WASHINGTON – Was the shot that killed bin Laden also the opening shot in Obama's re-election campaign? The previous tenant at the White House, George W. Bush, swore to US citizens to bring Osama bin Laden "dead or alive." Yet it was Barack Obama who received him on a silver platter, possibly along with the key for a second term at the White House.
During the annual dinner for White House correspondents, held Saturday evening, Obama already knew that his efforts will succeed, or fail, in the morning hours – yet he kept a poker face. Even when comedian Seth Meyers, who spoke at the event, took a jab at Obama for failing to nab bin Laden, the president said nothing and smiled from ear to ear.
Only Obama knew that he will be laughing last: After that night, nobody will be asking him to present a birth certificate. The president also settled a score with Donald Trump after breaking into his show, The Apprentice, to announce bin Laden's death.
Following numerous protests held outside the presidential residence in Washington, last night Americans cast their disagreements aside and were all in favor. It was an outbreak of patriotism not seeing in America for a while. One young man among the thousands celebrating at the site expressed it best with a placard reading: "Obama – 1, Osama – 0."
Gift for AmericansThe bin Laden assassination is an immense gift for the American people, who had a tough time since September 11, 2001. It serves as a priceless morale boost to US troops stuck in the impossible Afghanistan and as a significant contribution to the stature of the US president, who will run for reelection in a year and a half.
However, we must keep in mind that in political life a year and a half is akin to eternity, the American economy is still faltering, and it's unclear which Republican candidate will run against the serving Democratic president.
Observers in Washington are impressed that the intention to assassinate bin Laden was not leaked during the long months of preparations and meetings held by Obama with a small team of senior National Security Council officials. While the operation was carried out by commandoes who came out of a chopper, the order was given by the president, the commander-in-chief of the US military and the man who would have assumed responsibility for a failure, but took all the credit for the victory.
Indeed, this dramatic political gift to President Obama may pave the way for a second term at the White House.
Focus on AfghanistanTo Obama's credit, he took the war in Afghanistan more seriously than his predecessor, George W. Bush, who focused America's military activity in Iraq. Obama decided to pull troops from Iraq and send another 30,000 soldiers for an offensive on Taliban strongholds. Obama also boosted the number of unmanned aircraft strikes 10-fold, targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban posts in the no-man's land between Pakistan and Afghanistan with Hellfire missiles.
Yet those comforted by thinking that bin Laden was hiding in a cave within this no-man's land discovered that the arch-terrorist lived like a sheikh in a luxurious villa not far from Islamabad. Now all that's left is to see to what extent his death will revive Obama at the polls, which were recently affected by drastic fuel price hikes and a feeling that the US is still not over the economic crisis.
To a large extent, bin Laden is responsible for America's financial trouble, the huge direct expenditures in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the tourism losses, the investment in security, and above all, the immense expenditures on two wars, which the Americans still pay for with steep interest.
People in Washington have not yet spoken about the implications of bin Laden's assassination on the presidential race, but they are already dealing with the American public's fatigue over the war in Afghanistan. We can now expect fiery debates in Congress and a popular demand to start withdrawing American troops from the country.
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