Monday, 2 May 2011

Bin Laden: Bring On The Virgins

Osama Bin Laden is dead, killed in Pakistan by US Navy SEAL forces. The story broke on Twitter last night and was confirmed in a statement by President Obama. Some of today's more gung-ho American media reports convey the impression that a complex and absorbing computer game has been successfully completed, the arch-villain finally toppled, order restored.

Bin Laden apparently resisted the American troops and was shot. Quickly, neatly, he's been buried at sea: no shrine. In this case, a body is certainly more convenient to deal with than a prisoner. Obama is now politically invincible, not least because he's found a way to upstage Britain's royal wedding. No doubt he'll be able to ride the positive energy through the 2012 US election. And on the ground, the special forces troops are happy because they can claim the reward money. Job done.

Or is it?
In Afghanistan the war will continue without Bin Laden. The death of America's erstwhile nemesis is no more than a historical footnote, a settling of accounts for numerous ugly crimes. Al-Qaeda's influence has always been limited; its terrorist acts made headlines but failed to unite the Islamic world. Bin Laden's isolated group has been constantly eclipsed by organisations such as Hamas in the Palestinian-occupied territories, and Lebanon's Fatah and Hizballah, all focused on nationalist movements and goals with support built up over many years. For now al-Qaeda will continue but at the margins, while in Afghanistan the Taliban shows no sign of wanting to end the conflict.

Closer to home, what are the omens for Prince William and Princess Kate? Their first day as man and wife was the anniversary of Hitler's suicide; on their second day together, Bin Laden dies. Clearly they're a world force for good, just like Diana. I can't wait to see what happens next, but my personal choice would be the sacking of the Fox executive who pulled Futurama.

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