The Next Few Four Years

By: Chris Cummins
Staff Writer

Graphic by Scott Bennett

With the news of Osama bin Laden’s death and the celebrations that soon swept the nation, it’s inevitable that Obama’s presidency will be reevaluated in light of the death of one of this nation’s infamous enemies. Where before Obama was criticized for his supposed ‘weakness’ on foreign policy, the most recent being his reticence in supporting the Libyan rebels, he is now being praised by individuals as disparate as Karl Rove and Sarah Palin, with even former Vice President Cheney admitting that Obama deserved credit for the raid. It seems clear that the death of Al Qaeda’s figurehead will give Obama even more leverage as the next Presidential Election approaches.

Still, as one closely examines the circumstances surrounding the raid, the clear simplicity of the issue — American triumph over an enemy — grows complex and murky and gives pause to any unbridled enthusiasm of a victory.

One of the most contentious issues surrounding the raid is the reason why Osama bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world, was able to evade capture for so long while living in a conspicuously secure and fortified, military compound in a rural region of Pakistan, dominated and controlled by an authoritarian Pakistani police force.

No matter how Obama looks to the American public, he has put himself in a sticky situation with Pakistan, which connects Iran and Afghanistan and has always been a lukewarm ally of the U.S., due mainly to America’s support of India and rigorous pursuit of global terrorism.
It seems very likely that the clandestine Inter Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s shadowy secret police force, had something to do with bin Laden’s continual evasion of the CIA and Special Forces, especially as Pakistan’s main military academy was situated a mere 1000 yards away from the world’s most wanted fugitive; a fugitive that Pakistan had, at least according to its government official line, every reason to catch. Now, bin Laden’s death could very well be a tipping point, replacing a tepid ally we have nursed along for decades into an enemy that could very likely last longer.

Even now, hundreds of Pakistani citizens are already mourning the death of bin Laden, turning him into a martyr for their cause, just as many commentators and pundits feared. Additionally, the president will have to maneuver his way through the essential feeling of empathy a large amount of Pakistanis feel for bin Laden and those like him.

As of now, the Pakistani military, which was not officially informed of the raid, has expressed its displeasure at the raid via a strongly worded announcement in which it warned the Pentagon that any other surreptitious excursion on their territory would be met with disastrous consequences.

As of now, the U.S. gives Pakistan over $10 billion dollars in aid every year and that bond, though occasionally aggravated and strained, seems solid enough to weather this latest round of scratching.

The raid was a great success, by any measure, and if Obama can skillfully wield the embarrassment of having the world’s most infamous terrorist found living in relative luxury a few hundred yards from one of the nation’s premier military establishments, it seems likely, though not certain, that the issue will likely be overshadowed by the collective blush spreading among Pakistan’s elite. If the President handles this well, his second term seems to be within his grasp.