Using Bin Laden's Killing to Win Votes Is a Loser for Democracy; It Was a Year Ago Tonight That President Obama Told His Country Osama Bin Laden Was Dead, Writes David Williamson. the Death of an Old Foe Has Not Brought Peace to the Middle East but Has Exposed the Harm the War on Terror Has Caused to the Soul of the American Nation

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Using Bin Laden's Killing to Win Votes Is a Loser for Democracy; It Was a Year Ago Tonight That President Obama Told His Country Osama Bin Laden Was Dead, Writes David Williamson. the Death of an Old Foe Has Not Brought Peace to the Middle East but Has Exposed the Harm the War on Terror Has Caused to the Soul of the American Nation


* YEAR after his death, Osama bin Laden has been transformed from an icon of international terrorism into a political football.

A new pro-Obama advertisement asks the viewer whether Republican challenger Mitt Romney would have launched the mission which culminated in the killing of the al-Qaeda leader.

Democrats, long derided by rivals as weak on defence, have decided to milk the slaying of bin Laden for its electoral worth. The success of Operation Neptune Spear is brandished as proof that a president long lampooned for his professorial manner is a worthy commander in chief with the prerequisite guts.

Mr Obama, a former editor of the Harvard Law Review, is better qualified than most to appreciate the muddiness of the judicial and ethical waters into which he waded when he authorised the mission.

A year on, Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan remains alarmed by the killing.

Yesterday, he said: "It was a chilling, summary execution of the sort the war against terror was allegedly against."

There was uproar in Pakistan that the US Navy Seals had violated the country's airspace and not notified the government.

Enduring anger has stoked conspiracy theories. A popular myth is that bin Laden was not there at all. The Iranian Tehran Times this week quoted an American maverick academic stating: "Osama bin Laden died on or about the December 15, 2001. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Afghanistan in accordance with Islamic tradition."

The discovery that bin Laden was able to spend his final years in an affluent Abbottabad suburb was proof in the eyes of many western commentators that al-Qaeda must have sympathisers in the Pakistan establishment.

But in Pakistan, according to Amna Nawaz of NBC News: "The prevailing public dialogue among military and government officials in the immediate raid aftermath focused on how the US had managed to breach Pakistan's borders, not how bin Laden had."

The president's 11.30pm announcement of bin Laden's death marked the end of one chapter in the story of post-9/11 America but the saga of the United States' relationship with the emerging Muslim world is still in its opening act. The Middle East was not transformed through the killing of bin Laden but by the events of the Arab Spring.

The uprisings brought new democratic opportunities to Tunisia and Egypt which were successfully exploited by Islamists.

Michael Hirsh of the Atlantic magazine argues that these dictator-toppling revolutions have brought "for the first time in decades an alternative to violent jihad".

It is politics rather than terrorism that is transforming the balance of power in the Middle East.

Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan relishes his role as the popular leader of a regional power with a booming economy. …

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Using Bin Laden's Killing to Win Votes Is a Loser for Democracy; It Was a Year Ago Tonight That President Obama Told His Country Osama Bin Laden Was Dead, Writes David Williamson. the Death of an Old Foe Has Not Brought Peace to the Middle East but Has Exposed the Harm the War on Terror Has Caused to the Soul of the American Nation
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