As I think everyone in this country and perhaps the civilized world knows by now, Osama Bin Ladin was killed last night in Pakistan by U.S. Special Forces on a direct order from the President of the United States. As Mark Twain once wrote, "I have never wished a man dead but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."
In a different world in a different time, the news of the death of Hitler was met with similar celebration. The death of Mussolini slightly less so. And of course the capture and eventual death sentence of Sadam Hussein was also a cause for satisfied whooping in this country.
Bin Ladin was in his sixties with a terminal case of kidney failure so his time was, in all probability, nearly up anyway. It is unclear just how much 'leadership' he was still employing as opposed to simply being a symbolic and iconic figure for his followers.
Although I have been a vocal liberal nearly all my life, when it comes to national security and safety of American citizens I have always been on the side of the hawks. After 9/11 I, like most of America, wanted swift, deciding, vengeful action. It was not to be. In fact, G.W. Bush, either frustrated by his inability to get at Bin Ladin or, as Michael Moore asserts, because of his family oil ties with the Bin Ladin family, chose instead to divert America's anger and invade a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, fabricating instead a fantastical 'weapons of mass destruction' myth which plunged this nation into a long and virtually unending conflict with a savage dictator who, undeniably, needed to be displaced but, I would have liked, under more honest circumstances.
It has become, over the years, unmistakably clear that Bin Ladin orchestrated 9/11. This was an act of war against this nation. And for that alone he became a participant in the war and fair game for military repercussions.
I believe Bush hunted Bin Ladin relentlessly. I don't buy into the idea that he 'really wasn't trying' to find Bin Ladin. I don't accept Michael Moore's thesis, as much as I admire Mr. Moore. To think otherwise would be to activate a cynicism so deep and extraordinary as to plunge me into a lifetime of anger and rage. Subsequently, I simply cannot believe it.
Our president may very well have secured his second term with this recent turn of events. I certainly hope so. His work has only just begun and he's making great and history-changing strides. He is, in my opinion, despite enormous political divide in this country at the moment, staying true to the course and daily striving to do the right thing. Yes, he has been forced to compromise. Yes, he has made concessions. And yes, he hasn't always been as swift as I would have liked. But, like Clinton before him, he shows up everyday and doesn't quit despite brutal and inexplicable opposition from a segment of our population mired in early twentieth century thought.
In his address to the American people last night he said quite clearly, "I ordered it. I did it." I liked that very much. "I ordered the death of this man." It's a heady statement in the geo-political world climate of 2011. Bravo, Mr. President.
In essence he was saying, "We will accept economic attacks, economic downturns, world chagrin, international name-calling; we will accept the scorn of the world as we reluctantly wear the mantle of global policeman, but we will not accept violence visited upon an American citizen anywhere, anytime. In fact, more than that, if it is done, you will be hunted down and killed regardless how long it takes."
The responsibilities and diplomacy of being the last military super-power does not extend to turning the other cheek. Sometimes, unreasonably, I confess, I wonder why we even continue the plodding negotiations to make the Arab extremist Muslim countries inclusive in the world order. I have often thought, sometimes shamedly so, it will never get better until the American flag is flying, unabashadedly, over Tehran, Bagdad and Cairo. So why not just do it and get it the fuck over with?
But then I remember that this country, despite it's 235 years of proclaiming to be uncompromising, is in fact, built upon compromise. The genius of our system of government, it has always seemed to me, has been compromise itself, not the rejection of compromise. It is inherent in our constitution; what the founding fathers had specifically in mind. Checks and balances, separation of powers, freedom of speech and religion, freedom of the press, and rejection of dictatorial privileges. Compromise is our greatest strength, not our greatest weakness.
I am proud to be an American citizen today. I am proud justice has been, albiet ten years after the fact, served. I am proud that our president said yesterday, behind closed doors, we will carry the burden of power under nearly impossible circumstances, we will suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, we will steadfastly pursue our commitment to democracy and the tenants of existing in a Republic. But we will not have hands laid upon us. We will not negotiate through violence. And we will never stop hunting for the unfortunate souls who think otherwise.
See you tomorrow.