It’s Not Over
I agree with the right-wingers on one thing: it’s not over. The “War on Terror” was not really a war to begin with, but what it really was–an attempt to quell the use of terror tactics by fundamentalists and others as a result of our Middle East policies–was around well before bin Laden, and will continue. Bin Laden’s death was significant, but not in that it ends all of our problems.
Getting bin Laden was not the magic bullet that makes terrorism stop. It was, however, greatly symbolic, and has value to that extent. It could be, in a way, our excuse to leave. Because Afghanistan was not really crucial to end the bigger problem, and Iraq certainly wasn’t. The answers lie elsewhere.
Do we need to be in Afghanistan? Will it bring great harm if we leave? Depends on what’s important to you, and what you think we can accomplish. I’m not expert, so my guess here is just that–a blind guess. But I would imagine that in the long run, it won’t make much difference. Unless we expend huge amounts of money and a great many lives to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely–which I do not see as being feasible–the country will probably, inevitably, devolve back into something similar to what it was before. Will that harm us and the region? Possibly, but I would argue that it would not be much better overall if we stayed.
We need to get out of Iraq, out of Afghanistan. We need to make the military into something far less bloated, far more surgical and precise. This is not a new idea, but it is a good one. Do this, cut the hundreds of billions wasted in that part of the budget, bring back more reasonable tax rates for the wealthy and corporations, and we stand a good shot of turning this sucker around. And maybe this event today was what we needed to start doing that.
Not that I think it’ll happen.