What did U.S. learn from bin Laden’s death?

Published 7:50 am Friday, May 13, 2011

Now that Bin Laden is dead what should the United States expect? The United States should expect more of the same but it has learned a dear lesson and should learn another one in the near future.

But first let’s get to what I mean by more of the same. If history is any teacher (and it should be) then terrorism is as old as the world itself. If this tells us anything then terrorism is not going away anytime soon. Islamic terrorism is not going away soon. When Osama was killed he was nothing more than a figure head. Al-Qaeda was never a tightly run group. But after the invasion of Afghanistan it became even more of a loosely run organization. Cells have become used to operating without major assistance from the headquarters (almost like a franchise). This has made the group more unpredictable but less able to pull off large scale spectacular attacks. But Al-Qaeda has managed to become something of an idealogical grandfather for other radical Islamic goups. There are affiliates scattered through out the world and especially in the Middle East. Other groups also claim ties because of their common ideologies.

All of this goes to show that Islamic terrorism is not going away and all these pseudo Al-Qaeda groups show it. In the short term (one to two years) there is a strong possibility of a spike in terrorist activity against the U.S. and other Western targets. Lone actors, groups of identified with Al-Qaeda, and Al-Qaeda itself will strike back in revenge and in the case of Al-Qaeda it will be to prove that they are still relevent after the death of Osama.

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The first lesson that the United States should learn and should have already learned is that to fight terrorism does not take large armies and massive number of troops. It should be conducted like an episode of any of the numerous “Law and Order” episodes. Gather intelligence and evidence and then go in a take out the bad guy before he can strike again or strike for the first time. As we have seen since our invasion of Iraq and Afganistan terrorism is not dead. In fact there has been a number of high profile attacks on other Western countries, several near misses in the US, and numerous terrorist attacks in the Middle East and other Asian countries. (and this excludes Iraq and Afghanistan.) Major military force should be used when hitting an enemy who is as strong as an anvil not one who is a nail. Fighting terrorism takes precision not blunt force.

The lesson that the United States is going to learn in the future is that taking out the heads of and even organizations that promote terrorism will never end terrorism. It might set it back but terrorism will never be defeated until the conditions on the ground that cause terrorism are removed there will never be and end to terrorism. Terrorism springs from a feeling of isolation and alienation that leads itself to attatch itself to a group that promises to allievate those problems and gives the person a purpose in their life. Yes certain ideologies and world views are more suceptible to terrorism but they have existed in all areas of the world. Only when these are removed from the world will terrorism cease to exist. In the Islamic world we are possibly, but I am not so optimistic for most places, beginning to see changes that could remove this stain from the region. This will teach the U.S. to focus more on how to help allieviate the problems that cause terrorism.

Lack of opportunity, lack of the ability to lead your life to the fullest, and lack political expression and determination are all root causes of terrorism. Right now radical Islam offers this for many people but this will not always be the case. The US will learn that killing off terrorists and terrorist head will not end terrorism or even slow it down. You can’t defeat and ideology with a bullet but by offering a competing and superior way of life can.

The US will learn that it needs to help build and encourage this competing ideology in the Muslim world to truely win the fight against terrorism.

Bart Wallace