Dr. Steven A. Leibo is a professor of international history & politics for the sage Colleges
OK, I admit it I am not at all bothered that Bin Laden is dead at the hands of American Navy Seals. And, while I am generally against the death penalty. I admit to having a special place in my heart for mass murderers. Indeed, I would have been well pleased if the German Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg had managed successfully to assassinate Adolf Hitler. In fact, I would have been delighted if the famous Soviet Era “Doctor’s Plot” had actually been real and had effectively killed another mass murderer, Joseph Stalin. I could not have been more pleased if some lucky soul had managed to terminate Cambodia’s mass murderer Pol Pot.
Indeed, for a professor at Russell Sage College, Bin Laden’s crimes have a particularly long legacy. Because long before his movement murdered Spaniards in Madrid. Long before they murdered Brits in London or Australians in Bali. Long before Al Qaeda murdered thousands of Americans at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and those grassy fields of Pennsylvania, Bin Laden tried unsuccessfully to murder one of Russell Sage’s College’s most illustrious alumni.
Yes, he tried to murder, the extraordinarily accomplished diplomat, Prudence Bushnel, the American ambassador to Kenya whose embassy along with hundreds of African Muslims had the misfortune to be in Bin Laden’s sights that horrific day back in 1998. Yes, that horrific day when Bin Laden’s minions attacked American embassies from Dar es Salaam to Tanzania and of course Ambassador Bushnell’s Nairobi, Kenya post.
But in truth, it’s not bin Laden’s fate that particularly pleases me but the likely hood that his death might well add one more weight to the decision making scales that must eventually conclude that the American military efforts that flowed from nine eleven; the logical assault on the hybrid Taliban/Al Qaeda alliance that controlled Afghanistan – that any president would have attacked. Indeed had Al Gore ended up in the White House he too would have sent our troops into Afghanistan just as George W. Bush eventually did.
And, of course, the sadly misguided distraction of Iraq. But of course both efforts, whatever their initial justifications have now run their course. And if bin Laden’s well deserved death can help make it even slightly easier for us for us to pull back from these needless and counter-productive engagements; commitments that have made us more enemies than friends from the Persian Gulf to South Asia so be it.
Yes, If his death somehow makes it easier for us to redirect our energies toward our failing American economic infrastructure, our still too feeble efforts to find newer more 21st century appropriate energy sources, helps us somewhat in fixing our ailing schools & finally get our national finances in check, than I could not be more pleased that Osama lost his chance for the proverbial three score and ten