Yorktown, Appomattox, Armistice Day, VE Day, VJ Day, are all days that my forefathers, and mothers, celebrated. They signaled the end of wars or significant events leading to the end of wars. The death of Osama Bin Laden in Abbatobad is also such a day. It marks the closest thing we will experience to the defeat of Bin Laden's Al Qaeda. I celebrate that day with full voice.
Al Qaeda's military and political leader, Osama Bin declared war on the United States in a 1996 Fatwa entitled "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places." From that day until May 1, 2011 he lead his organization on a fifteen year war that killed thousands of Americans, caused billions of dollars of losses and terrorized may Americans. His war was also against other peoples, in fact anyone who disagreed with him, and he caused immense death, destruction and suffering worldwide.
When the 1996 fatwa was first issued there was concern but no one knew with certainty what it meant. We found out on August 7, 1998 with the bombings of the US embassies in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. Those attacks were followed with the October 12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. Then, eleven months later, New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville PA were attacked on 9/11.
Before the 9/11 attacks it was difficult to attack Bin Laden because he was being sheltered by the Taliban government in Afghanistan and the Pakistanis would not allow us to launch attacks from their soil. Our retaliatory options were limited and we were only able to attack Bin Laden's Al Qaeda from a distance, as with the cruise missile attack in 1998. Things changed after 9/11 because of the horrific nature of the attacks and their effect on most of the world community. We were finally able to attack Bin Laden's organization directly because the countries surrounding Afghanistan realized they could no longer assist the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan in giving him safe haven.
With the overthrow of the Taliban Bin Laden and his organization were on the run. They were wounded but still active. They were able to mount subsequent attacks in Madrid and London but were substantially weakened. However as long as Bin Laden, their military and political leader, their principle spokesman, their chief fundraiser, and their inspirational figure, was alive Al Qaeda would continue its war against the US. We could destroy as many safe houses as we could locate. We could kill as many of his soldiers as we could find. But as long as he was leading Al Qaeda it would always be there.
When this war started many people asked, "How will we know its over? There will be no final large scale battle. There will be no peace treaty." That is all true. The closest thing to an end point for this war, the closest thing to a moment of victory, was always going to be the death of Bin Laden.
Certainly there may well be some minor terrorist incidences that occur in the future. A few diehard Al Qaeda enthusiasts may try to reprise their old glory. But there is no infrastructure and above all there is no leadership for this pathetic group. The United States and the entire World are more secure than they were before May 1, 2011.
Like my father and mother who celebrated VJ Day, my father as a Marine in the Pacific and my mother as a Marine in Washington DC, I celebrated May 1, 2011, Abbatobod Day, the end of the leader of Al Qaeda. In doing so I was but echoing celebrations by long past relatives who fought in the Revolution, Civil War and World War I, who celebrated the end of those conflicts. We don't like war but we celebrate its end.
I should add that unlike the war against Bin Laden's Al Qaeda there was nothing about the Iraq war that was worthy of celebration. It was not only a fabricated war and illegal war, it was a dumb war that cause death and destruction to no good end. Such wars bring shame, and are never cause for celebration.