Goodbye, bin Laden

We got him. Finally.

Osama bin Laden is dead.

Yesterday, after months of tracking a lead on the terrorist who was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, a special forces unit of the United States military crossed the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and engaged in a firefight with bin Laden, killing him and recovering his body.

This is big news. I was in 6th grade on September 11, 2001. I remember seeing the Twin Towers ablaze on the television set in my parents’ bedroom. I remember the moment of silence my teacher instructed us to have, and praying in vain for the safety of all those involved. I remember seeing the paper on September 12, specifically the photos of people jumping to their death rather than experiencing the collapse of the towers, with tears coming to my eyes.

Nearly 3,000 human beings died in those attacks. Both towers of the World Trade Center were hit and collapsed; the Pentagon was hit; the passengers of Flight 93 heroically crashed their airplane in the fields of Pennsylvania, an airplane likely headed for the White House.

It was a harrowing experience, the worst tragedy ever to befall the United States of America. To this day, it is hard to even speak of it.

So when I heard the news of bin Laden’s death, I wanted to join those citizens who flocked to the gates of the White House singing, “Na Na, Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)!”

President Barack Obama said it best in his speech announcing bin Laden’s death: “On nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror, justice has been done.”

Indeed, justice has been done. If anyone ever deserved a fate such as this, it would be the mass murdering, bloodthirsty, cowardly, evil Osama bin Laden.

What does this mean for the future?

Does this mean the War on Terror is over? Are our troops coming home?

President Obama made the answers to these questions quite clear: “His death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must — and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.”

Presumably, this means that our troops currently in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Libya are not budging. The War on Terror is not ending.

Obama is right about one thing: al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against America. But is our current foreign policy the best way to prevent those attacks?

Bin Laden was the symbolic, if not still the practical, leader of al Qaeda, and his death deals them a mighty blow. He was by far their most talented and charismatic leader. Their efforts and schemes are, if not completely shattered, severely hampered.

Did we not enter Afghanistan to exact revenge upon the evil men who, in an act of abject cowardice, brazenly attacked us nearly a decade ago?

What was it all for?

Our objectives have been met. Justice has been served. Good has triumphed over evil.

The Taliban was chased from government long ago. Iraq has long had a functioning, albeit corrupt, post-Saddam Hussein government. Osama bin Laden is now dead.

It’s time for our troops to come home.

Let them join the throngs of Americans outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue singing of the demise of bin Laden.

That would be the best way to celebrate.

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