The Corner

Seizing the Offense

Killing Osama bin Laden definitively affirmed the power and determination of America. It is a severe blow against all Islamists and a clear victory for the C.I.A and the U.S. military. As a result, nations across the globe will be more willing to cooperate with American national-security operatives. 

That OBL was hiding in plain sight next to a Pakistani military academy demonstrates the complicity of the Pakistani government. An embarrassed Islamabad will scramble to excuse its hypocrisy.  This allows the U.S. military, if the White House seizes the moment, to step up attacks against other terrorists inside Pakistan, especially along the Afghan border. 

For Mullah Omar and the Taliban, the death of OBL is triply damaging. First, it signals that the next American raid could come against the Taliban headquarters in Quetta in southern Pakistan. The Taliban’s leaders will have to disperse. Second, America may strike with more force along the Pakistani border, interdicting the free transit of Taliban forces and equipment. Third, Taliban morale — the willingness to fight among the low-ranking fighters — will be lowered if the U.S. mounts even a modest propaganda/information-warfare effort. How the erratic Afghani president chooses to play this card in his secret negotiations with the Taliban is unknowable. But there is no doubt that the Taliban has been psychologically hurt by the elimination of Osama bin Laden. 

In sum, the pursuit and the killing of OBL present the opportunity for unsettling the Taliban, whose greatest advantage heretofore has been their sanctuary in Pakistan. 


A former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine, Bing West embedded with dozens of platoons in Afghanistan and wrote three books about the course of that mismanaged war.


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