This is the aerial view of a targeted assassination, one that took inexplicably long to carry out, and one apparently completely unconnected to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 10 years of death and suffering of mostly non-Americans in a clumsily prosecuted War on Terror, we get the death of a very high profile extremist. For many, this symbolizes justice for a terrible day in September, when those of us on the ground saw the skies of my hometown grow black from smoke and foreboding of what was to come.
On the other hand, if you divorce yourself from the reality of US foreign policy (just last week a major Wikileaks document trove revealed serious botching of how prisoners were handled at Guantánamo, and even the airstrikes on Libya are being criticized by the UN as a violation of international law), then this capture of Bin Laden caps a weekend where Obama released his birth certificate, completely humiliated Donald Trump and the birther “movement” in public, and has now trumped the Republican Right at its own game: the big-picture perspective on the U.S. as world police force and enforcer of military might, etc. This is a serious blow to the Republicans from which they are unlikely to recover by 2012 election year.
Some might see this as the end of extremism. Or maybe it’s just extremism’s re-cloaking as a rational strategy like targeted assassination. When will Americans confront what is being done in their name around the world? Perhaps the capture of Bin Laden finally allow Obama and the Democrats the ability to implement much-needed humanitarian reform of the reckless private-sector dictatorship that continues to consolidate its control. That’s probably our best hope.