The operation carried out by the Navy SEALS is obviously one for the history books. Bin Laden was living in a large walled compound (a “million dollar mansion”) in an urban area, not far from a military base, and he had to have had at least the tacit permission of elements of Pakistan’s security apparatus in order to do so. The danger to the SEALS was beyond calculation. They could not have a definite idea of what awaited them inside that compound. Yet, if all the reports so far are true, the operation was carried out with no American losses or injuries, in the space of forty minutes on the ground. That’s nothing short of fantastic. The military did their job with heroism and precision, and that has been the recurring story in the war that began on 9/11/2001.
The intelligence agents who located Bin Laden deserve kudos. However, for the intelligence community as a whole, the judgment has to be: It’s about time. That the quality of intelligence has been one of America’s greatest weaknesses in recent years (really decades) is beyond dispute. We can hope this is a sign that things are getting better.
And kudos to President Obama for authorizing the mission, and being willing to go with the risk rather than with bombs dropped from thousands of feet. He made a good decision; although, with the compound having been discovered last August, it’s been a long time coming. Thank God that it didn’t turn out to be another missed opportunity.
It is good that Bin Laden is gone, because it removes his ability to propagandize and taunt the U.S. and Europe in the wake of terrorist attacks. It will no doubt dismay some of his followers. However, the impact of his death on the morale of the enemy is considerably less now than it would have been soon after 9/11. The fact is that the kind of people who would be his most ardent supporters have other things on their minds at the present time. They look around the Middle East and North Africa and see nothing but opportunity: Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and more — all potentially moving towards Islamist regimes of some kind. The establishment of a Muslim caliphate was always Bin Laden’s overarching goal. With the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood in ascendancy across a vast swathe of the Middle East, the true believers must feel they can almost taste it. For this reason, although I’m glad that Bin Laden has met earthly justice and will personally do no more harm, I can’t join with the champagne guzzling and dancing in the streets. The timing is bad.
It is possible, however, to rejoice unreservedly in the knowledge that the global warming advocates have lost one of their most credible spokesmen.