I woke up this morning to the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan. There were scenes of jubilation in Washington and New York City. It was almost as if the war in Afghanistan was over and the troops were coming home. No such luck.
Bin Laden is dead – apparently – but is the war over? No. The death of Bin Laden does not represent the end of the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere. If anything, this will probably lead to more attacks. By killing Bin Laden, the US has created a martyr.
Bin Laden was seen to be the mastermind behind the attacks on the World Trade Center but he did not personally carry out the attacks. Those that hijacked the planes died when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. Bin Laden wasn’t among the dead. He was somewhere else.
The operation that led to Bin Laden’s death was carried out without the knowledge, it seems, of the Pakistani authorities. The fact that Bin Laden was living in an area with a high military presence is instructive. The relationship between the Pakistan’s military, its intelligence service, the ISI and extremist groups is well-documented. So what about Pakistan? There is every chance that the country could descend into unspeakable violence.
Causality is not uppermost in the minds of war-mongers nor those who carry out atrocities in the name of religion or ideology. The word “why” is forever absent from their lexicons. All that matters is the fleeting high of the moment. But the effect soon wears off and reality begins to bite. This is a real amyl nitrate moment for those who are celebrating the death of Bin Laden. He may be dead, but there are others who will replace him. Contrary to popular belief, the war is not over.
UPDATE: 3/5/11 @1053
Changed “SIS” to “ISI”