Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Die-Hard of the Decade

Osama Bin Laden is found in a Pakistan mansion and killed as Americans at home spend an hour sweating out a "national security" announcement while watching "Celebrity Apprentice" or preparing for bed.

For the old, anxiety arises with the memory of another Sunday night when President Kennedy interrupted TV schedules to reveal missiles in Cuba and that the U.S. would block all shipments to the Caribbean island.

In the age of Facebook and Twitter, a death notice takes on all the urgency of a nuclear confrontation, while no one questions its timing or treatment.

Of course, bin Laden's death is an important symbolic event in the War on Terror, but does it merit a weekend late-night presidential announcement that brings out cheering crowds at the White House and elsewhere? Would Americans have suffered by learning the news officially this morning?

That said, there is a jarring contrast between Osama's end in a luxury compound and the capture of Saddam Hussein "like a rat in a hole" over seven years ago. The timeline of bin Laden's demise suggests it took four years of intelligence work to pinpoint whereabouts of the world's most wanted fugitive, not in a cave but living the lifestyle of the rich and famous in the country of an ally into which we have been pouring billions of dollars.

Killing bin Laden ends almost a decade of American impotence and eases the pain of 9/11 victims' survivors, but it qualifies for none of the exuberance of winning a game show.

At a time of involvement in Libya, Yemen and elsewhere, it complicates U.S. relations in the Middle East by not only demonstrating the reach of a superpower but inviting terrorist retaliation for their "martyred" leader.

In coming days, there will surely be crowds in Arab streets, but they are not likely to be waving American flags.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Announcing it 8 years to the day after W's "Mission Accomplished" speech can't have been a coincidence, either.