Sunday, May 1, 2011

v2, d327: Big Bad

I was too tired to post last night, so tonight was going to be my account of Robbie's and Isaac's first Astros game.  Then this great big historical event happened, and so I suppose it's necessary to leave a comment or two, in case this blog is someday one of the last threads of our civilization left to historians. (On the day Osama bin Laden was killed, a little boy in Texas got very excited because of a train) 

The architect of the greatest terrorist attack on American soil is dead.  He was killed by American special ops soldiers somewhere in Pakistan.  And the few details that have so far emerged about the encounter are nothing short of trilling.  A small team of soldiers came in to a mansion where bin Laden was hiding, fought their way to him during a 40-minute firefight, killed him, recovered his body, and made it out without losing anybody. 

Earlier this evening, word leaked that President Obama was going to address the nation, but that the subject was unknown.  Soon it came out that it was about national security.  Due to the late hour, many speculated that this was bad news, possibly something about Ghadafi.  Later, word leaks that it's not about Ghadafi, it's about bin Laden.  He's dead.  And we have his body to prove it.  CNN called Pakistan, and they said, "Yep, he's dead. And we helped!"  News stations started to report how incredible it was that they had no idea this was coming, that the CIA was able to keep a top-secret mission a secret for over a week.  (Yeah, how about that?)  I first heard of the happening when I saw Kinsey's facebook status: "bin laden is dead?  really?"  And I thought, Really?  So I checked CNN, and they were pretty confident.  Clicked on the TV and saw a small crowd of 30 or so people crowded out at the front of the White House cheering and chanting U.S.A.  (At that point, they were on TV, so they were joined by thousands of college kids and twenty-somethings.  They're still there, actually.  I think there may be drinking involved)   (Another parenthetical note: A similar crowd has assembled at Ground Zero in New York City.  Bet that place is absolutely electric right now) 

Now, we wait to see what will happen.  Of course, people are already claiming political partisanship over the act.  "Obama just earned himself another term!"  "Bush is more responsible for this than Obama is!"  Honestly, I think credit goes more to the CIA than either party, but whatever.  People across the country are, for the most part, really stoked about this.  Bin Laden has been a household name for almost a decade.  He's been the penultimate Bad Guy for just about every American since 9/11.  So hey, we got the Big Bad!  Unfortunately, this isn't a video game or fantasy novel.  Wiping out the Big Bad doesn't mean the minions will give up, run away, or combust.  The fortress isn't going to suddenly collapse.  In the short term, we're probably less safe now than we were a week ago because of this.  And long-term, it's debatable as to whether or not we were in any more danger from the man.  Regardless, he was in still in many ways a spiritual and inspirational head for hundreds or thousands of terrorists around the world.  This will be a big-time emotional blow.  And there will probably be some severe counter-attacks for the next year.  I hope our forces are ready to step up their game.  A man in a suit on CNN just said "It's almost as if we've won a war" and "We finally won one!"  Neither of these statements, nor their insinuations, are accurate.  We've won no wars, but we have destroyed one of the most avowed (and successful) enemies in U.S. history.  Also, it isn't true that we've been batting .000 on this front.  Terror rings have been broken up in the U.S. and across Europe, bombings and other attacks averted, due to the men and women who have devoted their lives to fighting this sort of threat.  And the fact remains that we haven't been hit with a substantial terror attack since 9/11.  I feel like saying "We finally won one!" undermines the great work these folks have been doing. 

Nevertheless, Osama was far more than just a loose end that needed tying.  As long as he lived, he'd be fighting to take more lives in whatever capacity he was able to manage.  And it was true that he had actively evaded our attempts to bring him to justice for almost a decade.  So yes, this is a win, make no mistake about it.  A win that, honestly, most of us had given up on.  I know I expected he'd die of old age and we wouldn't know about it for years.

Now many folks are expecting our troops are "coming home."  Our soldiers have been overseas as long as I can remember.  Kuwait, Bosnia, Somalia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, you name it. It's unrealistic to assume that taking out the Big Bad means everything is over.  Please continue to pray for our troops, because they may have more of a fight on their hands now than they've had before.

So there you go.  A stunner of a night.  Lots of things to come out over the next several years: who was or wasn't hiding what in Pakistan, conspiracy theories re: the timing of this operation, denials and counterstrikes from al-Qaeda, et cetera.  Whatever happens, this was a game-changing night.  You'll remember where you were.