I’m happy that “Osama ‘been shot.” (Like that little pun there?) The world is better without such a jacka$$ running about plotting and executing senseless and mass violence.
So since we all, probably, agree on that, let’s take a moment to consider the “next thing.”
What that is, is: was Osama Bin Laden worth two wars, over $1 trillion, countless lives, a dramatically more divided country and a fundamentally changed international dynamic?
I’d say, “no.”
Why? Because we should be treating terrorists like criminals rather than like terrorists.
By calling a terrorist such, by having a war on terror, we immediately let them win. Sure we can pursue them (for decades) and spend government-crippling sums of money doing it and maybe eventually “get ‘em,” but in taking such an approach, we ensure that our struggle against extremism is crippled, protracted and more likely break us while it emboldens our enemies.
Terrorists are not special, they are just a different breed of criminal.
It does not matter why someone tries to rob a bank, whether for religious, cultural or monetary reasons. The bottom line is that they are committing a particular offense and should be pursued and tried accordingly.
We call them terrorists because we already know that it is their intent to provoke a disproportionately large reaction from us by committing an offense whose main significance is symbolic.
They want a never-ending war on terror where we spend all of our resources, act beligerantly, dirty our reputation internationally and make their ranks swell by taking actions that they’ve predicted we’d take and which they’d describe as aggressive signs of our imperialist intentions. Proving them wrong is possible, cheaper and it’s the right and responsible thing to do.
Basically, terrorists are saying, “I want you (America) to freak out, and start another Vietnam-style war, and then another after that until you’re bankrupt and hate each other so much you can’t even pass a budget (…).
And when we started and then continued the War on Terror, we answered, “Okay.”
There are plenty of ways to condemn or legitimize what we’ve done since September 11th, 2001. The past is done, however.
What we have to remember now is that, if we ever did before, we certainly no longer have the luxury of making rash decisions and acting on national and untempered anger. We cannot allow ourselves to be played in such a way again. For one reason we cannot afford it financially. For another as the last remaining super-power, the de facto biggest kid on the block (for now Re: China) we have a responsibility to the world to act prudently in the name of peace and global stability.
We may still be a young nation by world-standards, but we cannot act like it.