Justice Has Been Done!

Source: Time:

The other day, while waiting at my dentist's office, I picked up the Time magazine dated May 20, 2011.

It was a special edition covering the killing of the world's most wanted fugitive. "Special Report - The End Of Bin Laden". As i flipped through the pages, I read some articles that made a lot of sense now, in today's context. Reproduced below (with our gratitude to Time) are some quotes from the articles in that edition.



Editor's Desk:

This was only the 4th time in the history of Time magazine that they put a red X over the face on their cover.
The first time marked the death of Adolf Hitler in 1945. In 2003 we revived the X for Saddam Hussein on the occasion of the U.S.-led coalition's takeover of Baghdad. Three years later, we put it on the face of Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, the scourge of Iraq. Now we use it to signal the death of the world's most-infamous terrorist, Osama bin Laden.


Briefing:

"Justice has been done." ~ President Barack Obama, announcing in a late-night address on May 1 that the al-Qaeda leader OBL had been killed in a US operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, 75 miles (120km) outside Islamabad - capital of Pakistan.
"This fact underlines our concern that terrorists belonging to different organizations find sanctuary in Pakistan." P.Chidambaram, Indian Home Minister, following OBL's death within the borders of India's longtime rival.


The Mission - Death Comes For The Terrorist:

Living the Good Life So he wasn't in a cave after all. Osama bin Laden, master marketer of mass murder, loved to traffic in the image of the ascetic warrior-prophet. In one of his most famous videotapes, he chose gray rocks for a backdrop, a rough camo jacket for a costume and a rifle for a prop. He portrayed a hard, pure alternative to the decadent weakness of the modern world. Soft Westerners and their corrupt puppet princes reclined in luxury and sin while he wanted nothing but a gun and a prayer rug. The zealot travels light, his bloodred thoughts so pure that even stones are as cushions for his untroubled sleep.

Now we know otherwise. Bin Laden was not the stoic soldier that he played onscreen. The exiled son of a Saudi construction mogul was living in a million-dollar home in a wealthy town nestled among green hills. He apparently slept in a king-size bed with a much younger wife. He had satellite TV.

[...]

The raid took him down to size. Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, found himself disgusted by bin Laden in a whole new way: "Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years."

Remember that bin Laden once declared, "We love death. The U.S. loves life." Evidently that was a line he peddled to would-be suicide bombers. For himself, he preferred life in tranquil Abbottabad.

[...]

The successes against al-Qaeda have cost us dearly — in money, time, easy freedom and untroubled sleep.

But perhaps the most important thing to come from bin Laden's death is the sense that maybe this struggle won't last forever. That hope seemed to animate the young people who greeted the news Sunday night with jubilation. Outside the White House, college students turned Pennsylvania Avenue into a giant party, waving flags and chanting "U.S.A.!"

A Long Time Going:

At first glance, the 9/11 assault looked like a stunning win for al-Qaeda, a ragtag band of jihadists who had bloodied the nose of the world's only superpower. But on closer look it became something far less significant, because the attacks on Washington and New York City did not achieve bin Laden's key strategic goal: the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Middle East, which he imagined would lead to the collapse of all the American-backed authoritarian regimes in the region.

Instead, the opposite happened: the U.S. invaded and occupied first Afghanistan and then Iraq. By attacking the American mainland and inviting reprisal, al-Qaeda — which means "the base" in Arabic — lost the best base it had ever had: Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. In this sense, 9/11 was similar to another surprise attack, that on Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, a stunning tactical victory that set in motion events that would end in the defeat of imperial Japan.

Shrewder members of bin Laden's inner circle had warned him before 9/11 that antagonizing the U.S. would be counterproductive, and internal al-Qaeda memos written after the fall of the Taliban and later recovered by the U.S. military show that some of bin Laden's followers fully understood the folly of the attacks. In 2002 an al-Qaeda insider wrote to another, saying, "Regrettably, my brother ... during just six months, we lost what we built in years."

[...]

The al-Qaeda leadership, its foot soldiers and its ideology played no role in the series of protests and revolts that have rolled across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunisia to Egypt and then on to Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. Bin Laden must have watched these events unfold with a mixture of excitement and deep worry. Overthrowing the dictatorships and monarchies of the Middle East was long his central goal, but the Arab revolutions were not the kind he had envisioned. Protesters in the streets of Tunis and Cairo didn't carry placards with pictures of bin Laden's face, and the Facebook revolutionaries who launched the uprisings represent everything al-Qaeda hates: they are secular, liberal and antiauthoritarian, and their ranks include women. The eventual outcome of these revolts will not be to al-Qaeda's satisfaction either, because almost no one in the streets of Egypt, Libya or Yemen is clamoring for the imposition of a Taliban-style theocracy, al-Qaeda's preferred end for the states in the region.

Between the Arab Spring and the death of bin Laden, it is hard to imagine greater blows to al-Qaeda's ideology and organization. President Obama has characterized al-Qaeda and its affiliates as "small men on the wrong side of history." For al-Qaeda, that history just sped up, as bin Laden's body floated down into the ocean deeps and its proper place in the unmarked grave of discarded lies.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2069610,00.html#ixzz1XfKZQGfB

When Terror Loses Its Grip:

It is a bizarre historical coincidence. President Barack Obama announced to the world that Osama bin Laden was dead on May 1, the very same day that, 66 years earlier, the German government announced that Adolf Hitler was dead. It's fitting that two of history's great mass murderers share a day of death. (Sort of. Hitler actually killed himself a day earlier, but his death was not revealed to the world until the following day.) Both embodied charisma and intelligence deployed in the service of evil — and both were utterly callous about the killing of innocents to further their causes.

There are, of course, many differences between Hitler and bin Laden. But one great similarity holds. Hitler's death marked the end of the Nazi challenge from Germany. And bin Laden's death will mark the end of the global threat of al-Qaeda. [...]

Al-Qaeda is not like Hitler's Germany, which was a vast, rich country with a massive army. It never had many resources or people. Al-Qaeda is an idea, an ideology. And it was personified by bin Laden, a man who for his followers represented courage and conviction. ... He used literary Arabic, spoke movingly and tried to seduce millions of Muslims. Those who were duly seduced and joined the group swore a personal oath to him. Young men who volunteered for suicide missions were not dying for al-Zawahiri or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned the 9/11 attacks. They were dying for bin Laden. And with bin Laden's death, the cause and the man have both been extinguished. We will battle terrorists for many years to come, but that does not make them a mortal threat to the Western world or its way of life. The existential danger is over.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2069577,00.html#ixzz1XfL2tJeU

Pakistan - How Can We Trust Them?:

That the world's best-known terrorist could be hiding in plain sight may be plausible in a country where privacy is a sacred right. But in Pakistan, household secrets rarely stay that way. Housekeepers and servants gossip at the back doors, and drivers chuckle over the infidelities of their employers. Anything that raises more than an eyebrow is quickly brought to the attention of "the agencies" — local parlance for Pakistan's ubiquitous intelligence groups, which closely monitor the daily lives of citizens, as much in an effort to collect information as to enforce a paranoia-driven code of good behavior.

As any foreigner living in Pakistan knows, "the agencies" are especially adept at ferreting out the presence of strangers. The crackle and click of telephone lines is a constant reminder that no conversation is private, the crew-cut men in beige who materialize at inopportune moments proof that one is never quite alone in Pakistan. So it beggars belief that absolutely no one knew who was living in a compound that was, according to a U.S. official, "custom-built to hide someone of significance." John Brennan, President Obama's adviser on counterterrorism, didn't arch his eyebrows when he declined at a May 2 press conference to "speculate about who [within the Pakistani leadership] had foreknowledge about bin Laden being in Abbottabad." But his skepticism was palpable. The location of bin Laden's last address "there, outside of the capital, raises questions," Brennan said.

Those questions are at the heart of the renewed debate about one of the U.S.'s oldest partners in the battle against terrorism. It can be summed up quite simply: Can Pakistan be trusted? If not, what can the Obama Administration, so keen to extricate U.S. troops from the region, do about it? And just how safe is Pakistan now that bin Laden is gone? The answers are not reassuring. (See how the U.S. is trying to patch ties with Pakistan.)

Bin Laden was not the cause of Pakistan's problems. But his presence in Abbottabad was a symptom of a deeply ambivalent official approach to militancy that threatens to undermine the stability of this nuclear-armed state. Elements in the Pakistani military have long viewed militants and extremists as useful proxies. A blinkered focus on a perceived threat from the old enemy, India — with which Pakistan has fought three wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir — has led to massive military spending, depriving generations of Pakistanis of good education, adequate health care and the basic building blocks of an economy — electricity, irrigation, roads. Then there's the sheer corruption and incompetence of most Pakistani institutions: the leadership, both civilian and military, has pursued power at the expense of building a functional political apparatus that promotes accountability over cronyism and punishes inefficiency.

[...]

It would be a mistake to think bin Laden's death would be a deterrent to anyone considering the path of militant jihad. If anything, it may inspire more young men, devoid of alternatives, to seek glory in taking an American bullet.

It is true that school textbooks have lately been modified (though they still portray India as an enemy). But the jihadist rhetoric resonates at weekly prayers in mosques where radical mullahs spew hate and intolerance, unchecked by government authority.

[...]

The roster of recent international terrorist attacks, from London in 2005 to Mumbai in 2008 to the 2009 attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul and the foiled 2010 attack on New York City's Times Square, have one element in common: Pakistan. The attackers either were Pakistani, were trained in Pakistan or were assisted by Pakistani handlers. It's a record that makes a mockery of Pakistani government assertions that it is doing everything it can to stop terrorism.

[...]

Pakistani officials never tire of pointing out that they have rolled up more al-Qaeda members than any other nation, a claim that, while true, says much about the concentration of terrorists in the country. Such captures have become diplomatic theater, produced with a flourish when Islamabad's relationship with Washington is under particular strain. "Pakistan can be described as both the fireman and the arsonist," says Christine Fair, an expert at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Policy. "It constantly finds ways of renewing its strategic relevance."

That is the crux of the matter. Pakistan has convinced the world that its geographical location and heft are such that its interests need attending to, no matter how often it lets others — and itself — down.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2069572,00.html#ixzz1XfaQ5NUb

The 25th Hour:

Bin Laden and 9/11 generally didn't change our culture in the ways predicted. They did not — contra a TIME column written after the attacks — mean "the end of irony." (If anything, we saw the opposite, from hipsters wearing trucker hats to the passionate ironies of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.)

[...]

But American culture still absorbed the new wars, playing them for history, tragedy and farce. The sacrifices of the airline passengers who died in Shanksville, Pa., saving the White House were commemorated in United 93. New York City's ache (and survivors' guilt) over 9/11 was rendered with black-humored bile by Denis Leary's Rescue Me. The decade's greatest sitcom, Arrested Development, was on one level an extended satire of the Iraq war. Cable series from The Shield to Battlestar Galactica handled the wars' dark lessons metaphorically.

[...]

The Abbottabad raid, like Bauer's victories, gave us a feeling of agency. But like many reruns, it came with a bittersweet nostalgia. It brought the closure we wanted with the knowledge that we had wanted it a decade before.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2069574,00.html#ixzz1XfbiHpGt

by Nancy Gibbs:

Where Victory Lies - It isn't in bin Laden's death. Its in all the ways he failed to change us.
Now, 10 years later, the worst of the bad men is suddenly, finally gone. Turns out he'd been living like a soccer dad in the suburbs rather than like a troll in a cave the way we had imagined. Never mind. He's finished. So now we can ask, Did Osama bin Laden really do that thing that terrorists set out to do: change us, change everything, make us flinch at a sudden noise, sleep with one eye open, toss out principles that prove inconvenient, turn a whole nation into a twitchy neighborhood-watch group while he wages a holy war?

We certainly twitched for a while. We watched for men with nicks on their faces because jihadists shave as a disguise. We reported unattended bags. Bought duct tape. Removed our shoes. Packed 3-oz. (90 ml) bottles in ziplock bags. Learned that sarin gas smells like Juicy Fruit gum and cyanide like bitter almonds. And you could argue that it worked: a decade's worth of terrorist plots were foiled by spooks and soldiers, alert passengers and beat cops and Times Square vendors and shopkeepers who wondered why anyone needed to buy so much bleach.

But no war gets fought in white gloves. United by the attacks, we split over the response

[...]

Maybe they were celebrating his death, but maybe it was more the realization that he had long since been defeated.

He'd been defeated by the resilience of societies he derided as soft and corrupt; we were tough enough to take the battle to him, committed enough to turn the 9/11 anniversary into a day of service, crass enough to market Osama piƱatas, confident enough to turn off the all-terror-all-the-time news feed and go back to dancing with the stars. We didn't seal our borders; immigration actually rose. We still fly, and with e-tickets no less. We're a more vigilant society but just as rambunctious. We argue with each other, join the Marine Corps and the Peace Corps. And across the world, all through the Middle East, we watch the kids bin Laden hoped would be his foot soldiers choose peaceful change instead. Our kids learned early about evil. But they grew up learning how it is fought.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2069568,00.html#ixzz1XfclP05W



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