The news came late and I was already visiting the Land of Nod, during which all I could dream about was making stock. Vegetable & meat stock in my slow-cooker. All night long, dream after dream. I kept waking up and thinking, "Augh, another one - why can't I have better dreams?" I've been planning on making that dream come true this weekend when I'll use my slow-cooker for the first time to make vegetable/meat stock, and I've been sort-of looking forward to it, but spending a whole night dreaming about is kind of lame.
When I woke up and checked the news I learned that another dream had already come true. A desire, really, not a dream - an angry, blood-lust desire for death upon that POS ObL. I read the banner headline and, as is typical of me, I had no reaction but an unverbalized need to read more, to learn more, to put the headline into a context into which I could weigh its veracity. ObL dead, they say, but we know that many of Al Qaeda leadership have been declared killed many times, only to pop up alive again whack-a-mole style. The more I read the more certain I became that it was a believable claim, although I will admit that when I read that the body had been dumped at sea I had my first verbal thought, which was "How convenient." I'm a skeptic by nature. I guess it just takes time to sink in when the news is big; further reflection elevated the probability of the truth status of this news to high. OK, look, I hadn't had any coffee that early in the morning and, in retrospect, it probably would have helped things along. The news started to sink in when I got into the shower.
ObL is dead. Well, good.
Surprisingly, that's all it's amounted to for me, in terms of the emotional resonance it's had on me. Not triumphalism, not jubilation, not even satisfaction. Pity, that; I'd hoped to get more mileage out of it. Granted, I'm not one for celebrations in general, but I've gotten more jollies out of finding a stray sawbuck on the sidewalk. I'm not sure why. I still feel anger and sadness at 9/11 when I think about the horror of that day, and I still feel the hot anger and bloodlust well up when I think about the jihadists and their evildoings. I don't know and I'm not going to dwell on it because it's not important. ObL is dead and that's a good thing, even if that's all there is to it for me.
Kudos to our combined intelligence and military which carried out the mission, with well-deserved accolades to follow. Surely the kill-team need never buy their own drinks again. Kudos to the Obama Administration for following through with the pursuit and having the cojones to execute when the opportunity was established. Really, you have to hand it to POTUS Obama: candidate Obama said he would go into Pakistan to get high-value targets, and, by Crom, he has. He's long-since stepped up the missile attacks inside of Pakistan, and with this mission he's ordered a boots-on-the-ground assassination of a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, highest value target. May the Cambodianization of Pakistan continue until we've reached a satisfactory outcome.
There's snark and criticism to be had at the expense of the Obama Administration, yes, but it's mostly persnickety. I will add the following thoughts:
- Assassination mission against ObL, not "kill or capture": good. The potential for intelligence gleaned from interrogation has little promise in this case. Let's face it: there's nothing we could offer to coax it out, and this administration would probably not extract it by force. The fiasco of trying to apply the due process of a civil prosecution which we've already seen with the Gitmo detainees would go to 11 for ObL; better to avoid it altogether.Not surprisingly, there's a chorus from Liberals that the death of ObL means we should get out of Afghanistan. As if that was ever the point. Well, I'll give the hippy-dippy peaceniks credit for consistency on this: when things go well, they see that as a reason we can finally leave, and when things don't go well, they use that as an argument for why we should leave. They did that for Iraq just as they're now doing it for Afghanistan; it's sort-of an unfalsifiable assertion in that regard.
- Burial at sea: good. For exactly the reasons given for doing it, it's good. Granted, my first impulse was far more excessive even than Glenn Beck's ("wrapped in bacon"), so much so that I will not sully this blog with my dark and profane fantasies, but I've reconsidered the matter and the disposal of the corpse as it was done was the correct strategic decision, IMHO.
- The ever-changing details of the mission: sadly, it's to be expected. I've come to the point where I note with a mental "Asterisk of Doubt" all information we get in the opening days of crisis. Even seemingly unmistakable chunks of a story can later turn out to be altogether wrong.
- Not releasing the ObL kill-photo: my loss. I'd like to add it to my collection, as a trophy. At any rate, the era of photographic "proof" has passed for this kind of thing, as everybody knows that, given enough time and a motivated forger with good photoshop chops, one can fake such a thing. It reminds me of a podcast to which I'd listened of an event at the Heritage Foundation, "The Role of Psychological Operations in Strategic Communications" in which one of the speakers describes talking to Afghan villagers after 9/11 and how they didn't believe it happened, even after being shown video. Oh, they knew about airplanes, sure, because airplanes flew over the skies of Afghanistan, but skyscrapers? Why, everyone knows you can't build a building that high! They were convinced it was some kind of Hollywood trickery. At any rate, there is an accounting to be made amongst the Leftists who oppose the release of the ObL death-photo yet clamored for the release of Abu Ghraib photos - another time, surely.
This is why it's important for the Obama Administration to make it clear that our fight wasn't just against Al Qaeda, but rather it is against the jihadists who seek to destroy the West and subjugate the world under Sharia Law. Sadly, of course, he won't do any such thing, as neither he nor Democrats in general seem to believe any such thing.
At the very least there must be a dear price to be paid by Pakistan for their complicity and aid to Al Qaeda, and the jihidists who fight us and our Allies in Afghanistan and India and elsewhere. Perhaps Obama has the temerity to cut off aid; I suppose it possible he might more closely ally the U.S. with India. I'm ready to be pleasantly surprised - but not hopeful.