I thought I’d offer some random observations…
First off, I agree with my fellow BIG THINKER Kris that it’s most unreasonable to fear terrorist retaliation. That’s not only because the odds are overwhelming that almost all of us will die some other way, but because our government has done a fine job of diminishing the capabilities of terrorists over the last decade. We should be more grateful than we are.
I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised by the intensity of the elation that came with the news that, in the words of our president, “justice was done.” Bin Laden had been marginalized for years, and his demise has little real strategic significance. But it is always good to be reminded of the highly competent and stunningly routine heroism of our special forces, and certainly America needed a victory. And justice was done, after all.
I actually am happy for our president that he was able to fulfill a campaign promise, just as I’m happy to be reminded that he’s been serious about continuing President Bush’s war against terrorists. As the full story unfolds, we’ll be particularly impressed, I think, by the competence and resolution of CIA director Panetta, General Petraeus, and Secretary of State Clinton. We were reminded that sometimes our commander-in-chief and his advisors have to act secretly and alone–while keeping Congress and and our so-called allies (in this case, of course, Pakistan) in the dark. This was an act of war.
Without dealing with the specifics at this point, a debate is just beginning about the ways we acquired the crucial intelligence that produced this invigorating success. President Bush won’t be completely vindicated, I suspect, but matters will turn out to be more complicated that many of his critics have supposed.
I really appreciate the facts that bin Laden needed just to be killed and his body disposed of immediately. Some trials are luxuries we can’t afford. (Can I say he needed to be killed for something like the reason Nixon needed to pardoned–to decisively put a national nightmare behind us?)