He’s dead, Jim.

So I know that everyone is expecting me to write a long post about bin Laden’s death, and I was planning it, but then I saw this LOLbama (thanks to David Nachum) and it just said it better than anything else could:

Sorry it took so long to get you a copy of my birth certificate. I was too busy killing Osama bin Laden.

Serious kudos (and areté, and timé, though those are not in my power to grant; but they have been earned, indeed) to everyone who was involved in this, from the initial intelligence gathering and assessment all the way out to the strike team that actually did the deed. It really couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy. A few interesting points to mention:

  • Looks like a notably flawless execution. Zero US casualties, and on the other side bin Laden plus three other henchmen dead, two women wounded. For an operation like this, that’s absolutely amazing.
  • Pretty importantly, we recovered the body and buried it at sea. This is actually very important, and tells me that Obama really gets how to play this game; in the Islamic world, funerals are often the initiating points for mass movements, and tombs of martyrs become pilgrimage sites. I had been hoping they would at least do unmarked-grave-in-the-desert; the sea is even better. Top marks for strategy.
  • Obama’s remarks indicated thanks to the Pakistani government and so on, but were notably vague about whether they were notified before or after the operation. Not that I really give much of a damn, but it’s an interesting bellwether of our relationship with Pakistan.

On a slightly more general note, I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff which could be written about America’s changing attitudes towards assassination over the past few decades, going from loud protestations of “oh, we would never do that” to the President coming out to give a press conference about it. But that’s an article for another day.

In other Middle East news, Syria has been continuing to heat up, with protests continuing unabated despite a serious attempt to shut them down (very violently) by the government. al-Assad has signaled that he’s willing to play this one Hama-style, with a siege in progress at Dara’a that could easily turn into a massacre of the entire city. But I heard an interesting report this morning that Hezbollah has decided that the risk is too high, and is voting with their feet — they’ve started to move their heavy weapons stores out of Syria and into Lebanon. This could be a very tempting target, so if you hear that Israel decides to bomb the crap out of some targets in Lebanon in the next few weeks, don’t be surprised.

Published in: on May 2, 2011 at 10:46  Comments (3)  
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  1. The assassination angle is definitely among the more interesting to me. I linked to this last night, but you might want to read it: http://hir.harvard.edu/leadership/on-the-offensive?page=0,0

    • Oh, thanks — I missed the link last night. This is definitely a very interesting issue.

  2. Based on the interview i saw with Musharraf, it appeared that he was not notified in advance.

    I’m not sure if I’d call this an assassination. Bin Laden may have been more valuable as a prisoner than dead, but capture may have proven too difficult. Some of the drone strikes seem more like assassinations to me than this operation.

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