NEW YORK – The killing of Osama bin Laden by United States special forces constitutes a significant victory over global terrorism. But it is a milestone, not a turning point, in what remains an ongoing struggle with no foreseeable end.
The significance of what was accomplished stems in part from Bin Laden’s symbolic importance. He has been an icon, representing the ability to strike with success against the US and the West. That icon has now been destroyed.
Another positive consequence is the demonstrated effect of counter-terrorism operations carried out by US soldiers. As a result, some terrorists, one hopes, will decide to become former terrorists – and some young radicals might now think twice before deciding to become terrorists in the first place.
But any celebration needs to be tempered by certain realities. Bin Laden’s demise, as welcome as it is, should in no way be equated with the demise of terrorism.