Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Justice Has Been Served

This picture was taken by White House photographer Pete Souza on May 1, 2011, while President Barack Obama and senior staff oversaw the mission against Osama bin Laden
Think back to where you were on 9/11/2001. I was in the 7th grade, walking to my math class, when I heard rumors of a bomb going off in the capital. When I got to class, my teacher turned on the television only to inform us that the situation was far worse than we could ever expect.

For the years since 9/11, I was slightly relieved to hear that the terrorist behind those attacks had been on the run, living in small and isolated caves awaiting his fatal destiny. However, we soon learned that he has, instead, been living openly in an expensive and luxurious mansion just miles away from an elite Pakistani military academy and the country’s capital city. The mass murderer who was responsible for the largest and most devastating attack on U.S. soil was living in relative comfort.

But just as I will never forget that gloomy morning, I will always remember that glorious night on 5/1/2011—the evening that President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was dead.

Although I do not believe in celebrating anyone’s demise, a good friend of mine (Robert Parrish) reminded me that we Americans are celebrating not the death of a human being, but rather the elimination of the face of terrorism that put Americans on edge for the past 10 years and that started one (arguably two) wars which have yielded few victories.

For those still uncomfortable with the death of bin Laden, I ask you to think of the thousands of innocent men, women, and children who were taken from us that sad morning. I ask you to think of our brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day so that we can enjoy freedoms that other nations can only dream of. The death of this terrorist provides the American people with some sense of cloture and provides us with “liberty and justice for all.”

The news of bin Laden’s death brought back that sense of unity and pride that we, as a nation, have not felt since the aftermath of the attacks. It has certainly been a refreshing, yet bittersweet, reflection of the spirit of America. For a brief moment, we gave strength to those famous words on the back of the dollar bill: E pluribus unum—“Out of many, one.”

But now I hear some Republicans, the same ones who have been scorning the president as weak and ineffectual in foreign policy, arguing that the capture of bin Laden is a result of continuing the policies established by President George W. Bush. I disagree.

I am a strong believer in giving credit where it is due. And both presidents do deserve credit. The kind of covert operation that ensued Sunday night is a result of cumulated information that we started gathering after invading Afghanistan under President Bush’s leadership. However, the war in Iraq shifted much of the needed resources from Afghanistan and lost focus on the real target.

When President Obama took office, however, he insisted that we end the Iraq War and refocus on Afghanistan and Pakistan to hunt down the man who had become an international symbol of terrorism and American weakness. As a result, Obama was able to accomplish a great victory and a “Mission Accomplished” in two years that Bush could not do in eight. And as far as I am concerned, if the economy is completely under Obama’s control, so is everything else—including this mission.

So for those that questioned President Obama’s leadership, or have any doubts about his ability to be tough or decisive, Sunday night should have proven you wrong.

However, as I mentioned before, the real credit goes to all of our brave military members. This should NOT be a time of partisan politics and bickering. Instead, we should pay respect to the thousands who have been negatively affected by bin Laden’s torturous tenure. Justice has been served, and that should be the end of it.

As Obama mentioned in his announcement, bin Laden’s death reminded everyone of the pride shared by Americans in "what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics…It is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges we still face.”

Even Steven Colbert understands:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mission Accomplished!

Michael Appleton for The New York Times
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Today, I am proud of President George W. Bush.
Today, I am proud of President Obama.
Today, I am proud of our amazing men and women of the armed forces!
Today, I am so proud to be an American!

On September 11, 2001, four U.S. planes were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. The attack killed nearly 3,000 brave men, women, and children in a matter of hours. Soon after, President Bush launched a full scale war against Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. Although we have had many successes, the war in Afghanistan has cost us an additional 2,000 of our bravest service men and women.

By the leadership of President Bush; the perseverance of President Obama; and the incredible work of our military forces, we can now declare that Osama bin Laden is dead!

Although Al-Qaeda is still at large and will stop at nothing to deteriorate the foundations of democracy and the values we hold so dearly, it is a great victory and re-assures our military, our citizens, and the world that we can and will prevail.

Tonight should not be a night of partisan politics. It should be a night of celebration, relief, and reflection. With more than 5,000 American lives lost as a direct result of the devastating attacks on 9/11, justice has been served!

As President Obama said in his speech tonight:

“Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are.

And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda's terror--Justice has been done.”