THIS is the moment America struck back.Update: Leonard Pitts: 9/12/2001.
The killing of Osama bin Laden will have powerful strategic consequences around the world.
It is not the end of the war on terrorism.
But it is a big day in that war. It helps to show America's enemies that ultimately they pay the price.
It removes the most brazen boast of the terrorists - that they can thumb their nose at the Americans. It shows, too, nothing is beyond the reach of the US special forces. . .
This is a very big win for the US national security apparatus, and the intelligence services that have been so maligned in the past 10 years. . .
[T]he Pakistani government claims it did not know Osama bin Laden was hiding in a giant compound barely 100km from its capital, Islamabad.
It is utterly implausible that any international figure of note could hide in a mansion near Islamabad without the knowledge of the Pakistani intelligence services. Completely impossible.
If the Pakistani government did not know, it is the most incompetent government in the world. If it did know, then it was intentionally sheltering the most dangerous and infamous terrorist of our time. . .
But whatever the circumstances, this is a magnificent victory for the Americans, and for us, the Americans' allies.
It's My job to have something to say. They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock, when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering:
You monster. You beast. You bastard.
What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed!
Did you want us to respect you cause? You just damned your cause!
Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve!
Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together!
Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political, and class division, but a family nonetheless. We're frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous energy on pop culture minutia -- a singer's revealing dress, a ball team misfortune, a cartoon mouse. We're wealthy too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods. Maybe because of that we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent though -- peace loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God. Some people -- you perhaps -- think that any or all of this makes us weak. You are mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.
IN PAIN: Yes, we are in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We're still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did; still working to make ourselves understand that this isn't a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, you attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States, and probably the history of the world. You've bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before. But there is a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught, to it's bitter sorrow, the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When aroused we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice. I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as I think, you do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future. In days to come there will be be recrimination and accusation, fingers will be pointed to determine whose failure allowed this to happen, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heighten security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We'll go forward from this moment sobered, chastised, sad, but determined too. Unimaginably determined.
THE STEEL IN US: You see the steel in us is not always apparent. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don't know us well. On this day the family's bickering is put on hold. As Americans we will weep; as Americans we will mourn, as Americans we will rise in defense of all we cherish. So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that's the case consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don't know my people. You don't know what we are capable of; you don't know what you just started.
But you're about to learn!