Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bin Laden Is Dead

It occurred to me this evening, as I watched the news reports of Osama bin Laden's death, that this must be how Americans felt in the spring of 1945 when they heard that Hitler had died.

I've been watching the spontaneous gathering of jubilant Americans outside the White House, chanting "U–S–A" and singing the national anthem.

It's appropriate, considering that the 9–11 attacks were widely compared to the attacks on Pearl Harbor, that bin Laden should be killed almost on the anniversary of Hitler's death.

And, in a way, bin Laden's death is more satisfying. He did not take his own life, as Hitler did. Instead, he apparently was killed by the actions of American forces.

We will never have the satisfaction of bringing him into a courtroom and making him answer for those thousands of deaths. But what happened today may have always been the closest we could ever have expected to get to justice in this case.

Bin Laden's death does not mean the end of Muslim terrorism. That war will continue, probably indefinitely. Because of where it occurred — Pakistan — I would expect that his presence in that country will raise new questions and issues. It may also affect America's relationship with Afghanistan, which can reasonably claim that it was right all along, that bin Laden had not been hiding there.

That may or may not be the case. And tonight, it isn't really important.

Sure, there are things that demand our attention. Many Americans who are living abroad will be at risk of being targeted by terrorists for retaliation in the days, weeks, even months ahead.

But this is a rare time of celebration for a nation that is weary.

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