May 1st has several events associated with it. Great Britain is formed (1328), Pluto (considered the ninth planet at the time) is officially named (1930), Empire State Building is dedicated (1931), Hitler is confirmed dead (1945), North Korea is established (1948), among other things. Modern political history will remember it for a couple of reasons; in 2003 President George W. Bush landed on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner that read “Mission Accomplished” and announced that major combat operations were over in Iraq.
Of course, that declaration turned out to be premature. We are still in Iraq, and Afghanistan. And we appear to be in a war on terrorism in perpetuity. We had some successes on the war with the Taliban and al Qaeda, but that mission has never really been accomplished. History is already providing some hindsight into the motives for al Qaeda and the acts of terrorism. For example, al Qaeda didn’t really exist in Iraq before President Bush decided to invade it. Many would argue that Bush exacerbated the situation and made it ripe for al Qaeda to come and fight in Iraq.
And what about that bin Laden guy who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks on America? Bush came out pretty strong about going after him while he was standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center Towers but a year later he said;
“I don’t know where [Bin Laden] is..You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him…I truly am not that concerned about him.”
Now why would Bush give up looking for Osama bin Laden? Maybe he really didn’t know where to look. Maybe it was easier to focus on terrorism at large rather than focus on one person who had dropped off the map and everyone believed was holed up in a cave in Pakistan. Or perhaps, President Bush was just more distracted with Iraq.
And now, of course, May 1st will be remembered as a turning point in the Obama Presidency when he did what the past two Presidents had been unable to do. He did what he said he would do when he was campaigning for the office. He actually got Osama bin Laden. With that one act he quelled the criticism that he lacked sufficient backbone to make tough political decisions. The previous distractions with his birth certificate, his educational bona fides, and his ‘otherness’ will only tend to make those who engage in that kind of criticism now look petty. Judging by the spontaneous gatherings of people pouring into the streets Sunday night, Americans of all stripes seem to approve of President Obama’s handling of the situation.
Tune in later in the week for a further examination of the dichotomy between different Presidents and their means of dealing with terrorism.
- Al Qaeda on the ropes? Little Arab outrage over Osama bin Laden’s death. – Christian Science Monitor (news.google.com)
- Cenk Uygur: Bin Laden Dead — War Was Not the Answer (huffingtonpost.com)
- Osama Bin Laden Dead: Al Qaeda Leader’s Wife Possibly Used As Shield, Killed In Raid (huffingtonpost.com)