Death of a Terrorist: moving beyond Osama Bin Laden!
When the United States undertook the war against global terrorism, critics around the globe complained that the nation was only out for its interest. When Osama Bin Laden met his faith last Sunday, opinion leaders differed somewhat on the implication; however, the gravity of opinions was probably in favor of the nation’s prerogative for protecting her own and keeping a promise to its people. The subsequent developments over the week are hardly surprising considering that Al Quada and its affiliates are oblivious to truth; they hardly can understand the sorrows and pains from their continued activities. The closure to the experience of that unfortunate September morning was manifested in President Obama's Thursday visitation with the first responders, New York Fire fighters and the police, the family members of the heroes, and laying wreath at the former World Trade Center, now fondly referred to as hallowed grounds. How much of the current development in the fight against global terrorism is worth celebrating? And what, if any, is the implication of Al Quada's announcement that their leader is dead and they are going to take revenge?
Before the demise of Osama bin Laden, there were uncertainties in the air, regarding how long it was going to take before the United States begin to pull her troops from foreign wars. There were already some recriminations in certain quarters, especially by those initially opposed to the voyeurism into Iraq. While there were still tacit arguments for the continuance of the war in Afghanistan based on the President’s schedule, there were already something of a war fatigue in the greater populace. In fact there were indications that there were greater debates already within the White-House regarding the best road to take. Some foreign policy shank wanted the nation to gradually ease out of the war, without doing much damage to what is considered a fragile and developing strand of Democracy in Afghanistan. Others preferred immediate withdrawal. There are good arguments in both camps and no one should doubt that the law of diminishing returns can actually attend to foreign wars or, how a nation conducts one or two, even where its interest is at stake.
The announcement by Al Quada over the week however, must not be taken for granted. Much as we now debate if it is best to pull our beloved military men and women from Afghanistan and Iraq, we must understand a reality: the world is not as peaceful as before and extreme groups exist around the globe, who are willing to do America harm. Many Americans would be satisfied with the President pulling the military men and women back home; however, what do we do when the next attack comes around. We must remain a step ahead of those willing to do us harm. We cannot be satisfied with a minor success in a war that seems to be ever expanding in a world of uncertainties. If Al Quada attacks us or outsources the attack to other affiliated groups of theirs, would we not blame ourselves for pulling back sooner. There is an adage: keep your friends close and your enemies, even closer! We must constantly remain in the proactive mode against the war on terror because the game is one of the survival of the fittest!
The Realist Paradigm
United States sees a world order preferably without global terrorism. Our adversaries see a world order that include the use of terror and fear to make their case, a case no one till date, can actually crystallize. There are arguments that what is good for America may necessarily not be good for the rest of the world; but what is paramount always is for America to always think in terms of what is the best interest of the United States. An example of this reasoning is found in President Obama’s justification for not releasing the pictures of the demise of Osama bin Laden. Additionally, a choice of remaining alert and keeping our troops close to the troubled spots around the globe, is in order. In fact, we cannot afford to completely withdraw from enemy lands or their neighborhood, if we are to understand how they function, what makes them tick and what probably is their next action against us.
We can recall, President Bush was blamed for being reactive after the September 11, 2001 experience. His concept of defending the homeland at all cost, including the adoption of questionable apprehension and interrogation techniques, were lambasted by some in the left. However, all these would not have been necessary, if we had kept a step ahead of the enemy. President Clinton failed to rapidly bring to judgement attackers of the Naval ship SS Cole, either out of oversight or misunderstanding of where the threat was coming from, or the forming cloud of hatred from Osama bin Laden and his cohorts. This probably embolden the Al Quada groups of the world to foment the subsequent attacks around the globe. Now is not the time to completely withdraw; now is the time to ensure that we remain engaged with the enemy. We cannot afford to withdraw now, because we scored a home run in the fifth inning, when the game still has many more innings left.
Redemption and Quiet Celebration of Triumph
There were twists and turns in the initial steps taken to fight global terrorism after the September 11, 2001 experience. Despite the open ended support from congress regarding the use of force to fight global terrorism, the war against terrorism was conducted in a way that made it seem that decisions were being made on a fly-by-night. The clumsiness of our baby steps in fighting terrorism during those early years were not deliberate, but this was our first dance out, and we probably weren't all that sure about the nature of the enemy right after the horror; although we knew a few of his or her tricks. We are today better inclined and probably better equipped to take on the enemy on our own terms.
Withdrawing all our troops immediately because we've been able to knock off the head of Al Quada may project another moment of indecisiveness and probably criticisms by our allies. We must not forget what perceptions of an unconscionable decision could readily lead to. Perception gave the Iraq war a bad name in the beginning and led to departures of some high ranking cabinet members and a threat from our allies to withdraw their troops. Any failure or unconscionable decision to manage our most recent success, may lead to another schism and to avoid that, we must take our time in thinking through, what is the best line of action to take after last Sunday's experience.
Hedging against failure and re-ordering the strategy of war against global terrorism is probably in our best interest. Mulling over demands at home for immediate withdrawal of the troops may look very appealing; however, what is our long term strategy. The continuous withdrawal of our troops from Iraq made sense after the initial hostility; and the perception of drawing down of our troops from that hostile front was appealing to the people. However, in light of our recent success in hunting down Osama bin Laden, there are still some unanswered questions regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan. Unless we truly understand the dynamics of that area of the world with regard to brewing terrorist groups, we must endeavor not to quickly jump into decisions like pulling all our troops away from that region of the world. Yes, the sluggish economy calls for much more radical public policies to bring down unemployment; however, we cannot return to the catch up mode in our fight against global terrorism.
While war fatigue has gradually been eroding the support for the continuance of the war on terrorism, there is probably no other time for us to get to the bottom of the fact that there are some countries considered too huge to fail harboring terrorism or terrorist groups. While this might not need a huge army presence in a place like Afghanistan, there are some issues regarding what is going on in Pakistan. There are now probable agreement that Pakistan is the heart beat of terrorism and it may just be worth our while to watch over the nuclear assets in that country. While not predicting the unfathomable, there is a probability that some of the terrorists in Pakistan can actually get access to Pakistan's Nuclear Technology, if they haven't, to do harm to us. So, while the focus is on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, we might just be prudent in keeping a very keen eye on the dynamics in Pakistan.
The finding and killing of Osama Bin laden, probably gives America the opportunity to reorder its priorities in the war against global terrorism. Many opinion leaders in congress may be advancing the argument that the initial reason for going to war after September 11, 2001 horror was to find the perpetrator; and, since we’ve been able to accomplish that, it is time for us to pack up and come home. Many Foreign policy experts understand however, that there are so many incomprehensible challenges in the war on global terrorism and it may just not be completely wise to withdraw our troops, once we got our number one enemy. There are some new developments or suspicions regarding the players in the global terrorism and unless we know who is in and who is out, we may just be setting ourselves up for another disaster. Considering that we've been giving money to a country that harbored Osama bin Laden for probably five years, without it announcing it to us or accepting any reasonable blame for this difficult to believe oversight, it may just be reasonable to take a very deep breath before making our decision regarding when to pull and how many of our heroes in uniform to pull at this time.