No doubt the killing of Osama Bin Laden is a monumental benchmark in our near-decade long “War on Terror”. What’s important now is how we, as the American people, react to it. Many should be commended for the successful strike on bin Laden: the intelligence community for tracking the courier, the President who signed off on the operation and the forces that carried it out. It was an historic moment and one long past due for this country, especially those who lost loved ones on 9/11. While it is fine to bask in the euphoria of the moment, it is vastly more important to stay focused on the big picture here.
For the past decade, we have sacrificed thousands of soldiers lives, millions of civilian lives and trillions of our national treasure to occupy the Middle East in our global “War on Terror”. Though despite the tragic cost, it has unfortunately amounted to little more than background noise to the American people. A fixture in the American psyche. To the current Millenial generation and even the coming-of-soldier-age generation born in the mid-90’s, war is all they have ever known. A time without war is a foreign concept in their minds. This has disastrous implications for our future. We cannot afford more war, we cannot afford a generation apathetic to war-protest.
Osama Bin Laden’s death is our golden chance to change that trajectory.
It is well known at this point that bin Laden has not been operational in Al Qaeda for years, he is merely a spiritual figure to that community. His death does precious little for our larger goals in Afghanistan (as parlayed by Sec. Clinton here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/02/hillary-clinton-osama-bin-laden-death_n_856271.html) The “war on terror” will not stop, we will continue to spend billions every month on drone strikes, on-the-ground forces, and training a corrupt Afghan police force. If one were to look only at the actions and consensus of the U.S. federal government, one would expect at least another decade of war and blood. Even our democratic Vice President makes no bones about staying beyond our already far-off, supposed “transition” date ( http://articles.cnn.com/2011-01-11/politics/afghanistan.biden_1_afghanistan-vice-president-joe-biden-nato?_s=PM:POLITICS). It is clear the only way to stop this senseless effort now is through the most cynical and shallow of all methods: electoral politics.
Earlier this year, a poll was taken (http://afghanistan.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/03/cnn-poll-u-s-opposition-to-afghanistan-war-remains-high/) showing opposition to the Afghan war being as high as 63%, which is a majority of Democrats, Independents AND Republicans. The public is absolutely not on the administration’s side for Afghanistan. So why haven’t they been listening to us? Two things:
a.) The government is ultimately beholden to the Military-Industrial Complex, the war-makers and profiteers.
b.) Politicians are anesthetized to public scrutiny by a corporate media that ignores us and is also beholden to special interests like the MIC (as shown recently in the post-Rolling Stone-McChrystal media freakout).
Getting to my point, bin Laden’s death will inject the Afghanistan efforts value back into the national conversation, in a big way. It will awaken the newer generation to the cause and context of this war, it will enliven those who have long opposed it, we have been given back the megaphone. And we must note the golden value in the TIMING of this development, as we gear up for another presidential election season. We absolutely MUST utilize the media’s ensuing Afghan war discussion to make our voices heard, and pressure President Obama by telling him either his administration definitively ends the Af-Pak campaign by the stated 2014 end date (if not, sooner) or we will not support his already-fragile re-election effort. Strike while the iron is hot, it may not be again for a while.
edit: For the many on this particular site whose vote the President already lost (I completely empathize, trust me). I urge you to still pressure the President as if he still does have a chance at your vote, if only to get him to make a solid pledge on this issue. We may have lost health care and finreg, but we CAN have this. And that’s damn worth it, IMO.