The path of jihad began in a cave on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, but it wasn’t buried in the bunker where Osama bin Laden was just killed. It was a happy day for the War on Terror, but jihad will continue to strike Jews, Christians, and Western “apostates.” Two-thirds of al-Qaeda’s senior leadership has already been “incapacitated.” Jihad isn’t based on “Führerprinzip,” the German belief that everything depends on one man. Instead, jihad is like a Hydra with seven heads: Cut one head off and two others will take its place.
A couple of days ago, a bombing destroyed a café in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, killing eleven foreigners. In Israel in just one month, an entire Jewish family was butchered in Itamar, a bus was bombed in Jerusalem, a schoolboy was killed near Gaza, and religious Jews were killed at a Biblical tomb. Bin Laden didn’t order those killings.
The killing of Ahmed Yassin, called “the Palestinian bin Laden,” didn’t halt Hamas’s genocidal agenda. The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi didn’t stop the daily carnage in Iraq; the surge stopped it. The killing of Imad Mughniyeh, labeled “the Shia bin Laden,” didn’t change Hezbollah’s homicidal plans.
The death machine we confronted in the World Trade Center atrocities and ever since in Afghanistan and Iraq was set in motion by two events a couple of years apart in Iran and Egypt: the Khomeinist Revolution in 1979 (the first suicide bomber was a Shia terrorist in Lebanon in 1982) and the killing of President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. Iran is now building a nuclear bomb; it just sent two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time in 30 years, and Tehran has just reestablished diplomatic relations with Egypt. Instead of congratulating one another around a corpse, the White House, the European chancelleries, and the West-bashing media should focus on the tragic return to 1979.
— Giulio Meotti is the author of A New Shoah.
Bin Laden was just a part of al-Qaeda, which is just a part of the Islamic terrorist effort, which is just a part of the Islamist movement, so the announcement of his death last night by the U.S. government makes little operational difference. The War on Terror has not fundamentally changed, much less been won.
But because bin Laden symbolized Islamic terror, his taunting presence via video and audio recordings for nearly ten years after 9/11 energized his allies and frustrated his enemies. Conversely, his execution by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, gives Americans pride in their country, encourages our security and intelligence organizations, and is a body blow to Islamists.
What to watch for ahead:
(1) On the American side, will the sudden unanimity and pride last for more than a few days? Or will the Left’s usual reluctance snap right back?
(2) Concerning the Islamists, how severe will the reaction be to the Zardari government’s acquiescing to American forces killing bin Laden on Pakistani soil? And how much will Americans and American interests abroad and at home be subject to terrorist attacks in response to the execution of the jihad’s symbolic leader?
— Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
James S. Robbins
Taking out Osama bin Laden will not guarantee Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012. In fact it would be surprising if President Obama received any long-term political benefit from this outstanding good news.
President Obama may enjoy a momentary bump in public approval based on the general wave of good feeling now that recent history’s greatest criminal is dead. But reality will set back in hard — and soon. President Obama’s crushing national debt has not vanished. Despite a momentary contraction in crude-oil prices, gasoline and food prices will continue to soar. All the critical domestic problems that President Obama faced before the Navy SEALs showed up in Abbottabad are still there. And these are the issues that determine how people vote.
Bin Laden’s death will paradoxically put President Obama in a national-security quandary, because it will be harder to continue to make the case for “overseas contingency operations” now that the number-one contingency is gone. The “war of necessity” in Afghanistan will seem a lot less necessary, whether it is or not. The struggle with terrorists will continue, as will TSA groping and the other indignities Americans put up with in the post-9/11 world; but with bin Laden dead the White House will be put in a position of continually having to explain why the war — which it refuses to call a war — is not over.
Bin Laden’s demise will be a rousing applause point for Obama supporters in the 2012 campaign, but the election is a long way off. President Obama went into this week with an approval slump that more accurately reflects his reelection prospects. Parading bin Laden’s head on a pike, metaphorically speaking, will not change any of that.
— James S. Robbins is senior editorial writer for foreign affairs at the Washington Times and author of This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive.