Political experts say killing of bin Laden was 'mission accomplished'
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com May 2, 2011 8:54PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
JOLIET — The death of Osama bin Laden on Sunday is a psychological victory for a country weary of war, said Joe Gaziano, chairman of the political science department at Lewis University in Romeoville.
“It’s part of the mission,” he said. “It’s mission accomplished — we got bin Laden.”
David Veenstra, an assistant professor of history at University of St. Francis in Joliet, said he hopes bin Laden’s death combined with ongoing revolutions in the Middle East show the people of those countries that there are options besides terrorism.
He said he’s amazed by what he sees unfolding in front of his eyes these past few months.
“It feels very much like the fall of Communism. These are things I did not imagine.”
Both professors spoke to The Herald-News on Monday to give their take on a post-bin Laden world.
Too many wars
Gaziano worries that even with bin Laden’s death, America has a long way to go to untangle itself from wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and now, to a lesser extent, Libya.
“I wish we would declare ‘mission accomplished’ and go home,” said Gaziano who teaches American foreign policy.
Gaziano said the United States has too many troubles at home to keep a presence in so many places around the world.
“The problem with us is, we don’t really ever go home. It’s like your bad relative who comes for the holidays and hangs out.”
There aren’t enough troops to fight so many places and those that are fighting are stressed, which has led to a higher suicide rate, he added.
“Maybe it’s just part of the American character that we think we can fix this stuff quickly, but sooner or later we’re in the soup and we can’t seem to get out. ... We’re still in Germany for crying out loud.”
Someday, the United States is going to have to find other ways to intervene in world politics, because waging war will never win the hearts and minds of people around the world, he said.
“The occupying army is always the enemy. ... You can’t bomb your way into peace.”
Veenstra, who teaches history of the Middle East, has a cautiously optimistic take on recent events in that region of the world. Bin Laden’s death alone wouldn’t change the course of history, he said.
“I think the biggest thing is the timing of it in the wake of such successful revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and ongoing revolutions in Libya and Syria,” he said. “I think the people in the Middle East are going to see a successful alternative to terrorism.”
Also, Veenstra said this could be the beginning of a new way of viewing Islam. Instead of one dominating figure such as bin Ladin or Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, “people in the street” will matter more.
“In the long run, and even in the short run, you’re going to see more emphasis on democratic movements for reform,” he said.
People in the Middle East may have a more positive view of Americans in the future as a result.
“Now people are going to have more choices out there,” Veenstra said. “People in the street don’t have to hate the United States. They see we stood for these values of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”
Bin Laden’s death also shows the world that the United States is tenacious, he said. For almost a decade, the country’s military tracked the al-Qaida leader.
“They did not give up.”
Perhaps, Gadhafi should be sleeping with one eye open, he added.
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