Afghanistan

Five Myths About Osama Bin Laden

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
May 6, 2011 |

Few individuals in recent history have exerted greater influence on world events than Osama bin Laden — and even fewer have elicited as much mythology. From the origins of the al-Qaeda terrorist network to the devastation of Sept. 11, 2001, to the manhunt that came to an end with such drama last Sunday, bin Laden's life has been shrouded in mysteries and misconceptions that will far outlive him.

1. The CIA created Osama bin Laden.

A Faltering Bargain with Pakistan

  • By
  • Anatol Lieven,
  • New America Foundation
May 5, 2011 |

U.S.-Pakistan relations in recent years have been founded on a kind of bargain—an unstated and unstable bargain, but one that until this week seemed basically workable. The U.S. administration would turn a partially blind eye to the shelter given by Pakistan to the Afghan Taliban leadership; in return, Pakistan would genuinely cooperate against international terrorist plots directed at the American homeland. The location and death of Osama bin Laden in the vicinity of a Pakistan military academy calls that bargain, and the whole future of the American-Pakistani alliance, into question.

The Crossroads

  • By
  • Peter Bergen,
  • New America Foundation
May 4, 2011 |

The death of Osama bin Laden will raise the inevitable question: What are we still doing in Afghanistan? The answer, of course, is that the mission in Afghanistan is about something bigger and more ambitious than eliminating Al Qaeda's leaders—most of whom, in any event, are probably living in Pakistan, as bin Laden was when the United States finally tracked him down. No, the mission in Afghanistan isn't about killing Al Qaeda members.

Not Just a Figurehead

  • By
  • Fred Kaplan,
  • New America Foundation
May 2, 2011 |

The killing of Osama Bin Laden is no mere act of symbolism. Besides finally disposing of the world's No. 1 terrorist target and idol, the deed opens up some opportunities for a broader breakthrough in the war against al-Qaida—and, potentially, for a settlement of the war in Afghanistan.

'Geronimo KIA'

  • By
  • Andrés Martinez,
  • New America Foundation
May 3, 2011 |

That felt good, didn’t it?

There are plenty of reasons – both analytical and moral – to stifle euphoria at the news of Osama bin Laden’s killing. It is unlikely to make a material difference in the operational capabilities of the loose federation of terrorists operating under the al-Qaida banner. A death, no matter whose, is a dubious cause for celebration. Things could get dicey with Pakistan. Vengeance isn’t a healthy craving. Yadda yadda yadda.

And yet: that felt so good. Go with it, embrace the catharsis.

Bin Laden Killing Erases Democrats' Wimp Factor

  • By
  • Peter Beinart,
  • New America Foundation
May 3, 2011 |

The killing of Osama bin Laden has greater potential to change the Democratic Party's reputation on national security than any single event since Vietnam. It almost perfectly rewrites the narrative of Democratic weakness that Republicans have labored decades to build.

The War on Terror Is Over

  • By
  • Peter Beinart,
  • New America Foundation
May 2, 2011 |

No human's death is ever a blessing. But this comes close. Many modern revolutionaries have committed terrible crimes in pursuit of a vision that, at least in theory, had moral value. Osama bin Laden's vision, by contrast, was both totalitarian and parochial. And he murdered freely in its pursuit. He was evil in both ends and means.

Why This Won't End World War IV

  • By
  • Michael Lind,
  • New America Foundation
May 3, 2011 |

When the al-Qaida attacks on 9/11 were followed by a debate about whether the campaign to defeat Osama bin Laden and his network should be thought of as police work or war, I was surprised. The idea of a "war on terror" seemed obviously inappropriate, even as a metaphor. In its structure and modus operandi, al-Qaida and other terrorist networks were and are more like international criminal organizations -- drug smuggling or prostitution cartels, for example -- than like states. The U.S.

America Reboots

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
May 3, 2011 |

When I got to ground zero at 10 minutes past midnight Sunday night, a few hundred people, mostly   young men, were hooting and hollering in the direction of two kids waving a 3' x 4' American flag with a black-and-white image of Marilyn Monroe emblazoned on it.  Scores of people were thrusting their camera phones in the air taking pictures of the swirling crowd, and complete strangers were shooting one another friendly glances.

Bin Laden Assassinated Not Martyred

  • By
  • Parag Khanna,
  • New America Foundation
May 2, 2011 |

In the decade since 9/11, many senior al Qaeda leaders and operatives have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, yet still all of these countries remain fragile at best and collapsed at worst.

For Osama bin Laden's assassination to become a turning point rather than a Pyrrhic victory, the narrative of the event must be dramatically shifted away from rhetorical overtones about a "war of ideas" or "struggle for soul of Islam" towards a more neutral and universal appeal to a global rule of law.

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