With ter'rist mastermind Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (formerly of the Saudi bin Laden family), founder of jihadist organization al-Qaeda and all-around reprehensible character, dead at last, nothing fundamentally changes.
The war in Afghanistan simmers on. The jerryrigged Iraqi government still sways like a house of cards. End of operations in Pakistan? Not bloody likely. The quagmire of conflict yawns ever wider and deeper. It will not end just because this one ghost has been dragged out and exorcised.
And it looks like cowboy justice. Special operatives descend - not into a cave on the AfPak border as the Bush Admin led us to believe, but a compound in a city north of Islamabad. There was no tribunal, no Gitmo, just a firefight and what we can only assume was an inconspicuous burial at sea. Even Nazis, considered history's worst, got the Nuremberg trials.
Bin Laden fought like a dog and got put down like a dog. But, like a diseased animal - and what is an evil human but a diseased animal? - I have only pity - but not contempt. Contempt for anyone is a hypocritical emotion: it ignores our common condition.
You see, this was never about justice: justice calls for a rule of law, for methodical investigation ... in short, those trappings of civilizedness the United States government increasingly treats as a luxury and not just abroad but at home, as well.
And this was never about closure for the most wounded people of New York, those who lost loved ones. Not only does more death fail to resurrect those who have been lost, nor sooth the greatest sort of pain we're capable of feeling, but it co-opts that tragedy into the very cycle of international violence that perpetuates precisely that suffering on people everywhere. Those people can or could only find their own closure, and God help them if they feel it in this sad old man's death.
Nor is this about closure for that other East Coast pain: the wounded pride of New Yorkers (and sadly many other American residents as well), the terror giving way to self-righteousness and indignation. Truly as if the personal members of the American beast, with their diffusion of responsibility for the animal's sins, should by the rules of karma always escape inevitable reprisal made manifest. And what, exactly, should absolve these unwitting citizens from the same coincidental shackles of every other victim of birthplace who lives in the shadow of violence all across the globe? Innocent populations are mowed down all the time, but only the United States Government has the power and pull to wreak vengeance no matter who has wronged it or where the guilty parties hide ... and bust down every door it pleases along the way.
Just because the privilege is unique to this government, does that mean it should not persecute these rabid animals? Who else is going to hold them accountable? No one else has the resources, or is willing to destabilize nuclear-empowered regimes like that of Pakistan in singleminded determination to neutralize rogue actors and create new bogeymen.
The grave of one threat, and/or the cradle of the next?
Power eats its own foundations. Action sows the seeds of entropy and failure. Osama bin Laden is not the first nor will he be the last to be quashed under the weight of a collapsing empire, a slow landslide that buries friend and foe alike.
Anyone who rejoices in the destruction of even one fiend would be wise to note you, too, stand within range of this fallout, and you will not be judged by innocent nor guilt - if you will be judged at all.