Jacob Heilbrunn

Obama's Victory over Evil: the Death of Osama bin Laden

President Obama has accomplished what many had begun to think was impossible. "Justice has been done," Obama said as he announced that U.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden in a compound a mere forty miles from Islamabad. With that announcement he has likely won the 2012 election. When the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is marked in September, he will be able to tell the survivors and families that he has ended the life of the satanic figure who perpetrated them.

It will be impossible to assail Obama as weak on foreign policy. The claim of many neoconservatives has been that Obama was soft on terrorism, lacked the cojones to prosecute the war against bad guys, preferred law enforcement methods to military ones. That claim has now been revealed as fanciful. George W. Bush was unable to capture or kill bin Laden. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld continues to act, in his memoirs, as though it's no big deal whether this monster was captured or not. He was wrong. The death of bin Laden will take away some, not all, of the luster he enjoys among Islamic militants. He didn't manage to die peacefully. Revenge took place for the murder of thousands. The failure to capture him had been a shameful and standing affront to America. Now he has deservedly died an inglorious death.

No, the death of bin Laden will not result in a reduction of terrorism. Bin Laden's terrorist spawn will surely try to carry out fresh attacks as soon as possible. Al-Qaeda has morphed—mitosis has taken place.

Bin Laden's killing will strengthen Obama's hand with foreign leaders—he now goes down in history as the man who took him out. It also frees Obama to take a fresh look at America's so-called alliance with Pakistan. Why was bin Laden living cozily close to the capital of Pakistan? Next to a military academy? In a $1 million house? Because Pakistan is obviously no ally of America. Pakistan is trying to pretend that the killing of bin Laden was a joint operation, which is clearly a bogus claim. Obama will have to consider the extent to which Washington can detach itself from this sorry, corrupt little country that is bilking it for billions in military assistance. Pakistan leaders must be cowering now that their greatest trump card has been removed. They had, in effect, a vested interest in making sure that this creep remained alive. Now he has been extirpated from the face of the earth, dumped for burial at sea.

The successful tracking down of bin Laden, above all, represents the overcoming of a psychological hurdle. Perhaps it will prompt Americans to take a more sober view of the terrorist threat, confident that while it cannot be eliminated, terrorism can be successfully battled. It will also increase the pressure in the next months for Congress to compromise and reach agreement on the debt and other issues. This is a rare moment. A politically divided country is now united by relief over the death of one of the greatest mass murderers in history. It is a victory for Obama and a triumph for America.