So I woke up this morning to the news. Obama Killed Osama. In my groggy state, I couldn’t really piece together what was happening on my collated facebook and twitter streams until I saw something similar to the previous sentence. I think the first thing I cognized was a friend’s facebook post: “Osama, so 10 years ago.”
I went to NYTimes.com and saw the huge headline and the gigantic picture of the President staring at me, resolute & determined. After reading the article, and then watching my Twitter feeds more closely than usual today (which has been a busy one and not really allowed me to dig as deep into the commentary as I would like), I think my overall thought is, “Osama, so 10 years ago.”
It is actually quite amazing to consider that it was almost 10 years ago that I was sitting with my Marine infantry officer friends in our boxers and t-shirts watching GWB announce to the world that our nation’s military was on its highest alert and looking around the room thinking, “Huh?” as a typhoon raged outside and we couldn’t even leave the building. That was 9-11-01. This is 02-05-11 (date formats have been shifted in accordance with my mindset).
The news, while large, seems quaint. Many nations with majority muslim populations have bigger problems today, and they now have viable outlets for those problems. Moderate muslims the world over have increasingly spoken out against extremism (exhibit A is the commercial I watch on Qatar based MBC movie channel which shows a young teenager watching extremist videos and ends with his mom watching him on one crying and then flashes something in Arabic which I assume says, “don’t be an idiot and blow yourself up”). Al Qaeda has fractured, has become cellular and largely unable to organize anything beyond a small isolated bombing for a long time now.
My main question as to what now has much less to do with the muslim majority areas and much more to do with America. Our shorthand for “the enemy” is gone. So what will we do now? It is very difficult to motivate people, populations, and most importantly fighters to fight a war where they cannot “see” the reason that they are fighting. Our reason in Iraq left, but there was still a face there that was lingering, hovering over the consciousness. That face is now at the bottom of the ocean. I think we can smile that an evil human has gone, but the real point, the real concern I have, or better put, the hope that I hold to is that we Americans can now get back to showing the world that we know more than how to fight. That we know how to compete, how to build, how to innovate, how to drive progress, how to balance divergent political interests, how to develop systems which bring jobs and health and education. Let those be our exports. Instead of our current portfolio: facebook, google, and guided missiles.
Concisely put by my friend: “Osama. So 10 Years Ago.”
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