As I begin the first part of series of posts on Afghanistan and Pakistan that will stretch over the coming days and weeks, I would like to first address myself to the notion that America can kill its’ way to victory in the troubled Afro-Pak region marked by insurgency attacks, bloodshed, and violence. The death of Osama Bin Laden was an important psychological victory, and a victory of freedom over the demons of terrorism. With all due respect to the victims of September 11th and the African embassy bombings, and the many Al Qaeda attacks since, Bin Laden for all his celebrity and renown within the terrorist world is one man, the rhetoric and speeches that get disseminated throughout the world are the more dangerous aspects of the man because they inspire people to action.
There is saying “You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea. That is the war that the United States is fighting, a war of ideas of which guns and bullets are essentially useless because where one Al Qaeda member falls, another inspired by his deed or ideology will rise in his place. Terrorist scholars argue “Well if you kill off one generation of terrorist leaders, the generation that replaces them may not be as skilled or talented to carry out the organizations attacks. From this viewpoint, it would be potentially possible to kill off the threat posed by Al Qaeda or another group. However, the idea that the group embraces through its’ ideology still exists and will be picked up by another group, if they choose to take up arms against a perceived occupier. In the United States therefore, we must be weary of putting too much significance on Bin Laden while ignoring the damage a lone wolf acting on a ideological belief can bring to our shores.