James C. Banks

Victory: Rejoice, Therefore

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2011 at 12:35 am

When I heard that Osama bin Laden was dead, I was too tired to join the revelers in the streets and had already returned home to the Virginia suburbs anyway, but I did crack a beer to punctuate the moment (which was recent enough so that I am still drinking beers from the same case).  There have been a number of voices, ranging from thoughtful to ludicrous, arguing that someone’s death is not something to be taken lightly, and that celebrating the death of a mass murderer makes us emulators of his supporters in the Middle East.

Such arguments, though, assume that Osama bin Laden was no more than a person. While there is no doubt in my mind that he was human (all too human, really), he was, more than that, a symbol of a conflict that wasn’t going to end as long as he was in corpus.  His death last week demonstrated to America that the trauma of September 11th could really end; that the conflict wasn’t a permanent conflict; that mass murderers are mortal. 

While this will not end the War on Terror tomorrow and someone (hopefully lacking bin Laden’s charisma) will probably take bin Laden’s place, bin Laden was the last enemy from the War on Terror whose life simply had to be taken.  America no longer needs to think of how it should keep fighting, but rather how it can wind down a ten-year battle.  Since bin Laden’s death was the main objective of the War in Afghanistan, we have attained victory (if at a high cost). 

General Eisenhower famously said that the Allies would accept full victory and nothing less.  Last week, the United States saw this was still possible in the War on Terror. We’re ready to start beating our swords into ploughshares again. This is definitely something worth celebrating.

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