Editorial Khaleej Times : After Bin Laden, what? 3 May 2011

Source : http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/editorial/2011/May/editorial_May6.xml&section=editorial&col=

The wet operation that ended in the killing of Osama bin Laden is being underscored by the US Department of State as a milestone in America’s ‘war on terror’.

In a campaign that is now in the last half of its 10th year, the costs of this ‘war’ have dwarfed most modern financial reckonings of conflict, not to mention the lives lost. Independent estimates place the price tag of the US military engagement in Iraq at over $780 billion since 2001, and at over $400 billion for its deployment in Afghanistan over the same period.
At more than $1.1 trillion, the sober question that is certainly being asked by those at home in America is: has it been worth it to reach this milestone? A more astute question would be: if the death of Osama bin Laden indeed signals the final demise of the Al Qaeda network, what will it take to wind down these wars and shut down those bases?
It will be some time before either of these is answered with some degree of belief, or trust in Washington’s governance of its military-industrial complex. Once the euphoria ends some of the questions will stay unanswered. The US and its allies will enjoy a self-congratulatory glow in the short-term future but, far to the west of Abbottabad, the long-term future of northern Africa is being determined by means no less violent than those that have forever removed bin Laden.
All of us would like, as rational and peaceable folk, to agree that war and economic stability, protracted conflict and human development do not and cannot coexist. Yet, for the last decade, the world’s richest countries and most militarily ambitious armed forces have done their best to tell us the opposite.
In the aftermath of the Abbottabad strike, which view is the truer reflection of our times? Agencies of the United Nations, those primarily concerned with helping people live better, healthier, safer lives, have spared no effort in telling us that more, not less, needs to be done for the world’s poor and vulnerable. The world body’s promise to halve global poverty by 2015 has failed. That trillion dollars could have gone a long way.
So, against that bleak backdrop, if the death of bin Laden is also a signal that obscenely enormous military spending will now be used to feed the hungry, teach the young and give them a safer future, then perhaps we can indeed call it a milestone.

And command the last weary soldier to go home

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