Press "Enter" to skip to content

Does Bin Laden’s Death Make Us Safer? Vote Now in MT Global Security Poll!

Intern Kristi Noem says the world is a safer place now that President Obama has whacked al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. I agree (ow! ow! agreeing with Kristi! ow-ow-ow!).

I'll give you my armchair analysis and some further reading in a moment. But first, what do you think? Is the world safer now that Osama bin Laden is dead? Put on your Zbigniew Bzrezinski thinking caps and vote now in the latest Madville Times poll, right here atop the sidebar! Click your pick:

  • Yes, we're safer.
  • No, no difference.
  • No, more dangerous.
  • Trick question! Bin Laden lives!

I welcome your analyses of the global security situation post-Osama in the comment section below. Here's mine:

I've heard concerns that President Obama's successful killing of bin Laden might motivate terrorists to do harm to America and its allies. But bin Laden's boys and other whackos have expressed their determination to destroy America from the get-go. We've killed plenty of their operatives and leaders before; bin Laden's just one more tally scratched on the bullet-riddled cave wall. (By the way, if I'm waging jihad from an Afghan cave, and I find out the boss is living it up at a swanky mansion in the big city, I'm a little miffed and maybe a little less motivated to fight. Then again, how much fun can bin Laden have been having with no Internet?)

Now suppose there is some motivating effect to bin Laden's death (call it the short-term bunching up of risk Mr. Woodring suggests). Suppose some group of terrorists was tinkering with some really spectacular hijack plan, but they were taking their time, gathering intel, patiently and logically mapping out the most effective plan of attack (you know, kind of like our Vulcan President did with the Abbottabad raid). They learn we killed Osama, and they freak out and decide to accelerate their plan so they can be the first guys to avenge the boss. Those guys are idiots. The stupid terrorists get emotional, rush their plans, and increase their chances of failing. That leaves us safer.

Meanwhile, the smart terrorists stick with the status quo, cooking up the same plots of death and destruction they had in the chute before we killed bin Laden. If any significant terrorist attack happens in the coming year, it was probably already in the works before the May Day surprise we delivered to Abbottabad. The next jihadi who manages to blow up a plane or embassy or what have you will say it's vengeance for bin Laden, but if bin laden weren't dead, that jihadi would still commit the same crime and call it vengeance for any number of other perceived sins of the West.

The excuses the terrorists give for their murderous actions don't gauge the real security threats we face. Al-Qaida's basic motivation for destruction remains unchanged; for our security calculus, it's their assets that matter. America just eliminated one useful asset. Osama bin Laden had money, connections, intelligence, and brand power (quick: name one other active al-Qaida leader). Even if bin Laden's qualities were waning, he was still a net positive for the organization. Losing bin Laden weakens al-Qaida and makes us safer.

And consider the new threat situation for al-Qaida: even if bin Laden was just eating grapes and playing solitaire all day, his mere existence diverted a whole lot of American brains and boots and guns. Now a few chooper-loads of Navy Seals just got the best live-fire target practice ever and all survived to turn to the world and say, "Who's next?" Our men just freed up a bunch of American resources to acquire other targets. Al-Qaida isn't just weakened; it should be scared stiff. Many of these terrorists will be spending more time running and less time planning and executing effective attacks against us. Again, we just made ourselves safer.

Arguably, none of this matters much to me, as riding my bike on Highway 34 through Madison probably puts me in more direct peril than Osama bin Laden ever did. But thinking globally, I feel a just a little safer this week. How about you? Give your say-so in the poll and the comments below. Poll runs 'til Friday breakfast, when I'll feature the most interesting comments. Tell your friends, and vote now!

More big thinking:

Update 22:41 CDT: Pastor Shel shares concerns that Christians in largely Muslim countries may face increased risks.


  1. Stan Gibilisco 2011.05.03

    I don't feel any safer, nor any less safe.

    Am I the only one who found the "dancing in the street" celebrations just a wee bit vulgar, just a wee bit ridiculous, just a wee bit haunting?

    The monster within ...

    After the death of Sauron, the people of Middle Earth simply got on with their lives. Mission accomplished -- so there. Even with dragons and talking trees and six-foot spiders among them, they kept their wits.

    Hillary did say it best when she told the evil ones, "You can't wait us out." That should just about do it.

  2. mike 2011.05.03

    I'm inclined to agree with Mayor Giuliani. Short term it will be more dangerous because it stirs up the radicals. Long term we are safer because he's gone.

    This was a symbolic victory because he was already marginalized but it shows the USA will get the bad guys no matter how long and hard the fight.

  3. mike 2011.05.03


    I also did not care for the dancing in the streets. Who does this? (you see this on the tv all the time in other countries) Weren't most of these college kids 9-12 years old when 9/11 happened? If that is how they want to celebrate that is ok but to me it was rather emotional to reflect back upon nearly 10 years of war and the chaos this one person caused. I'm glad he's gone but it is a quiet feeling of victory because we are still fighting and the mission still isn't over.

    When I saw Obama's press conference and then they went to kids outside the whitehouse waving giant American flags my mind went to the movie "Wag the Dog" and the scene were Hoffman and Deniro are throwing shoes in the trees as patriotic symbolism.

    Maybe there is some politics to the celebration but in the end good for the people who got UBL and they deserve the praise. It's a good day. I'm proud to be an American and I'm happy to see people celebrating their patriotism.

  4. RGoeman 2011.05.03

    Any time you can eliminate the symbol that bin Laden had become, eluding our forces for almost ten years, continuing to harm people all over the world, it is such a moral victory and maybe it feels as simple as "good versus evil". We are not safer, but leaders who want to emulate bin Laden and take over as the new symbol of terrorism have to think about the fact that we did not give up, we hunted him around the globe, found him and destroyed him. That will continue and they know it. Plus, we now have intel information that will advance our effectiveness in locating and removing them.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.05.03

    Indeed, Rod, we're short a couple helicopters, but I'll but the intel we got from the operation was worth that loss.

    Stan and Mike, I agree on the dancing in the streets. I understand the psychological impetus for jubilation, but when we kill a man, and when many more of ours and theirs have died, to protect national security, a more sober response seems appropriate.

  6. Nick Nemec 2011.05.04

    No internet! How do know he wasn't stealing his neighbors wireless?

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.05.04

    An overseas correspondent offers what strikes me as a reasonable response: he can't rejoice at this death... but he finds it even more difficult to mourn. "I'll chalk it up to 'whatever' and keep my eyes open."

    Nick: Darn wireless thieves! But I'll bet he shunned even that: tracking that traffic to the immediate neighborhood would have posed to much of a risk to the hideaway. He could have used the old Al Franken mobile uplink!

Comments are closed.