Of course he deserved his fate. Of course he was evil incarnate.
Of course the brave men and women of our armed forces deserve our praise, respect and thanks.
But what is the appropriate reaction to such an event? How should we (how should I) react to our national ability to finally find and kill a tall, bearded, despicable needle in a needlstack? Sunday night Americans streamed into the streets to celebrate. Time magazine was so kind as to build a little slideshow of it (oh the page views!). We danced and chanted. We sang and hollered. Our team won! Yes we did.
We've been collectively waiting for a "Victory" with a capital "V" for quite some time. "We needed a win," say they. I've heard quite a few folks on the tv refer to our long dreary decade since 9/11: wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Great Recession, $5 gas, The Biggest Loser... but really it's been much longer than that, and really it's much bigger than that.
When was the last time we won a war? Really won one?
When will be the next time? Really win one?
War has changed radically since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, since Hitler tried to answer the German Question once and for all. Since we answered them with unvarnished violence and unity. War has become smaller. It has become television. It's become virtually impossible to "win." As politics have become pettier on the domestic stage so too, in a way,has war become smaller on the international one. Not that death and destruction should ever be minimized, but Pax Americana has never really been about Pax... but rather about minimizing the impact of Bellum to preserve the Order. Korea is still divided. Vietnam was the Quagmire but served its purpose according to the Containers. Proxy wars in Africa aren't satisfying to the population and Peace Keeping Missions? Please.
Sure, the Coalition beat back Saddam and sent him packing back to Baghdad (the first time), eventually pulling him from a hole (the second time) but... was there "Victory?"
So Sunday night we got 'em. We got it.
We won one.
It was tangible. It took a decade and the wealth & blood of a great nation, but we got one. And it wasn't drones or foreign intelligence that did it. It was good ole' fashioned Agency detective work and a chopper full of SEALs. So we danced in the streets and kissed the first girl we could find because Victories are hard to find these days and few and far between.