Monday, May 2, 2011

Now that Bin Laden in dead, what's next?

Nearly every American hailed the news late Sunday evening that American Special Forces had killed Osama Bin Laden in a raid on his safe house in Pakistan.

Democrats, Republicans, Tea Parties, Greens, independents, we were all brought together in a way that we really haven't been since 9/11 itself.

That excludes a few, who in the tradition of 9/11 "truthers" and "birthers," decided that the Osama had not really been killed and that it was all an elaborate political hoax. I dub this new crop of morons "deathers." I'm sure we'll hear a lot from them in the next couple of years.

For those of us grounded in reality, the question becomes, what's next? What effect does justice finally catching up with the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have on the world?

Well, from a crass political perspective it probably makes it more likely that President Barack Obama is re-elected in 2012. The odds had been leaning that way anyway, given the lack of a popular challenger on the Republican side. Even Republicans don’t seem enamored with their likely candidates.

With Obama having corrected the largest failing of both his and his predecessor's administrations, he'll see a surge in his poll numbers. However, military success doesn't always lead to re-election. If it did, the first President Bush would have been re-elected in the wake of Desert Storm.

The details of Bin Laden's capture -- he was found in a more than $1 million compound in a wealthy suburb of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad that  U.S. sources described it as an area where numerous retired Pakistani military officers lived -- are troubling. The compound was built in 2005, apparently to house Bin Laden.

Those facts make it almost unthinkable that the Pakistani government, which has taken billions of dollars in U.S. "anti-terrorism" assistance and was officially our "ally" in the war on terror, knew where he was hiding and didn't tell us.

That suggests the need for, at the least, a re-thinking of our relationship with Pakistan. That re-thinking may have begun when we didn't inform them of the operation against Bin Laden until it was over.

In a larger sense, the end of Osama Bin Laden could well mean it's time to re-think our entire Afghanistan deployment.

It may even be time to question if the era of the "War on Terror" is over.

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