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Osama bin Laden is dead, but not much may change on the foreign policy front

by Chris Hinyub, published

A number of contentious issues surrounding the reported death of the most wanted man in America has sparked partisan bickering over the execution of the Administration's wars, but these contentions have seemingly failed to drive a wedge between the parties when it comes to their only common ground: the need for preemptive war.


First of all, there is the matter of the “unpublished” photos of Osama's slain body, apparently secured by US Navy SEALs who performed the raid on the Pakistani mansion where the Al-Qaeda figurehead was said to be found. Officials have decided to keep most photographic evidence of the raid classified until they deem it “safe” to release more photographs to the public. Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) said in a CSPAN interview on Monday that dignity and respect would have to be maintained with the release of photos to liaison partners in Pakistan. White House spokesman Jay Carney echoed this line of thinking when he said that the sure-to-be “gruesome” photographs would likely be “inflammatory.”


Speaking of inflammatory actions, Osama's burial at sea has angered many Muslim commentators who have called the secretive disposal of his body "inhuman" and a violation of Muslim tradition. Rogers thought the burial was a “prudent” thing to do, “lessening the impact for those who want to make him more than he was.” Not burying him on land “removes any lasting impact of his death,” he added.


But critics question this logic and point to the fact that Quranic law forbids the idolization of the dead as well as the erection of shrines to honor human action. What's more, the lack of photographs for forensic analysis has only worked to incite government skeptics and has fanned conspiracy theories surrounding the former Al Qaeda leader's alleged ties to the CIA. How's that for a lasting impact?


Some Americans really are fighting to believe what the White House is trying to sell them -- that every interventionist choice made by Bush's heir has just been exonerated by two bullets from a soldier's gun. Obama is now a military achiever in ways Bush couldn't perform (Interestingly, Bush's brief moment of victory in Iraq was memorialized in a 2003 “mission accomplished” speech that shares an anniversary with the announcement of Osama's demise).


Let's think about this: the United States' unofficial military presence in Pakistan has now been “legitimized.” When speaking to the press, Representative Rogers chose his words carefully as to cement Pakistan as an essential target in the War on Terror.


Sunday's announcement also works to justify the president's highly controversial indefinite detention and rendition policies towards “enemy combatants.” Officials claim that torture didn't help the intelligence gathering effort that led to Osama's death, but Rogers did say that interrogations were critical to the success of the operation through the collection of small bits of information that were subsequently pieced together by intelligence analysts over a four year period. In his view, Bin Laden's death is a testament to the reformation of the intelligence apparatus during the 13-year manhunt for Osama. The fact that it took the U.S. so long to get to this milestone is not evidence of an intelligence failure, Rogers reiterated; rather, it's an example of all agencies working together to “slowly tighten the noose”.


It has also been inferred by leaders from both parties that we are getting somewhere with these wars. War hawks are using this news to promote the idea that the 6,000 servicemen who've died in the Middle East thus far, the deaths of the countless civilians caught in the ever-expanding warzone, and the $1.28 trillion price tag of bringing the alleged mastermind behind the 9-11 attacks to justice, were all necessary costs with overriding benefits.


Continued funding to hunt down more Al-Qaeda operatives will be a necessity, officials say. Rogers reminds us that Al-Zarqawi is the next “inspirational-viewed” leader who has the greatest scope and understanding of [Bin Laden's] operation. The Intelligence community's next top priority “is likely to be him,” the congressman added.


Meanwhile, news of the extra-judicial slaying of Gaddafi's youngest son along with his three grandchildren seems to have been overshadowed by Osama's death. On the same day we are told Bin Laden's compound was raided, NATO forces bombed the Gaddafi residence in an unsuccessful attempt on the Libyan leader's life.

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