Of all the statements I've seen so far on Osama's death from Republicans, I think the best was from Pete King, R-N.Y. He acknowledged the political risks that President Obama took in authorizing this mission — it could have easily turned into a Jimmy Carter-style mess and ruined him. A repeat of the failed Iranian rescue mission would have guaranteed a 2012 loss.
So Obama deserves a lot of credit for Many commentators are seeking to make some kind of political statement about Osama bin Laden's death. Over at Daily Kos, this video of President Bush from 2002 is making the rounds as evidence that he didn't take the mission of capturing or killing bin Laden seriously:
The problem is, Bush was right (in his own inarticulate way) when he said this. Don't take my word for it — take that of Secretary Clinton, who rightly points out that Osama's death does not end our problems.
This is not intended to take away from the significance of what's happened, just to put it in its proper context. This was about delivering justice, and also about snuffing out a highly romanticized (in some quarters) symbol of Islamic terrorism. But it probably means little in terms of al Qaeda's effectiveness as an organization.
I hope we will learn more in the coming weeks about what sort of organizational control bin Laden actually had over al Qaeda in the last months and years of his life. The measures he had to take to ensure his own safety virtually guarantee that his actual involvement has been seriously diminished ever since 9/11. This is part of the problem with fighting a decentralized group like al Qaeda, whose leaders are all replaceable and whose members may know little or nothing about the other malicious operators who share their cause.