The Death of Osama : What Does It Mean for Obama?
On Sunday May 1, 2011, The Cable News Network (CNN) flashed a headline which said the President of the United States, Barack Obama, was about to make a statement to the nation, and indeed the world. The network went on to alert viewers to the fact that the statement was related to matters of national security.
Understandably, the world was on edge. What could warrant the President of the U.S. giving a statement from the very important East Room of the White House at 10pm on a Sunday night? Theories ran wild. Some said life had been found in space, others said the world might be ending and some even assumed he might be resigning. After some 45 minutes of waiting, the 44th and only African American President in the history of the United States, told the world “Osama Bin Laden is dead.” Within minutes of the announcement, throngs of Americans flocked the outer walls of the White House, Times Square and Ground Zero; celebrating the death of the alleged mastermind of the greatest terror attack in the history of the U.S., perhaps the world. So the man who ordered 9/11 is dead, what does that mean for the commander-in-chief who presided over the mission which took him out?
When we look at the issue from a purely political perspective, this is obviously a huge plus for Obama. George W. Bush, who inaugurated the war on terror, would have wanted nothing more than to be the one who caught Bin Laden. You’ll remember he declared “we will bring you to justice, or bring justice to you.” So for the 8 years of the Bush Administration, the capture or killing of Bin Laden was of prime importance, unfortunately Bush was unable to achieve this feat. While it’s not yet certain how exactly Republican leaders will now react to Obama as it relates to his national security agenda, you will also remember they have often criticized him for being too soft in that regard, it must be of significant importance to the country as a whole that Obama was the President to do it. Bin Laden’s death couldn’t have come at a better time for Obama. The economic situation has proven difficult to solve and he has been taking a battering at the polls. The last poll numbers I saw from CNN indicated that he had a 45% approval rating. He has been drawn through the mud by so called “birthers” such as Donald Trump who contest how factual is Obama’s claim to American born citizenship. The brave decision of Obama to send US agents into that compound in Pakistan without complete certainty shows his complete commitment to the task of keeping America safe and solidified his claim to the Oval Office . This is certainly going to help him come 2012. What better national security credentials could he possibly present than to say he killed the man who brought America to it’s knees?
Still, the death of Osama Bin Laden is not without it’s questions. In fact, it raises several questions. The original story was that Bin Laden was armed and fired at the U.S. agents, it was subsequently revealed by the White House that he was unarmed. Does this revelation hurt the Obama administration? It could certainly lend credibility to the Al-Qaeda argument that the U.S. is seeking to murder muslims. After all, if he wasn’t armed, why not take him into custody alive? Why murder him? On the flip side, what would be the political backlash had he been arrested and brought to the U.S. for prosecution? How would U.S. taxpayers feel about that scenario? Still yet, is that justification for murder? I don’t think it helps Obama’s push to reach out to Muslims and stop the recruiting of Al-Qaeda. They will certainly use the fact that the U.S. killed him, even though he was unarmed, to fuel their anti US propaganda. So has Bin Laden’s death done the U.S. and Obama more harm than good in terms of national security? Arguably yes.
There will certainly be reprisals and attempts to avenge the death of Bin Laden. The Obama Administration must then be cautiously jubilant, the real work starts now. Obama, if he wins a second term, will have to ensure that the U.S. isn’t attacked on his watch. It would be a severe blow to Obama’s legacy if that should happen. I daresay it may even overshadow the fact that he was the President who caught Osama. The Obama administration will need to be the most vigilant it has been since taking office.
Finally, should the administration release the graphic photos of Bin Laden’s body? There are sustained arguments against this move, but I say Obama ought to. The fact that Osama Bin Laden led Al-Qaeda by giving himself a near godlike status must not be ignored. Many of those young boys who are perhaps enthusiastic about joining because they felt Al Qaeda was elusive and even invincible, will certainly rethink their position when a picture of the infamous leader is presented with a bullet to his forehead and chest. The argument against releasing the photos states that it is an indignity, but did those victims on 9/11 have a chance at a dignified death? Those persons who were given the cruel choice of jumping hundreds of storeys to their death as opposed to burning alive, who gave them that choice? Obama must release those photos to show that justice will always prevail over those who would seek to perpetuate hate and violence against innocent people. Persons will perhaps wonder if my position on this is inconsistent with my post about posting graphic pictures of the dead but I believe Bin Laden doesn’t that dignity. He doesn’t deserve any sort of privilege or honour. He was a murderer and a proponent of hate and violence. The devil himself.
Well done Mr. President, the world salutes you.