The bitter taste of 'mission accomplished'

Posted: Friday, May 06, 2011

To say that President Barack Obama's decision this week to send an elite strike team after Osama bin Laden was gutsy is an understatement. The move was that of a bold leader, guided by some of the best military and foreign policy minds in the world.

The announcement late Sunday that bin Laden had been killed sparked spontaneous demonstrations of elation in Washington, D.C., and major American cities across the nation. People took to the streets much as they did when Allied Forces defeated the Third Reich in World War II. That's understandable. We saw bin Laden as the generation's Adolf Hitler. This time, however, and significantly, we took out the bad guy ourselves.

But just as significantly, the jubilation was short lived, for good reason.

We remember that we still have service men and women overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. We remember the military personnel who've lost their lives in this battle against terrorism. We remember that this battle has forever and irrevocably changed the way we live our lives, at least as far as our personal freedoms are concerned.

And we still face the specter of terrorism around the world. Fanatics regenerate like a shark regenerates teeth. There are still despotic leaders we must deal with. The world remains, in many ways, a dangerous place.

So, solemnity should be the proper response to the death of Osama bin Laden. That's why Obama's decision to not release photos of the slain terrorist leader's body was a good one. Never mind the conspiracy theorists who will demand the proof, then renounce it as faked. Never mind the pain we've been forced to endure when the bodies of our own American warriors were paraded in front of jeering crowds and broadcast around the world. We are better than that.

We need to remember that what Obama did -- order the killing of another human being -- is grim business. There is little doubt it had to happen; it would be difficult to argue otherwise, even though academic arguments of the necessity bin Laden's elimination will continue into the future.

Americans can best react to this week's events by emulating the same serious sense of mission as demonstrated by the President, and certainly as demonstrated by the strike team that successfully accomplished the deadly mission.

In short: Sometimes success is as bitter as it is fulfilling. This is one of those times.

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