. There is no law when it comes to hubris, nemesis and retribution. and what the hell does Obamas birht certificate got to do with eliminating a piece of trash that had it coming. bin laden thought he could buy the world but the ended up just like hitler in his bunker or saddam inhis hole. 

[I wonder if the tone of your comments would be the same, "Hesiod" - the ones you've been treating us to, regularly, over the past few weeks - if you realised we can all see your real name. Just a thought. Ed.]

by Chris de Lisle on May 03, 2011
Chris de Lisle

"although it is a little creepy to be celebrating an assassination of any sort."

I don't think it's any worse than celebrating a victory in battle, except that less people are dead. In fact, for those who subscribe to the war metaphor for counter-terrorism, that's exactly what is happening.

Assassination, while not a good thing strikes me as better than prolonged war. I do not understand why no efforts seem to have been made to assassinate Qaddhafi, for instance. (Then again, maybe they have)

by Matthew Percival on May 03, 2011
Matthew Percival

Without further independent proof I consider the fact that America buried Osama at sea a conspiracy theory

Just a few days ago I was reading on conspiracy theories that Bin Laden died in 2002. Now he's dead and the conspiracy theory is that he's still alive.

You just can't win against conspiracy theories!!!

by william blake on May 04, 2011
william blake

Obama Sin Laden

by Mr Magoo on May 04, 2011
Mr Magoo

First lie: Osama was unarmed when they shot him.

And so it begins...

by Tim Watkin on May 04, 2011
Tim Watkin

Magoo, is it just because it's America that you assume it's all made up?
Still, given the eagerness to see the worst in US actions (and not without some historical justification) it's interesting that the powers-that-be didn't go out of their way to get independent corroborators and to fact-check before they announced. It's now said he was unarmed and one of his wives is alive, contrary to the initial reports. Such errors of simple fact only feed the flame.

Leon Panetta is now saying that the "gruesome" death photo will be released eventually. I suspect it is necessary.

Hesiod, I'm always curious how we move from "he was a creep" to "he deserved to die". Where's the line? And do we cross it with glee like those outside the White House treating bin Laden's death like a frat party?

There aren't enough bullets for the number of creeps in the world. Do we then just kill those who kill? If so, Obama, who gave the order, must be in the gun.

Seems to me the line most agree to is to that "those who kill the innocent on purpose" deserve all they get. But there's so much grey around "on purpose". If you're NATO and you're bombing Tripoli, you might not want to kill the innocent, but you've gotta know it's inevitable. Think of Gaddafi's three grandkids.

Really, surely we should be reluctant to kill at all. Or if we feel moved to do so for the greater good, must do so with regret, humility and seeking forgiveness.

Otherwise we become the monster, no?

by Mr Magoo on May 04, 2011
Mr Magoo

Not at all. I think pakistan have been lying through their teeth also. And Osama was lying to his followers about why they were doing what they were doing.

And now our military are lying about the SAS.

The nature of war includes deception and hiding the truth of itself from the populace who would otherwise find it truly abhorrent. (as a whole)

Currently 'hollywood' and our misreading (and sometimes even misrepresentation) of history glorifies what should be a truly sickening process in the modern age. But its not.

Now why is that?

by Chris de Lisle on May 06, 2011
Chris de Lisle

"I think pakistan have been lying through their teeth also"

I think the Pakistani government is entirely too inept and corrupt to enforce such a secret on the lower ranks of the civil service (The ones who are actually on the ground and would be the ones who hypothetically 'would/should have known').

Especially when that secret was worth $25,000,000.

by Mr Magoo on May 06, 2011
Mr Magoo

Does not change the fact that they lie through their teeth and have been caught out on many things....

by on May 19, 2012

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