People have drawn various conclusions from the assassination of Usama bin Laden in Abbotabad, a city where I spent part of my childhood. Robert Fisk and Rahimullah Yusufzai believe the death little more than give belated relevance to a figure made largely redundant by the recent Arab revolts. His significance to the transnational phenomenon known as Al Qaeda was largely symbolic. But in death, symbols always yield to myth and assume higher potency. To the extent that a threat exists to the US, it is unlikely that it will be effected by this death one way or the other. For the moment however, the main price will be paid by the Pakistani public which inevitably stands in the way of all blowback.
But neoconservatives and other elements of the Israel lobby have drawn different, if predictable, conclusions. First we have the dependable Alan Dershowtiz praising the killing because according to him it vindicates Israeli policy of extrajudicial murder. According to him ‘Israel developed the concept of targeted killings’ which is not only an ‘effective’ and ‘lawful’ tool, but also a ‘moral’ one! in the war against terrorism. Next we have Bill Kristol, who has issued a statement co-signed with Elizabeth Cheney through Keep America Safe, another one of his myriad letter head organizations (LHO), praising the assassination as a vindication of the torture regime. Interestingly, the theory was immediatley debunked by a somewhat unlikely source. Thus Donald Rumsfeld: ‘It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.’