There is nothing bad about Osama bin Laden’s death, nothing our post-modern, post-heroic culture should apologize for, anguish over, deconstruct or lament. The elimination of bin Laden—and not by some faceless drone or double-dealing “ally,” but by the force and skill of American arms striking at close range—is a victory for the country, for the notion of justice, for America’s troops and intelligence officers. This is a good day to be an American.
How good? News of bin Laden’s death made today’s crop of college students—poisoned by years of moral relativism and politically correct bunk equating all uses of force as the same, declaring war as our enemy, teaching that nothing is worth fighting for or against—take to the streets and spontaneously sing the Star Spangled Banner while waving the American flag. They were waving the Marine Corps flag and Old Glory on the streets in front of the White House, chanting “USA!” in Times Square, climbing up trees to hoist the colors—our colors—high. Anything that can do that is wonderful and wondrous.
They have every right to be proud and wave flags and sing songs of victory. This is a great country that can do great things in war and in peace, with a great political system that can sustain and win long, twilight struggles, protected by a great military that is amazing not just because of its reach and determination, but also because of its restraint.
Never forget that as our elite strike force of Navy SEALs hunted down a mass-murderer masquerading as a holy man, other U.S. forces were feeding the hungry in sub-Saharan Africa, trying to stop a massacre in Libya, nurturing a fragile peace in Iraq, building bridges while fighting the medieval Taliban in Afghanistan, fighting pirates off the Horn of Africa. In recent years, they have rescued Haiti and Pakistan and Sumatra and Japan after disasters of biblical proportion; liberated Iraqis and Afghanis from vast prison states; and shielded Kosovars and Kurds, Kuwaitis and Koreans.
Their work never ends and never ceases to amaze and humble. They are America’s very best not because they wear a uniform, but because of what they do in that uniform, which leads us to our system of government and politics. Our defenders take their oath to the country and its constitution, not to a man. It pays to recall that the U.S. military’s long hunt for bin Laden began in the 1990s and was the shared work of three administrations, three commanders-in-chief. They are very different men, serving at very different moments in history: one in the pre-9/11 world, in a decade when the burdens of leadership and history seemed to be quaint relics of some bygone era; one amid the flames and fury of bin Laden’s maiming of Manhattan and the Pentagon, in the early days of a new twilight struggle; one in a decade when the scars and memories of that terrible Tuesday had started to fade. Yet for all their differences and disagreements, flaws and failures, imperfections and indiscretions, they pursued the same goal, the latter two with virtually the same team of warriors, generals and commanders in place, keeping just enough of the country on the same page to realize this day.
That’s the kind of tenacity and resolve that, viewing America through the distorted and grimy prism of our own popular culture, bin Laden and his ilk will never understand. Beneath the soft, flabby outer edges of our nation, there exists muscle and bone that can unleash an unspeakable, unrelenting fury. As one wartime president soberly put it, “It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war.”
After mocking America as impotent and cowardly, the enemy now understands this.
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