Clearly no American is going to shed any tears for Osama bin Laden, me included. And based on the president’s statement last night, it sounds like the operation that got him was of the right kind–targeted, based on sound intelligence, avoiding both American and civilian casualties. If we’re going to fight terrorism, this is vastly preferable to “shock and awe.”
That said, it’s hard to be too giddy about this when you consider the road we’ve traveled over the last decade. Nearly ten years after the inauguration of the “war on terror” we find ourselves with two protracted wars we’ve been unable to bring to a decisive or satisfying conclusion; trillions of dollars spent, further contributing to a ballooning national debt; untold thousands of dead–both American troops and foreign civilians; and an engorged national security apparatus that has pushed, and sometimes broken through, the boundaries of values we profess to hold dear. The Obama Administration has taken some important steps back from the brink (ending torture, winding down operations in Iraq, e.g.) but hasn’t gone nearly far enough. If this is what winning looks like, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.