From 9/11 to 5/1

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What a hideous, unworthy enemy this is. Consider the parallel images of 9/11 and 5/1: Yes, Americans cheered the death of a mass-murderer, but the enemy cheered for mass-murder. Americans and their armed forces strive to protect the weak, the unarmed, the innocent; the enemy targets them for slaughter. America weeps when innocents are killed; the enemy dances in the street. America was sickened by the hecatomb of September 11, the enemy emboldened by it. America teaches is children that war is a last resort to be avoided, the enemy that war is a divine commandment to be followed.

America is not perfect. America’s leaders are not perfect. Without doubt, innocent people die because of U.S. military action. But the undeniable difference between bin Laden’s kind and the U.S. soldier or airman, sailor or Marine is motive and intention: As bin Laden once put it: “We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians; they are all targets.” U.S. forces do differentiate—and they go to great lengths to prevent the loss of civilian life. We see the difference by the way the enemy defines success and by the way we react to military failure: we court-martial people, change targets, scrub missions, order bombing pauses, investigate, apologize and invest in ever-more precise weapons to somehow protect innocent life while doing the dirty work of global security, policing the world’s toughest neighborhoods and defending America’s interests.

Even now—even though the one-man terror superpower known as Osama bin Laden has been sent to wherever mass-murderers go when justice catches up with them—those interests still need protecting. Just as the targets on 9/11 were symbolic to the enemy, so is the killing of Osama bin Laden largely symbolic—a potent symbol, to be sure. It sends a powerful message about America’s resolve, resilience and reach. But it doesn’t end the battle that was joined on September 12, 2001. The jihadists and their patrons and partners killed Americans before and after 9/11, with and without bin Laden’s direction. And they will continue their war until their leaders and foot soldiers go the way of bin Laden.

Let us hope that 5/1 infuses America and those who defend her with a renewed sense of resolve to hasten that day.

Alan W. Dowd writes on defense and security issues.


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  • ImaFreeAmerican

    This was a great day for America. This is the one and only time I appreciated Clinton's words when she said that the enemy can't wait us out and that we're here until they're defeated. It also showed them our resolve when President Bush said America would get him dead or alive. America kept it's word.

  • Gunner57

    I found the jubilation about the death of OBL to be rather bizarre. I hadn’t expected it.

    I find it hard to believe all those partying hard today have spent the last decade in constant anxiety because of OBL remained alive. Had they lived in terror all these years, this kind of celebration would make sense perhaps. But, these people have mostly spent the last ten years watching sit-coms and buying trinkets at the mall. These are the same people that are oblivous to the threat Islam poses to United States within our own borders. Many of them would go along with Obama'a assertion that Muslims should be allowed to build a victory monument at Ground Zero.

  • Gunner57

    …What their reaction tells us is just how much our population are willing to allow their reactions to events to be dictated by the subtle cues they pick up from the media. The event, beginning with Mr. Obama’s speech, has been framed by the media as a momentous occasion for our nation. Because most people do not question the narrative presented to them by the media, they celebrate when told to do so. They do not pause for reflection let alone a moment of refreshing skepticism.

    Given the OBL’s body was disposed of at sea, it is not clear how we really even know that he is dead. We also don’t know that if he is dead that he was indeed killed in the last 24 hours. There is no proof save the word of the Obama administration. Given this lack of evidence, the general gleeful reaction seems even more unwarranted.

  • kafir4life

    bin Laden is fish feces. The difference to what he was the day before as a muslim is the fish.

  • affinity

    does it really matter. OBL could have been dead for 8 years–books have been written about his death years ago. what matters is that there are 10,000 more terrorists like OBL waiting to take his place. perhaps a time to be glad but then lets get back to work and infiltrate every mosque in the USA with FBI agents not afraid of Islamic wrath

  • Lillith66

    Read this if your stomach is strong enough…mainly read the comments….

  • GypsyTyger

    Great article. The only thing I would say is that this was not the work of three administrations. It was the work of two. Clinton did not take Bin Laden seriously and from what I understand squandered at least 3 chances at him.

    • tagalog

      President Obama deserves credit for one thing for sure: when it comes time to pull the trigger, he doesn't shy away from it.

      It was gutsy to order the SEAL attack instead of the bombing. On the other hand, we're lucky it went the way it did because we could have come out of this with dead SEALs and no bin Laden.

  • ApolloSpeaks


    Click my name a read my piece on the signs that prefigured bin Laden's death under Obama.