A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
May 3, 2011 The Death and Bin Ladin and the Impact on Israel and the Middle East
It has been almost 48 hours since Bin Ladin was killed. It is time now for a little reflection on its impact on the Middle East and terrorism. It has been repeated endless times that this is not the end of the war on terrorism, and that Al Qaeda will continue to be a threat. Both those facts are true, but I think many understate the impact of Bin Ladin's demise. Some leaders cannot be easily replaced, and Bin Laden is one of those. His leadership goes beyond his actions, but to the ideas he represented. Bin Ladin's very success at eluding the US gave strength to his organization and his ideas. It seemed to have given him almost "god like" powers. He is dead now, killed by American commandos. He was not killed by missiles or bombs, but by flesh and blood Americans who killed him face to face. There is no one as "god like" as Bin Ladin anymore. Whatever any one may think about American power, it is clear the US has the means, and the will to eventually exact the retribution it feels it needs. This should give many pause.
The death of Bin Ladin has also taken place at a propitious time in the Middle East. Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda have long been claiming that the way clear the Middle East of authoritarian governments was to cleanse it of American, European, Christian and Jewish influence; which they chose to achieve through terror. Instead, many of those regimes have fallen or are tottering, as a result of people and power exercised, primarily by peaceful means. These events have already undermined Al Qaeda. Osamas death will hopefully further that process. Please do not think I am being a Pollyanna. I am not stating that all will be coming up roses. Just that the chances of finding some happy endings has clearly improved in the last 48 hours.
As to Israel, these events have three impacts. First, it strengthens America. The very success of the mission shows that although America will seem to ebb and flow, and despite the fact that America is facing a fiscal crisis that will no doubt impact its military strength, its capabilities remain in comparable. In addition, America's military is able to can use a scalpel, as well as a sledgehammer. A Strong America is important to Israel.
Second, on the eve of the signing of the agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority tomorrow, Hamas made a serious political mistake in attacking the US action. This will make it ever more difficult for this joint agreement to get international backing. I will write more on the agreement tomorrow after it is signed.
Finally, Bin Laden's death clearly strengthens President Obama in advance of Netanyahus trip to Washington. A week ago the Prime Minister was expecting to go to Washington and speak to Congress at a time when the President was clearly weakened. This is not the case. It is not at all clear how important it is to President Obama to make progress on the Israel-Palestinian front, especially after the above Palestinian merger. However, if Obama is willing to tilt at windmills in the Mid-Eastern direction, Prime Minister Netanyahu faces a greatly strengthened President, with whom Netanyahu has failed to establish a good working relationship.