The long-elusive Osama bin Laden has been removed as a threat to the citizens of the world. While this is good news for the global war on terror, the time to celebrate the fall of tyranny and rejoice should be short-lived, as by no means is this over yet. Bin Laden was not only a mastermind with a far-reaching arm who was able to execute terroristic plots from remote locations, but he was also a symbol, revered by those who despise the workings and culture of the Western world, the United States in particular. There will very likely be repercussions from bin Laden followers and others inflamed by American actions.
History has shown us that when one despot falls, three or four more attempt to rise to take his place; these threats will all have to be dealt with in the future. And we still have work to do - in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Iran, and in dealing with Pakistan. We have helped institute fledgling democracies that still need our support if they are to become stable and productive and guarantee free and fair elections. We are still working to gain the trust of ordinary citizens who have seen both our good and bad sides, bad being the unfortunate and tragic loss of civilian lives that has sometimes occurred - and that occurs in any war. And members of Al Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist groups are still active, and more splinter groups and new terrorist cells may yet arise. While this unrest continues, gas prices are not likely to fall, a major issue for Americans, but one we're going to have to weather as we have before.
And we must support our American military, some of whom have been through multiple deployments since 9/11, some of whom have been grievously injured in irrevocable ways, and some who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The United States must continue to fulfill a number of important promises and goals so that they know that their work has not been in vain, that their sacrifices are fully appreciated by the American public and that our justification for engaging in a 10-year action is valid.
Libya is currently a hotspot. Gaza hasn't gone away. And so on...and how to deal with Pakistan and other countries in the area who are holding their cards close to the vest? Working on that. The United States and other allies are busy figuring out what to do next. And, as it usually goes, our original purpose has expanded - although a major strategic and symbolic victory, "get bin Laden" is no longer the only objective and has not been for some time.
So this is not the time to say, "Mission accomplished," because it hasn't been. There is still more work to do - let's all hope that we can do it quickly, reach a peaceful conclusion, and bring our servicemen and women home.
- by Victoria Stanish, Editor, The Daily Press