Osama bin Laden -- and the eventuality of his capture -- does not matter one whit. Not to us, and not to the world.
January 8, 2008
I really don't have the time or the patience to expand on this more than you see here at the present moment. If there's enough commentary -- especially of the naively simplistic kind -- I may say more about it, but there's really no need.
FACT 1: Osama bin Laden does not matter one whit to the security of the United States or of our allies. The movement he champions does, of course -- very much, in fact -- but he, as a man, does not.
As any person with experience in this area will tell you, removing a figurehead -- or even an actual leader -- does little or nothing to stop (or even to slow down) a terrorist, insurgent, or militant cell or organization. As I've personally seen, both as a journalist and in another capacity, terror cells are like the mythic Hydra. Cut off the head, and several more will simply pop up to take its place. There are ALWAYS successors waiting in the wings to claim the slain leader as a martyr, step up recruiting, and continue operations. What must be done to defeat terror networks and organizations is to attack the body and to attack the sources of their sustenance -- i.e., to limit their pools of recruits, and to kill or capture those already doing the dirty work.
FACT 2: Osama bin Laden is not even a large enough symbol in our War on Terror to be worth another mention, let alone a concerted effort -- monitored directly by the President -- to find and eliminate him. 9/11 took place, with his funding and with the planning of his lieutenants. That's great; it's the network that matters, not the man. For further evidence, what has OBL been able to accomplish since the 9/11 attacks, which he claimed responsibility for but did not actually take physical part in? Outside of releasing a few video tapes, absolutely nothing. He's impotent, and poses no threat to the US that is any greater than the sum of al Qaeda's fighters, who are loyal not to him, but to the radical Islamist ideology of death and destruction.
Killing or capturing Osama bin Laden would make headlines -- for a few days. If a Democrat was President, we'd be told that the War on Terror was now over, and that we could feel free to forget about the threat of (don't say "Islamist"!) terrorism and go back to the neurotic class warfare that is the bread and butter of Democratic governance. If a Republican were president at the time of capture, we would be reminded that it took years, that we really weren't any safer, and that we made bin Laden what he was in the first place anyway.
Regardless, al Qaeda would continue to exist, and to be as strong as ever, and there would be no meaningful benefit to the US from capturing one man who is as ineffective and worthless as ever at the present time, anyway. The War on Terror isn't just "not just about one man" -- it's not about that one man at all. What more evidence do we need, besides OBL's own impotence since 9/11, than the fact that the only time he is ever mentioned -- beyond the occasional release of another worthless audio or video tape -- is when Democrats who are as ignorant as can be of the true scope and importance of the GWOT pull his name back out again to beat like a dead horse in an attempt to score political points?