On September 11th, 2001, our nation suffered a devastating wound. Over time, this wound has resulted in a permanent scar. To say the least, no one in America who was of memorable age on that day will ever forget how they felt.
In the ensuing months and years, America was taken on a wild ride. First, a war in Afghanistan was launched in direct response to those responsible for the attack. After less than two years, a second war was launched in Iraq. The merits of these military campaigns were discussed, debated, and argued. Undisputable facts revealing misinformation about WMD’s, links to Al Queda, and links to 9/11 swayed the vast majority of Americans against the war in Iraq. The sheer length and loss of life caused even more to question our purpose in Afghanistan. As these long wars progressed, most Americans gave up hope of ever finding the man behind the attacks which led to both wars.
On May 1st, 2011, that man was killed by a bullet in the head from a United States Navy Seal. Much as I will always remember being in Ms. Bock’s English class on September 11th, I will always remember waking up to a phone call from my brother Michael asking me if I was watching the news. Excitement, disbelief, shock, pride, and a touch of reflective sadness all rushed through my mind. I imagine that mix of emotions is similar to what most others felt. 9/11 was such a shocking event that it created a common, collective American experience. It is only natural that almost all of us have similar feelings when we are brought back to that day.
Once the reality of Osama Bin Laden’s death sunk in, my mind began to swirl. Details of how it happened were quickly revealed, yet many circumstantial questions still remain. Despite what is still unknown, what we do know speaks volumes: The men and women involved in the operation to kill Bin Laden were meticulous with detail and professional with execution. From the initial lead one and a half years ago, to the subsequent intelligence gathering, to the combat execution, all participants deserve a nearly unparalleled amount of credit and gratitude. According to all accounts, President Obama was heavily involved in this operation from the beginning. He led five meetings with the National Security Council in regards to this mission. He waited patiently, allowing time for intelligence officials to vet the information until a preponderance of evidence pointed to Osama Bin Laden living in the compound in question. Once this reality was established, he and his team weighed the different avenues of attack, ultimately deciding on a military raid over a bombing.
In short, President Obama did what a Commander in Chief should. He displayed strong leadership in making an informed, calculated decision on the best course of action. From beginning to end, the entire process was the complete opposite of the sort of leadership and decision making that led the Bush administration to take their eye off the ball in Afghanistan, and move towards Iraq. Let the records show that the Bush administration was largely unwilling to pursue any military operations in Pakistan without the consent of the Pakistani government. That sentiment was echoed by John McCain during the 2008 presidential election. Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, disagreed. He declared emphatically, “If Pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down Bin Laden and take him out, then we should.”
Despite this important accomplishment, a plethora of questions still remain about what will happen as a result of Bin Laden’s death. The future of Al Queda, Pakistan, international terrorism, and the war in Afghanistan are all difficult to predict. For the present, however, the death of Osama Bin Laden has given America an unexpected lift. For many Americans, it makes the scar of 9/11 less noticeable. For others, it is merely a stitch in an ever bleeding wound.
For all Americans, it is a positive source of common pride, the likes of which are few and far between.
Let’s all enjoy it.
– Scott Bloomberg, Co-Founder & Treasurer of PACmen