Even with Osama Dead, Did the Terrorists Win?

The death of Osama Bin Laden is both a uniting and dividing event. Everyone agrees that a terrible human being is off the face of the Earth. Most people are rejoicing in that fact. Yet his death is unsatisfying for some of us. There are a multitude of reason.

For one, it does not seem like justice has been done. Being shot in the head seems too easy for a man who’s purpose was to kill and instill fear all over the world. It is disgusting that he lived in the comfort of a walled compound in a resort town while he demand others sacrifice themselves. I imagine belief in hell is very satisfying right now.

Second, this does not change anything. A world without Bin Laden is still a world filled with the problems he helped create. His death may only inspire further acts of violence, reprisals, hate, fear, and death. The cause Bin Laden stands for does not end with him.

Finally, if we honestly assess everything that happened after the day he drug humanity into his twisted view of reality, can we really say we defeated him? In all our efforts to not “let the terrorists win,” it is more likely that we played right into his hands.

Look at our response to 9/11. We locked ourselves into violent struggle with those that followed him. We invaded one country, then another. They got the opportunity to inflict more violence against the innocent. Over a hundred thousand civilians were killed in the crossfire. We lost the solidarity we had with the world. Our country became deeply indebted from the cost of fighting shadows.

In response to this atrocity, we were called upon to go shopping as our patriotic duty. Our central bank further loosened credit to stimulate demand, and we went on the most reckless borrowing, spending, and lending binge the world has ever seen. We began to face the consequences of our actions almost three years ago. I’m sure he celebrated as our prosperity began to unravel into a debt-fueled inferno. It shredded the fabric of our society, and we are still trying to piece it back together.

Maybe this account is too loosely connected and simplistic to be compelling. But the West as a collective society just went through the hardest decade in recent memory, and he brought it in with bloodshed. Our response has made the world no more safe and prosperous than the moment just before the first plane hit the south tower.

Its time to reflect on our course of action. Maybe its time to cut our losses at this symbolic victory. For all his evil, taking him off this Earth is a drop in the ocean. The only way his death is not a hollow gesture is if we look within ourselves and find a better way.