Editorial: Obama Gets Osama

“BIN LADEN IS DEAD” reads the headline in Monday’s edition of the St.  Louis Post-Dispatch, taking its place alongside those momentous  stories which imprint themselves on the collective memories of all  Americans.  Nearly 10 years after the horrific attacks on September  11, 2001, Osama bin Laden, the  infamous leader of Al Qaeda and mastermind of attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the USS Cole and the bombing of two U.S. Embassies in Kenya and  Tanzania, finally received swift and definitive justice.

The death of bin Laden ends a quest by three Amer-ican  Presidents to bring this odious mass murderer to justice, and it represents a victory for ALL Americans – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and independents, liberals and conservatives, Americans of every race, creed or national ancestry.  It is of great  significance that former President George W. Bush broke his post- presidency silence to warmly congratulate President Barack Obama on  the success of the mission which eluded him and former President Bill  Clinton.

As Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces under our precious  Constitution, Obama demonstrated coolness and backbone in ordering the strike based on “actionable intelligence” of  the whereabouts of bin Laden, oddly in Abbottabad, a quiet  city outside Islamabad rather than, as previously surmised, a dank cave.  It’s quite important to note that, at least according to press reports, Obama ordered the strike without providing Pakistani officials advance notice, for fear of sabotage from bin Laden sympathizers within that government.  By commanding a special forces team to carry out such a  mission on foreign soil (including the use of deadly force, as was needed) without permission of the sovereign, the Obama administration might have put to rest any serious suggestions of weakness or reticence to act in the toughest of circumstances.

The death of bin Laden does not in any way ensure the death of Al Qaeda and its  various affiliates and other groups which embrace its agenda.   President Obama, in his dramatic and powerful statement Sunday evening made  it clear that the war against global terrorism does not end with bin  Laden’s death.  The elimination of this ultimate terrorist  criminal, however, is a huge blow not only to Al Qaeda but to like-minded terrorist groups all over the world.  

One such group is Hamas, which issued a release stating that Osama bin Laden was a “Holy Warrior” whose death should be mourned.  This, however, was the minority view, as the vast preponderance of mainstream Muslims in America and around the world are showing relief and appreciation  that Osama bin Laden is dead. As Obama said, Bin Laden, was  “not a Muslim leader; he was a terrorist leader.”  It has been  reliably estimated that in all Al Qaeda has killed over 15,000 people  since its murderous campaign of terrorism began, and 8,000 of those killed were Muslims themselves.  Al Qeada in Iraq engaged in  sectarian violence aimed at fomenting conflict between and among the  Shia and Sunni Muslims of Iraq, the Kurds and the small Christian  community.

There was little question of the general tenor in America.Spontaneous patriotic celebrations erupted outside the White House, at New  York’s Times Square and at Ground Zero itself, along with many at  colleges and universities across America.  While online folks fairly debated whether any celebration of death is a good thing, it’s clear that the elimination of this monster who’s authorized unspeakable acts elicited tremendous and wholly understandable emotional release.

Yes, we will remember just where we were when we heard the news that  at long last Osama bin Laden had been brought to justice-just as we  remember  the Allies’ WWII ultimate triumph over the evil of Nazi Germany,  militarist Japan and Fascist Italy.  This huge blow to Al Qaeda,  whose agenda embraces a horrific intent like that of the Axis powers, provides those on the correct side of history a moment to reflect on our efforts and resultant success.

We know that Osama bin Laden’s death cannot bring authentic  “closure” to those who lost loved ones on 9/11 or to the families of  soldiers who have fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Their anguish will continue, often unmitigated, and no amount of retribution exacted can substitute for their losses.  But a major step forward has been taken in attaining justice in the global war on  terrorism, and this is a moment which all Americans can both  celebrate and savor for its historic significance and moral certainty.