The Value of Boldness

By Wolfowitz, Paul | Newsweek, May 16, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Value of Boldness


Wolfowitz, Paul, Newsweek


Byline: Paul Wolfowitz

The president acted bravely in choosing to strike at Osama bin Laden. Will he act on behalf of the people of Libya next?

Symbolism matters, and the symbolism of Osama bin Laden's death was not what his followers might have expected of him. His was not a glorious death.

It was not for lack of trying that bin Laden was not killed or captured much sooner. But, in one sense, it is good that he lived so long--long enough to see the defeat of so many of his satanic dreams. Most of all, there is profound justice in the fact that he had a chance before he died to witness the overthrow of so many Arab dictators, overthrown not by his followers but by men and women who were lovers of freedom (and of Facebook).

One of the most extraordinary features of the protests that have swept the Muslim world has been the courage of the demonstrators. The great bravery of Tunisians and Egyptians has been exceeded by that of the Libyans and Syrians, while Bashar al-Assad and Muammar Gaddafi have joined the ranks of bin Laden as killers of the defenseless.

One of bin Laden's followers wrote that the trouble with democracy is that it encourages people to love life too much and fear death, and to become unwilling to perform jihad. What bin Laden and that writer fail to understand is that there are people who do love life but who love freedom more and are willing to risk their lives for it. It is that love of life--not a hope for paradise--that motivates the brave Americans who have defended their country through the generations. And we now see the same brave love of freedom demonstrated by thousands of Arabs.

When Mahdi Ziu, a 48-year-old Libyan oil executive and the father of two daughters, filled a car with propane canisters and detonated himself in it, he did so not to kill innocents but to save people by blowing open the gates of the Katiba military barracks in Benghazi and help the anti-Gaddafi rebellion in that city. …

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