Bin Laden Dead, What Next?
May 3, 2011, New York City
Sunday night IVAW learned with the rest of the nation that Osama Bin Laden was killed and his body captured by a team of U.S. Special Forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In light of our resolution condemning the occupation of Afghanistan adopted in 2009, we have followed this important news closely and want to share our perspective with supporters, elected officials, policymakers, the press, and the public at large.
Like many other Americans, IVAW welcomes the news of this weakening blow to Al-Qaeda and its threat to our nation and the world. Our hearts go out to the thousands of survivors and family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks as they search for closure in this event.
As service members and veterans who have experienced the Global War on Terror firsthand, we respectfully encourage the American people to consider the killing of Bin Laden with a measure of restraint. His death is only a symbolic victory. Although there is no doubt Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians, the path chosen by the Bush administration following 9/11 and continued under President Obama’s watch has cost us more than any one terrorist mastermind ever could. While it is right to remember those who died on 9/11, we should also be equally mindful of all those who have died as a result of our misguided wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The number of U.S. troops killed has topped 6,000 and estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan range in the hundreds of thousands.
The elimination of Bin Laden proves that our nation’s security issues are managed more effectively through political diplomacy and small, targeted attacks than costly mass military action. Our government has spared no expense in carrying out operations with no clear objectives or an end in sight, squandering trillions of dollars in spite of our nation’s economic crisis. Any citizen who is serious about the consequences of our foreign policy, the rule of law, or a true sense of justice needs to ask, has it been worth it? Whether you measure the tremendous costs of these wars in human lives or dollars, our position is that it has not been worth it.
The president claims that, “we can say that justice has been done.’’ But achieving real justice will not happen until the U.S. has removed all occupying forces and returned the right of self-determination to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Obama administration now has an opportunity to bring our troops home and scale back our military commitments overseas. Americans must reflect on the injustice of our own actions through violating international law, committing torture, suspending habeas corpus, and not holding our own leaders accountable.
Clearly our attempts to solve all our problems militarily have not worked. It is our sincere hope that President Obama will not conduct business as usual. While the president and his advisors will seek to capitalize politically on Bin Laden’s killing, it remains to be seen whether our foreign policy will change to reflect these new developments. Having removed Bin Laden from the equation, President Obama has lost a major source of rationalization for our continued occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. We reject any plans to extend our commitments elsewhere and want to see a hastening of the time line for withdrawal.
Members of the press are asked to contact our National Office for comment at 646-723-0989.