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Would the Capture of Osama bin Laden Mean Victory in the War on Terror?

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Tuesday evening on CNN I was watching "The Situation Room" and I couldn't help but notice that there were a significant number of minutes dedicated to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. First there was Wolf Blitzer's interview with the president of Pakistan (Pervez Musharraf, the entire interview was about capturing OBL), then there was a story about the newer technologies being used along with an alleged sighting of OBL within the last month. Hmmm... I wonder why there's all this talk of Osama bin Laden now?

It's election season

Following the emotional surge of the 5-year anniversary of the biggest tragedy on American soil since Pearl Harbor, our country is now headed into an election season. This is the most significant mid-term election of my lifetime. This election will determine whether or not our Congress continues to rubber-stamp the incompetent, unchecked, arrogant, imperialistic agenda of the Bush Administration, OR impose true oversight and checks-&-balances on BushCo's grab for power and hegemony. Should we stay the course in Iraq and continue to throw bodies into the fire while inciting global anti-American sentiment? OR, should we give Iraq back to the Iraqis and stop raping their country?

Over the last month or so there's been a lot of talk & controversy about which presidency (Clinton or Bush 43) is more responsible for 9/11 and for not capturing Osama bin Laden. I've already chimed in on that question, so I'm not going to address it this time. Instead, I pose a different question. What if Osama bin Laden is captured now? Think about it. There's a crucial election around the corner, and we're all expecting/anticipating some kind of sleazy "October Surprise" from Karl Rove & Co. Then, mysteriously on CNN, I start seeing news footage about the hunt for bin Laden that eerily seems like his capture is imminent. Clearly, the Republicans need some kind of major event to make themselves look tough (and successful) in the 'War on Terror'. Barring that, it's quite conceivable that the Democrats will take control of one or both houses of Congress (that is, IF the polls ring true and the Republicans don't steal the election again).

If we capture or kill Osama bin Laden have we won the 'War on Terror'? Is this the same thing as cutting the head off the snake? Is this like destroying the central computer in "I, Robot" or "Star Wars II" and all the rest of the robots (i.e. the rest of the Islamic militant population) will simply wander aimlessly?

I don't think so.
  • First of all I think it's questionable at best if OBL is still a leader in the al Qaeda organization, even if he IS still alive.
  • Secondly, we already know that not only is al Qaeda highly decentralized and volatile, but there are a myriad of factions, armies and organizations with 'charters' to hate & attack Western (i.e. American) interests.
  • Thirdly, let's reverse the scenario and assume for a minute that al Qaeda captures or kills George W. Bush. Does that mean THEY'VE won the "War on United States' Aggression"? Obviously not. Our beloved Vice President would step into the president's office (God help us).

Miracles can happen

If by some miracle our military just happens to capture or kill OBL in the next 6 weeks, don't for one minute think that our 'War on Terror' is over or even lessened. Almost every expert on this subject has repeatedly stated that our actions in the Middle East have aggravated & agitated the Islamic community and "...fueled the spread of the jihadist movement..." to quote the recent National Intelligence Estimate. George W. Bush has stirred up the jihadist's hornet's nest and this 'War on Terror' can only worsen. Furthermore, the 'War on Terror' can only be won after we've killed all the terrorists. Nice strateegery, George!

To all you right-wingnuts out there who keep saying "...we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here..." I say "Suuuuuure... now send YOUR son over there to fight that fight and keep us safe here at home." And when he's tragically killed over Bush's senseless / arrogant / unethical / imperialistic / hegemonic / conquest, on his tombstone write:
"He died for a comma"
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Scott Shuster is a progressive columnist, publishing since May of 2005. His liberal ideology is a refreshing diversion from 'politics as usual' in Washington.
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