Bin Laden’s death is a long time coming, and it is something that should be celebrated. One cannot begrudge the glee of Americans celebrating at Ground Zero today.
But all of this celebration must be tinged with a degree of realism. Obama has every reason to be happy – his re-election, probable before, is now almost certain – but the situation on the ground of Afghanistan has not changed. The Taliban remain, the various branches and incarnations of al-Qaeda remain, the War on Terror remains. A figurehead has been eliminated, but the fighting will continue.
That is not to say that Bin Laden’s death is meaningless. One can only look at the scenes in New York around Ground Zero to see that his death is a morale booster, something that will embolden the effort against terrorism. The reaction on the other side will be a mixture of shock, revenge and indifference, but it cannot escape notice that Bin Laden was tracked down and killed by a vengeful America, thought it took far longer than it should have.
Bin Laden was a nasty man, and few will mourn him. The west must work to ensure that his legacy is not one of inspiring further terrorism, but simply as a radical fundamentalist, who murdered his way to prominence, and fell as he lived, by the sword.
Much work remains.