I had a different post loaded to run Monday morning, but, you know, history intervenes and something else needs saying.
And that is that Osama bin Laden is dead.
This is about a decade too late. I say this not because the need to bring the plotters and planners of 9/11 to justice has waned since then--any crime, especially one of that magnitude, demands justice--but because for the last few years bin Laden has been, largely, irrelevant. As I noted on twitter last night as the news was breaking (I'm @folkbum, people; you should all be following me), history has a way of making itself happen without you while you're stuck sitting around in a cave. Consider what is going on right now across the Middle East. True, some al Qaeda affiliates are enjoying the moments of anarchy, and there is a chance secular dictatorships could become theocratic republics, but the people of countries all across the region are going ahead with their own revolutions without bin Laden's help, thankyouverymuch.
Indeed, US foreign policy, now mostly about trying to muddle up a response to the regional uprisings, has not been about anti-terrorism for a long time, and until, apparently, today, the hunt for bin Laden was not terribly hot.
Unfortunately, in the few years between 9/11 and when bin Laden lost his relevance, the damage was done. Hundreds of thousands of civilians, and more than ten thousand coalition troops, have been killed because of him.
I also tweeted about my students, who were all five, six, seven years old on 9/11/01, and for whom, it seems to me, bin Laden is not the evil bastard the rest of us remember. They see him, and honestly I can't blame them, as more like the Riddler, some cartoon villain from another time. The Riddler, of course, was never taken out by a team of Navy Seals.
Many thanks to the US troops and intelligence people who pulled this off. It is no fun to learn of any death, but some do, you have to say, come as a relief. This is one.
NOTE: After I wrote most of this, the twiiter pointed me to this piece, which covers some of the same ground, but from a guy who knows what he's talking about.