Guy W. Farmer: After Osama bin Laden, there's more to be done

Although I've been critical of President Obama on defense and national security issues from time to time, he deserves full credit for authorizing the clandestine operation that tracked down and killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden last Sunday.

Also deserving of fulsome praise are the Central Intelligence Agency, which located bin Laden's heavily fortified hideout in Pakistan, and the brave Navy SEALs who carried out the risky operation. As we used to say Down Under, "Good on 'em!" But that doesn't mean we can declare victory in the War on Terror, also known as "overseas contingency operations." I don't want to see any "Mission Accomplished" banners.

After calling bin Laden "a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children" (including nearly 3,000 victims of the horrific 9/11 kamikaze attacks), Obama thanked "the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who've worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome." I was happy to hear that because many Americans who are quick to criticize the CIA fail or refuse to recognize the agency's accomplishments in the War on Terror.

As I observed at the outset, however, this battle isn't over, not by a long shot. As Obama said, "We must remain vigilant at home and abroad" because al-Qaida, the bloodthirsty international terrorist organization that bin Laden headed, will undoubtedly seek retribution for his death in the coming weeks and months.

Richard Haass, president of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that bin Laden's death represents "a milestone, not a turning point, in an ongoing struggle without a foreseeable end." But, he added, any celebration needs to be tempered by two realities: (1) bin Laden's death doesn't mean the demise of terrorism and (2) his death "underscores yet again that Pakistan ... is less than a full partner" in the War on Terror. Obama stressed that point when he urged Pakistan to "continue to join us in the fight against al-Qaida and its affiliates."

This is a worldwide struggle and Americans must face an ominous new reality. Our embassies were immediately placed on high alert and security was increased at airports and train stations. A State Department advisory warned overseas Americans "to limit their travel outside their homes and hotels and to avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations." Good advice.

After bin Laden's death was announced, congratulations poured in from around the country and around the world. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the GOP's 2008 presidential candidate, commended President Obama, the Navy SEALs and intelligence operatives for tracking down and killing bin Laden. And the president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council spoke for many of us when he hoped that bin Laden's death marks "the end of an era of darkness" in U.S. - Muslim relations.

Both British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the U.S. action as a major coup in the fight against terrorism. And now all of us should unite to defeat the bloodthirsty Islamo-fascist terrorists who want to kill us.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a retired diplomat.


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