I found out through Twitter that Osama bin Laden had been killed, and had time to watch the live speech President Obama gave about the death of a mass murderer. I thought it was a good speech — I especially liked that he mentioned that the United States is not and never has been at war against Islam — but it left me feeling conflicted. I didn’t want to go out and shoot off fireworks or dance around in joy. If this had happened nine years ago, before we had a chance to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, maybe I would feel like celebrating. The fact remains that more than 3,000 people died on Sept. 11, 2001, and thousands of soldiers and hundreds of thousands in the Middle East have died in a battle against a nebulous enemy: terror.
A few things do make me glad: that U.S. troops were the ones to kill bin Laden, and none were injured doing so; that this might bring closure to the families of those who died on Sept. 11; it might make soldiers feel that their sacrifices have been worthwhile. Shallowly, I am also glad this might boost Obama’s re-election chances, because despite all of former President George Bush’s blustering about being tough on terror, bin Laden was brought down on Obama’s watch. It will be difficult to question his national security credentials in the run-up to 2012.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not sad at all that bin Laden is dead. And if this were the actual end of anything, on either our side or the terrorists’, I would be at the head of the parade. We could certainly use a bit of good news right now. But it feels like a hollow victory.