On Sunday night, we learned that the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces inside Pakistan. The big question now is what’s next? Some will want all troops brought home. Others will think that the threat to the West is over. We cannot know for certain what will happen. Maybe tomorrow or sometime soon we will see retaliation by the remaining al-Qaeda cells, but this is and will only be speculation until it happens.
On the home front, the news of Osama bin Laden’s demise will be a shot in the arm. It has been nearly 10 years since the 9/11 attack and since then there has been little to celebrate. Afghanistan has been the scene of a slogging match between the Taliban and Western forces, much in part because President Bush decided to turn his attention to Iraq and an old familiar foe. Many Americans bought the story that the Bush administration sold them only to find out later that they were misled by false intelligence.
Iraq was a major blunder in the War on Terror. It diverted much-needed personnel and assets from the legitimate conflict, Afghanistan. Obama tried to make this right. He began a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and redeployed them to Afghanistan. Obama has taken much criticism over this move from both sides of the isle with many calling the war in Afghanistan “Obama’s War”. Well Obama’s War just got serious. Americans have just won their first victory in the War on Terror since the capture of Saddam Hussein in his hidey-hole.
The killing of Osama bin Laden will take some of the wind out of the opposition’s sails. Before the President spoke, the commentators on Fox News had a sound of doubt and defiance in their voices, but as soon as the speech was over they seemed humbled. Obama may have kicked the hornets’ nest so to speak. There may be a power vacuum within the ranks of al-Qaeda or there could be fractures that will start to form without the figurehead to look to. Either way, we could see a new series of attacks on the West. Even if this happens I don’t believe it will be seen as Obama’s fault, although Sarah Palin and Donald Trump might try and spin it that way. No matter what happens now Obama ordered the attack on bin Laden and his death will be seen as Obama’s victory.
There is another thing working in Obama’s favour. For the most part U.S. forces have left Iraq and the pull out of Afghanistan is slated to start this year. With US forces slated to be returning home and Osama bin Laden gone, it will be hard for detractors to pin the Bush wars on Obama going into the next election, leaving him free to start focusing on domestic problems like the debt, which in theory should start to look better once the U.S. is no longer fighting two wars. The combined cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is estimated to be over 1 trillion dollars. No matter how you look at it, Bin Laden’s death is a major victory for President Obama. He did what President Bush couldn’t do and he did it with humility.