Toe2Toe returns

US Navy SEALs kill bin Laden: The death of an impotent has-been or a vital blow to terror?

By Sean Talbot

“The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort.”

President Obama prompted a brief wave of unified patriotism across the U.S. with this comment on May 2, not long after a SEAL team raided Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound and killed him. But there’s a lot to unpack in the president’s statement.

America’s war against Al Qaeda started in 2001 with the prime objective of bringing bin Laden “to justice.” We’ve had a whole decade to dig deeper, to develop more intelligence, allies and enemies. Al Qaeda, likewise, has had a whole decade to train zealous new recruits.

George W. Bush heralded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as wars against singular evils in the world: Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. He wanted to go after those with weapons of mass destruction and the will to use them.

The media helped to depict those ideas as if those two men had no supporters who believed as they did, or would go as far as they would to make a statement. America went to war with figureheads – symbols in and of themselves – and now they are both dead. Now what?

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The war in Afghanistan will persist because it is not always the case that if you kill the leader, the people under him will suddenly start running around like beheaded chickens.

Is bin Laden’s death important to the purpose of the war? Sure. The history books will say that in 2001, America went to war with Al Qaeda, and in 2011, America killed the faction’s leader. And they’ll call it progress.

If America’s troubles are expounded by bin Laden’s fall, the U.S. has a lot more to deal with in the future than one man on the FBI’s most wanted list. An entire generation of Al Qaeda has been coached with bin Laden’s ideology, some of them Americans. They are not happy bin Laden is dead, and have vowed retaliation.

In the grand scheme of the war against Al Qaeda, however, it’s possible that we may be just beginning the fight.

Americans who pay attention to the news know that terrorist plots are uncovered with alarming regularity – as of 2010, nearly 50 were foiled since 9/11.

For others, terrorism is the unspoken fear whenever they board an airplane, but equally unspeakable regulations restrict passengers from discussing such topics on the airliner – indeed, even in the airport itself – for fear of causing panic and anxiety in those who may misinterpret an out-of-context comment. Or they may be hearing a legitimate threat.

Americans take foreign threats rather personally after all, and we have interesting ways of expressing our anger. In the two months following the World Trade Center attacks, hundreds of violent crimes targeting Arab Americans erupted, leading to a quadrupling of U.S. Employment discrimination cases against Arab Americans. Immigration policies tightened to include monitoring of international students and selective deportation of Middle Eastern “absconders.”

Al Qaeda has worked to corrupt the image of America in the Middle East, inspiring a generation of passionate young men to walk into coffee shops with bombs strapped to their chests.

Likewise, much of America has a corrupted view of Islam, giving precedence to those examples of fanaticism instead of the much more widely accepted doctrine of peace.

Certainly, sitting down for peace talks with groups bent on destroying us is probably off the table, but improving the image of the America they want to obliterate is our responsibility. Understanding the enemy – and perhaps more importantly, understanding who the enemy is not – is essential to moving past the constant fear of another September 11th.


By Megan Edge

“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United Sates has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda and the terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of men, women and children,” said president Obama in a press conference on May 1st.

He took a deep breath then continued with powerful statements, addressing specifically the real victims of 9/11.

We will forever remember the men and women lost on what started as a beautiful September day, but we often forget the ones forced to live with this tragedy day after day. The innocent family members, who as Obama puts it, “have an empty seat at the dinner table.”

The children, who will graduate high school, and get married with out their mother or father their to witness it. The parents, who were forced to bury their children, or worse; the parents who never could bury their children. Nearly 3,000 citizens were taken in the prime of their lives on one, devastating day.

These are the people that the men and women of our United States military are fighting for. The killing of Osama Bin Laden is proof that our brothers, our sisters, our mothers and fathers, our husbands and wives are fighting for something real.

They are fighting to bring the victims of September 11th justice.

This does not mean that our troops will come home tomorrow, but it does mean they have made progress. We have finally brought justice to the people of the United States of America.

September 11th will always be a day on which we lower our heads in a moment of silence to remember our fallen Americans, but May 1st will always be a day on which we rejoice, knowing that we live in a country where justice is served fought for.

The war against terrorism is not over however, and there will be more people fighting in support of Bin Laden’s twisted worldview. But for the first time in ten years the real victims of 9/11 can lay their heads at night and sleep knowing that we, the people of America, do not give up.

They will know that their loved ones were not forgotten.

They can have piece of mind knowing that this murderer will no longer terrorize the lives of what would surely be many more.

The death of one individual should not be celebrated, and since the death of Bin Laden there has been criticism from people who think that we are celebrating the murder of another.

By eliminating Bin Laden from the equation we have helped to stop future attacks against the worlds innocent people.

Our soldiers have risked, and given, their lives for a reason.

As President Obama said, “His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”


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