One dood. You can't kill an ideology, you can't blow up a belief system. The leaders don't matter. If they had killed General Petraeus, would the idea of America somehow die with him? Of course not.
Of course, it HAD to happen. Bin Laden was one of history's loose ends, the worst kind of dangling thread, an unredeemed outlaw to most, a hero to some, but here in America he was an itch we couldn't scratch. As the years piled up and history moved on to other tragedies and other atrocities we talked about "getting" him, but he slowly grew into something more mythical than real, a dragon that appeared in fire and death and then went back to his cave, once again more concept than reality. But the US couldn't have him walking around - no matter how many nations we occupied, no matter how many towns and villages we flattened, no matter how many lives we took, as long as bin Laden was breathing the same air we were ultimately impotent, a great power tormented by a single man.
And, of course, we knew all along where he was. If not specifically, we knew he was in Pakistan, and we knew that our ally was, at some level, giving him shelter and protecting him. And when we found him we knew better than to tell them, and we acted unilaterally, in complete secrecy, across borders. And now, will they cry out in sovereign outrage, railing against America's arrogance and hypocrisy? Or will they lower their eyes and speak carefully, in clear understanding that it was they who set the rules of this game, and that in the end it could not play out any other way?
After all the ink is spilled, pixels lit and commentary made, this morning is no different than yesterday. al Quaeda remains a few hundred violent radicals bent on destruction in the name of some ambiguous set of goals that barely holds together to qualify as an ideology. Their capabilities haven't changed, but neither has the litany of their unacknowledged but quite formidable accomplishments. Single handedly they changed America's place in the world forever. As we stand in our stocking feet at the airport, shoes in hand like some odd cultish supplicants, we feel the relentless tug of al Queada on our own historical narrative. Before 9/11, the US had unquestioned power to demand and intimidate, and could do so from the moral high ground. Today, we are just another bumbling power, on a par with the old Soviet empire, lashing out and destroying without any great overarching principle, reacting to events thoughtlessly, and constantly wondering how we lost our way.
bin Laden is dead. That can in no way be construed as anything but an unconstrained good thing. But we ought to remember him for what he did to us - that sad summer day of fire and fury was not the end of it, not by a long shot. The reverberations from that single attack continue to echo down the paths of history, reminding us of honor and opportunities lost, of what we are and what we used to think we could be, of a more innocent time when we thought our role in the world was to build and create.
bin Laden is dead, and we will never be the same again...
"Until The Oil Tanker Got It"
49 minutes ago