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DECKER: Osama dead; Obama should escalate

America needs to keep momentum against radical Islam

- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden is finally dead. Intelligence sources leaked late Sunday night that the terrorist mastermind was killed by a U.S. strike inside Pakistan, where he had been hiding. Initial reports said justice was delivered by an unmanned drone strike; later information was that he was whacked by a U.S. raid on a compound outside Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. As long as he was dead, the details really didn't matter. Justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied. Today, the free world can celebrate because an evil man was killed at the hands of U.S. forces. 

Vengeance is finally ours; that is perfect justice. The feeling of satisfaction was all the better at news that U.S. operatives shot him in the head and took custody of the dirtbag's body. Had bin Laden died of natural causes or even been taken out by an unmanned drone strike, the victory would not have been as sweet. Bin Laden had the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands; it was only right that he should have the chance to see his fate coming up close and personal from the hands of those defending the Land of the Free, those striking a blow for all the victims and the families of victims of Islamic terrorism. 

President Obama took to the airwaves shortly before midnight to confirm the good news and take credit for it. The wording of his short statement made it clear that the campaign season for his 2012 reelection bid is fully underway. He used the words “I,” “me” and “my” so many times it was hard to count for such a quick message. Not only is this consistent with his view that everything is about him, it also reflected the reality that this president is weak and perceived by the world to be a lackluster leader who has undermined American power. He needs to grab any opportunity he can to make himself believable as a commander in chief. Crowds flocked to White House gates to celebrate bin Laden's demise, giving this unpopular president a rare glimpse of public support that won't last long.  

Mr. Obama called his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, to tell him the news. This was only fitting as it was Mr. Bush's policies that took the fight to the enemy and didn't back down despite opposition from timid politicians such as then-Sen. Barack Obama. Bin Laden's death is more Mr. Bush's victory than Mr. Obama's because American forces wouldn't even be fighting in South Asia had Democratic doves had their way. Mr. Obama may indeed have instructed CIA Director Leon Panetta to make the capture of bin Laden a top priority, as he boasted Sunday night, but he was reiterating a mandate already established as national policy. It was Mr. Bush who first identified bin Laden as “an evil man,” designated his “dead or alive” capture as a top U.S. priority and relentlessly pursued it throughout his presidency. We would not have seen this day without the groundwork he laid, from the use of military force to the building of coalition support with other nations, including Pakistan. 

“The fight against terror goes on,” Mr. Bush said upon hearing of bin Laden's death. “But tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.” Mr. Bush's reminder that the fight still will be long was important because the war against Islamic terrorism is far from over. Al Qaeda cells and other terrorists around the world might now feel pressure to validate their power by launching an offensive against soft targets all over the West, perhaps in America. The United States needs to preempt as much of this carnage as possible by escalating our war against forces of evil. Mr. Obama went out of his way to reiterate that America is “not at war with Islam – Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader.” The fact is a huge chunk of Islam is at war with America, and there's not a huge uprising of moderate Muslims doing anything about it. The president ignores the reality of who this enemy is at the nation's peril.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. Assistant Opinion Editor Anneke E. Green helped with this report.

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