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:
- Northern Valley Beacon wonders if killing bin Laden signals a chance to draw down our war effort and reduce our threat of national bankruptcy.
- Displaced Plainsman considers the fiscal, moral, and consitutional costs of the War on Terror. (Related Word of the Day: pyrrhic?)
Update 22:41 CDT: Pastor Shel shares concerns that Christians in largely Muslim countries may face increased risks.