Fantasy and Reality

bin LadenEugene Robinson, the 2009 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is usually pretty good. Nothing outstanding, but very solid. However, today he is off in la-la land: "Now that he’s dead, let’s end bin Laden’s grip on us." Great sentiment - not gonna happen. The open:
Years from now, I believe, we will look back and say the elimination of Osama bin Laden changed everything. To borrow Churchill’s assessment of the Nazi defeat at El Alamein, “Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
First, don't borrow from Winston Churchill. Leading England during World War II is incomparable to everything else that has ever happened or ever will happen. Second, can we please stop comparing the latest evil-du-jour to the Nazis? Third, "elimination"? That's a weasel word for killing. If anybody's death doesn't need softening, it's bin Laden's. Fourth, can we please stop saying a single event "changed everything"? 9/11 didn't change everything, although America did change somewhat because of it. But the more important point is that bin Laden's death will change nothing.

All that from the first graf. Thankfully, like an atomic clock, Glenn Greenwald is right 24/7: "The bin Laden dividend."
Numerous people have argued that one potential benefit from the death of Osama bin Laden is that it will enable the U.S. Government to diminish its war commitments in that part of the world and finally arrest the steady erosion of civil liberties perpetrated in the name of the War on Terror (as though any of that is the government's goal). By contrast, I've argued from the start that the bin Laden killing is likely to change nothing of any significance, except that -- if anything -- the resulting nationalistic pride, the vicarious sensations of power and strength, the substantial political benefits for the President, and the renewed faith in military force would be more likely to intensify rather than arrest these trends.

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