The morning after the death of mass murderer and al-Qaeda head Osama Bin Laden the celebration in America continues. While the predominant feeling is jubilation there is some muttering of mixed feelings. Some feel it's a bitter sweet victory because of the fact that his victims can not return. Others feel it is not a victory at all after taking into account that amount of time and money it took to find him. And still others have been appalled at the level of jubilation brought about by the news of another human beings death. I'm definitely in the camp of mixed emotions.
When I first heard the news I was excited. This was the person who planned and had people carry out the worst attack on America in our history. It wasn't his death as a person that excited me so much as the death of what he symbolized. Bin Laden symbolized all the feelings of frustration we as a nation had at the 9/11 attacks, the death of our soldiers in the incurring wars, and the idea that this mass murderer who had done so much harm to us as a nation was keeping out of reach of the most technologically advanced nation in the world. However, in the big scheme of things he was a symbol more than anything.
While al-Qaeda was, and still is, a dangerous organization, it isn't the main force that our soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan. While there is often confusion between the difference between al-Qaeda and the Taliban make no mistake. They are different organizations. Most of the militants that our soldiers are facing in Afghanistan are not part of al-Qaeda but rather, part of the infamous Haqqani Network. A group closely allied with Taliban that is based out of North Waziristan, Pakistan. Haqqani is lead by a father-son team, the former of which had close ties to Bin Laden due to their shared conflict against the Soviets during the 1980s. The core of the group is made up of mostly Pashto tribals but that does not make it a tribal force. The group is comprised of those outside of the tribal areas and some out of the countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan entirely. The tribal links play a large role in how members are inducted and how it coordinates it's movements. All this has to do with the code of Pashto which is to confusing to get into in this (my friend who is a Pashto has told me that even he is confused by the system at times). Also, by no means are all Pashto members in the organization. Much like the KKK, these extremists/militants are the minority.
While both al-Qaeda and the Taliban have religious themes these organizations do not do their acts of terrorism based on religion, rather on policy. For example 9/11 was committed out of the distaste of America's foreign policy dealing with everything from incursion into other countries conflicts, bases in the Middle East, and the covert overthrow of unfriendly governments. Instead religion is used as a tool to help recruit from an ethnic community that has been abused by Western governments for as long as anyone in the area can remember and as an excuse for their actions. Bin Laden may be dead but the fight is extremely far from over.
While I watched the news this morning and I saw the reactions to the news of Bin Laden's death I could not help but be reminded of the infamous scenes of people dancing in the street after the 9/11 attacks. I have heard from multiple people that they are surprised by the "blood lust" of Americans for celebrating the death of human being. While I have not seen war personally, I have studied war and it's affects as I wish to go into the coverage of war. So I am not surprised by this outpouring of emotion. That does not mean that I am not in a way disturbed by it. The so called "Arabs" are often played up by the media as being evil and barbarous but there were many a white people dancing in the street last night. Whether they were celebrating the death of a person or a symbol, the correlation between that image and the image of dancing Muslim extremists after the fall of the Twin Towers can not be erased from my mind.
I can not speak for America. But, with what faith I have in the American people I will say that it is my hope that they are dancing out of the demise of a symbol. Because in the end, that's all this was. The United States can claim a moral victory but, at this point, not much else.