Monday, May 02, 2011
A Very Good Thing
"Ya hear about the woman that got shot?"
First thing out of his mouth.
He snorted derisively and turned back to his computer screen.
"Bastards. He got what was coming to him," the soldier said. "I'm good with it."
Danny Woodyard served in Iraq twice. Like most soldiers who actually pulled important duty, he is pretty taciturn about it. Today was no different.
The "he" to whom Danny was referring, of course, was the late and not lamented Osama Bin Laden, who had gotten himself whacked by Navy Seals in a small fortress in Pakistan. During the firefight one of the "warriors" defending the compound attempted to use the body of a woman to shield himself. She was killed. More on that later.
Make no mistake about it. Osama Bin Laden had it coming. Not only was he the mastermind behind 9/11 which took the lives of over three thousand innocent people, his actions ignited a conflagration in Afghanistan where the Taliban had given him aid and comfort. Eventually, the United States invaded Iraq creating thereby a two front war. We may debate whether there was adequate cause to invade Iraq. What is not subject to debate is the United States and its allies have expended a tremendous amount of blood and treasure in a most unsettled part of the world largely because of one man.
Which made Osama Bin Laden a legitimate military target. And not merely for the sake of retributive justice. But because a man like that, who still had cachet on the Arab street, whether it was waning or not, was still dangerous.
And so while I am appreciative and grateful that our government was able to insure that he was taken out I can't say that I rejoice. Terrorism is a tactic. It is not the enemy. It will not end with the death of Bin Laden. Not while religious fanatics with access to technology that hate America still breathe. And we cannot delude ourselves otherwise. The bad guys will attempt to retaliate. It may take them some time. But retaliate they will.
Which brings me to my second point.
We shouldn't be too quick to try to find the hand of Providence in the elimination of Bin Laden from the planet. I don't believe for 5 minutes that God intervenes in sporting events, causes tornadoes to destroy homes and cities or that He gets an assist in Bin Laden's extermination. Al Qaeda's god represents vengeance and blood atonement. We need not stoop to that level even as we give thanks to closure of this chapter of American history.
Which brings me to my final point. While I'm not big on conducting military operations for symbolic reasons. I am comfortable in saying that symbolism is a completely efficacious side effect to Bin Laden's death. Al Qaeda is made up of death glorifying fundamentalists and mysogynistic nihilists, one of whom thought nothing of using a woman's body to protect himself. Such an act is less than cowardly. The coward might attempt escape first. The adherent to radical Islam does not believe that girls deserve an education and that they may be raped with relative impunity. Such a man would naturally have no hesitation in using a mere woman's body for cover.
Osama Bin Laden was the living embodiment of the man who hid behind the woman the night the Seals came to call. It is a good thing that he is dead.
I do not rejoice particularly. But I know that it is a very good thing that the son-of-a-bitch is dead. Osama Bin Laden and his soldier that hid behind the woman.