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On the War on Terror and the death of bin Laden

May 2, 2011

The killing of Osama bin Laden comes at an interesting time for me. For the last week or so I’ve been noting how my opinions have shifted towards non-aggression, at least for Christians. I don’t feel like Christians should necessarily not be in the military. I do think we need to be more careful about the methodologies we used in achieving set goals.

The various conflicts in the “War on Terror” were birthed from the terrorist attacks that occurred on September, 11, 2001. This event killed about 3,000 civilians with an additional 6,000 injuries. In the decade since then we’ve frequently heard people reference 9/11 with mantras like, “Remember 9/11” as the justification for war.

I am not necessarily against these sorts of retaliatory events, which I supposed leads to a major personal conflict. The question that has frequently come up in my mind is, “to what end?”. In the last decade we’ve managed to topple the Iraqi government and deposed Saddam Hussein. Yesterday President Obama announced that we have hunted down and killed Osama bin Laden, who was considered the leader and mastermind behind Al-Qaeda. Both of these events are certainly good things for people interested in eliminating enemies of the US and those that fund them.

However, in the process of achieving these two goals we have also done things that I question. The cost of “Remember 9/11” in Iraq and Afghanistan is approaching $1.2 trillion. The combined death toll has been somewhere around 300,000 with roughly half of those being civilians. With the death of bin Laden, lots of social media is getting thrown around that basically says, “The US always finishes the job” and “Don’t mess with the US, because we will get you” and “That will teach you for killing US civilians”, which I recognize are largely reactionary opinions. Still, these sorts of attitudes often make me wonder to what extent are we willing to go in order to “prove” our superiority.

I realize this post is very disjointed. What I posit is the following: today is not a day to celebrate as some sort of great victory. Yes, we have killed the leader of Al-Qaeda, and that is good. However in doing so we may have further shoved a stick into the hornet’s nest. Yes, in killing bin Laden we have achieved a goal put in place nearly a decade ago, but let us be sober in our elation, remembering that in order to achieve this goal many more than the September 11th, 3000 have died or been killed because war was brought upon their lands.

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