September 11, 2001, a date which will live in infamy. Ten years ago, a group of terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and killed 3,000 Americans in New York City. War had come to our shores, and that war had been declared by the leader of a group known as Al-Quaida. That leader was Osama Bin Laden. For the last decade, the United States has fought a long war. It has cost trillions of dollars and has cost thousands of American lives. But today on May 1, 2011, justice has finally been served.
After a ten year war in Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden has been killed. President Obama gave the order earlier in the week, and a small team of American Special Forces went into Pakistan and took down the world’s most wanted terrorist after a brief firefight. Americans across the nation and people all over the world are breaking out in celebration. There has been no higher goal since 9/11 than the capture or killing of Bin Laden, but it is important to put all of this in perspective and reflect upon just how far we have come.
Ten years ago, we were war thirsty, as opposed to war weary like we are today. President Bush and the Republican controlled Congress declared war on Afghanistan and sent thousands of our men and women in uniform to fight the War On Terror. After a couple years of the biggest manhunt in world history, Republicans shifted the focus to Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with terrorism or 9/11. But we went in anyway, and diverted thousands of troops from the War On Terror so they could fight in a new war on a second front. There was no reason to go to war in Iraq. Bin Laden wasn’t there, he was in Afghanistan. Our government had taken it’s eye off the ball, and Bin Laden escaped. Not long after we entered Iraq, President Bush declared “Mission Accomplished!” on board the USS Lincoln. What mission? What accomplishment? Where’s the justice for the victims of 9/11?
For 7 years, President Bush and the Republicans continued two wars. They spent trillions of American treasure, and sacrificed the blood of thousands of our dear soldiers, all without achieving the goal we had gone to war over in the first place. We were growing tired of the wars. We were going in debt and losing men and women that we cared about. But then came 2008. Senator Barack Obama stepped forward and promised to shift the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan and to capturing or killing America’s number one enemy. Upon his election as President, he did just that. And two and a half years later, we have received justice at last.
Many things have changed and occurred since that terrible day in September. We now have Homeland Security, tighter airport security, calls for democracy across the Middle East, the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, two Presidential elections, five Olympic Games if you count both winter and summer, a change in theterror alert system, involvement in a limited war in Libya, a global recession, nine 9/11 anniversaries etc… The point is, the world has changed tremendously, and the way we got Bin Laden is markedly different from the way we didn’t get him prior to 2008. And that is just as important as the fact that we actually got him.
Unlike the Republican administration from 2001-2008, President Obama did not use torture to find Osama Bin Laden. He did not ignore our allies, in fact, he worked even closer with them. Obama did not base his decisions off of faulty intelligence and, in fact, has improved our intelligence gathering techniques and infrastructure. President Obama did not act prematurely on any one piece of intelligence. He pieced intelligence together over a matter of months before making his final decision to order the operation to get Bin Laden. President Obama also did not divert US troops from the War On Terror to fight an unjustified war on a second front. Obama, in fact, increased our military presence and resources in Afghanistan and escalated the war that Republicans had long neglected.
All of that effort by the Obama Administration and the bravery and resolve of US troops, ultimately resulted in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. President Obama accomplished in two and a half years what President Bush failed to do in seven. He did it even as Republicans question his loyalty to America. He did it as Republicans question his citizenship and religion. He did it without using torture or declaring war on Islam and the Arab world. He did it without striking fear in the hearts of the American people. He did it without hurting American prestige overseas. He did it by working closely with our allies. He did it by NOT using torture. And he did it by being patient, being calm, and making intelligent decisions. The political implications of this moment will be huge. President Obama has scored a major victory tonight among an American public that has been losing patience in the war effort. By killing the face of evil, President Obama has achieved perhaps the greatest foreign policy accomplishment since the end of World War II. As we celebrate the fruition of a goal in a war that has marked an entire generation of Americans, let us also remember how we did it these past two years, and how we DIDN’T do it during those other seven, and what the stupidity of our leaders during those seven years has cost us. For the 9/11 victims and our fallen troops, justice has finally arrived, and America rejoices.