So Osama bin Laden is dead, apparently killed by U.S. forces in a firefight in Pakistan.
Does this mean the "war on terror" is over now that the face of Islamic terrorism is no more? Or was he just the symbolic face of Islamic rage, resistance and hatred towards America which will live on in the acts of others who will continue to exact their revenge on us?
Does it mean we will pack up and leave Afghanistan and end our clandestine wars in Pakistan and Yemen?
Will we now dismantle our unnecessary military bases worldwide, stop our extraordinary rendition of suspects, their indefinite detention without charges, their torture and denial of habeas corpus?
Will we significantly reduce our bloated defense budget or continue to build nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers along with other unnecessary armaments?
That now we'll embark on peaceful pursuits, rebuild our economy with the "peace" dividend that would come from the dismantling of and the need for a defense budget that is larger than the defense spending of all other countries combined in the world.
Or will we continue our endless and absurd "war on terror", continue to build armaments against adversaries that no longer exist, justify our pre-emptive wars and occupations against countries that are no imminent threats, continue on our militarism and imperialism because "enemies" continue to lurk out there and we must be ever ready to defend ourselves?
From here, regrettably, the death of Osama bin Laden will likely change nothing.
We will undoubtedly continue to justify our bloated armaments spending because it provides jobs and because we're the largest exporter and supplier of armaments in the world which also reduces our trade imbalance.
And besides, radical Islamic, jihadist, fundamentalist extremists are still lurking out there and ready to do us harm.
So instead of just celebrating the demise of the world's #1 terrorist (which will be short lived) and seriously reflecting our policies vis-à-vis terrorism and our absurd and obsessive focus on fighting it worldwide (which contributes mightily to our fiscal imbalance while making us the world's greatest debtor nation ever) we will likely continue on our present disastrous course.
The death of bin laden isn't like the death of Hitler which hastened the end of war in Europe and the subsequent surrender of Japan four months later.
The days of imperialist wars and world conquest among nations are over. Those wars have been replaced by an endless "war on terror". The enemy which had a face in bin Laden will now be faceless and amorphous and probably presented as even more dangerous and dreaded.
America seems to need "enemies". If there are no real threats (imminent or otherwise), invent them and contrive them as real (Iraq and Saddam Hussein as well as Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda). Osama's death, as with Saddam before him, will change nothing.
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