Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What does Osama's death mean?


Wyoming, from here

Pakistan, from here


I was reading Al Jazeera, and came across some really well-written pieces on the significance of Osama Bin Laden's death -- I recommend this one, which really took me back to the period immediately after the WTC attacks in new York, and also this one, which struck me by the comment that al-Qaeda had been unable to launch a significant attack for a while now.

I am not going to comment on whether the US did what was right by killing Bin Laden.  Frankly, the existence of war and ideals potentially worth going to war for illustrate that right and wrong are too complex for that conversation.  And I have seen too many facebook statuses and tweets that try to boil it down too far, that death in all forms is wrong (which I really want to believe!).  But there is part of me that feels perhaps our foreign policy can move forward, perhaps this is closure some Americans needed.  Let's not forget, 9/11 was not the first time Americans were targeted by Bin Laden, and it feels a bit like we have vanquished the monster in our closet -- the ever-present threat that we could never quite coax into the light.

But I for one don't feel safe.  On a travel-y note, I have to say that I will be flying into the US in a week, and I am nervous as hell.  Do I realistically believe that my plane will be hijacked?  No.  (Disclosure: I am a nervous flyer, anyway!)  But the fact that we are even still thinking about this, ten years later, shows that on some level, terror did win.  Terror has frozen us, compelled us into mostly reactionary security practices, and certainly taken me over sometimes when I travel.  I hope the bloodthirst -- on both sides, but that's hardly likely -- will calm down now.  I like my world in one piece.

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