With the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death spawning major celebrations in several locations in the United States, one might be forgiven for briefly thinking the death of the al-Qaeda leader might actually change America’s foreign policy.
Bin Laden was, after all, not just the leader of one faction, but the US government’s chosen figurehead for all terrorism everywhere. 10 years of the hunt meant trillion of dollars in war spending, thousands of soldiers and upwards of a million civilian deaths, but last night the message was ‘all’s well that ends well.’
This morning, however, it isn’t even that, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reassuring the world that America’s assorted wars would continue in the wake of bin Laden’s death. Indeed, the killing is being presented less as a game-changer than as a vindication for the overall policy of endless war worldwide.
“You cannot defeat us,” Clinton insisted, while adding that the death of bin Laden some ten years after 9/11 proved that the US would “never abandon its pursuit of justice.” Incredibly, it seems bin Laden’s death has emboldened the hawkish Clinton, who also said the US would “boost” its counterterrorism efforts after the news.
At the same time, the State Department issued a global travel advisory for Americans, warning of a possible backlash over bin Laden’s death in the near term. Even if this backlash is not realized, the continuation of the wars is likely to ensure that anti-US sentiment will linger.