The Cheapening Of Victory
The killing of bin Laden was not a war-ending event. Modern wars, of the kind being waged now in Afghanistan, have blurred boundaries. Their precise end can be hard to pin down. But putting an end to the mind that plotted the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon nonetheless carried immense value. It underscored the remorselessness — a virtue in this context — of the United States in pursuing its deadly enemies. It gave some kind of meager retributive solace to those who lost loved ones 10 years back. It must have galvanized the morale of American troops everywhere.
This signal act was the culmination of the work of many officials, from both the Bush and Obama administrations. No international hunt of a decade’s length, involving thousands of people, from front-line soldiers to the high-tech wizards of special services, the CIA, and personnel at the White House, could be described as anything less than a large team operation. As such, it manifested the resolve of an entire nation, a pursuit beyond the usual partisan boundaries.
Yes, it occurred on Obama’s watch. And, as is the way with these things, it falls therefore to his credit. And so it should. But, as is also the way with such things: If praise is to be given, it is best to come from others.
Self-administered flatteries, or public hosannas from close political allies, are tawdry and unconvincing.
Spiking the football in the end zone always is a vulgar display of raw egotism on the gridiron. It is equally unseemly when a political quarterback performs the same gesture in a more figurative context.
It is just such a gesture that we have witnessed during the one-year anniversary of Bin Laden’s killing, as Democrats cooed and crowed. Obama even played off the issue for jokes at the White House Correspondent’s dinner. Even Kim Khardashian chuckled.