"Renaissance Thinking About the Issues of Our Day"
If there is one thing that we can take away from the death of Osama Bin Laden - it’s that war doesn’t work.
Bin Laden wasn’t killed because we have 100,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan - he was killed thanks to superb intelligence gathering - intelligence by the way that was NOT gathered through the use of torture - just ask Donald Rumsfeld who explicitly said the useful intel did not come from torture.
And he was killed thanks to an elite force of Navy SEALs - two dozen in number - who were able to act swiftly on the intelligence and move in with a surgical operation with no collateral damage - and with no one even knowing it happened until after they were done.
President Obama didn’t need a bullhorn on a pile of rubble, or to make a dramatic landing on an aircraft carrier.
He didn't have to bomb a country back to the stone age and then throw 100,000 troops into Pakistan on Sunday to get Bin Laden - he just needed two dozen well-trained men.
Tragically - similarly - Bush didn’t need to carpet bomb Kabul and launch a full scale invasion to get Bin Laden ten years ago.
In fact - Bin Laden could have been taken out 9 years ago had Bush just listened to his advisors who said we had Bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora - and a thousand Marines could finish him off for good.
Unfortunately, Bush said no to the Marines - he needed them for oil-rich Iraq.
Heck - Bin Laden could have been nabbed days after 9/11 had Bush taken up Mullah Omar’s offer to let Afghanistan arrest Bin Laden and hand him over to a third country for a trial.
But instead of the surgical mission and instead of working with the Afghans - Bush diverted those Marines to Iraq to launch another full scale war, and told Mullah Omar where he could stick his offer.
Bush wanted to "go it alone".
And after ten years - and trillions of dollars of going it alone - we’ve learned one thing about this war strategy - it only creates more war and violence.
Bush and Bin Laden belong to the same school of thought.
They both believe the only way to win - whether it be territory or hearts and minds - is through extreme violence and war - to kill them all or kill enough of them that the rest surrender.
And ten years ago - they both put in place this strategy.
We littered the Middle East with both overt and covert wars - and Bin Laden countered everywhere we went with even more extreme violence and war - Al-Qaeda wasn't in Iraq until we got there.
And in the end - what do both sides have to show for it? We are no closer to stamping out religious extremism - after ten years - the Taliban is on the rise in Afghanistan again.
And now Bin Laden is dead - and Al Qaeda is becoming less and less significant in the Arab world - but because Muslims are seeing how toxic Bin Laden's thinking is, not because of Bush's wars.
And there are hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians dead, and 5 million more displaced, as a result of Bush and Bin Laden’s wars.
War kills people - it doesn’t solve problems.
Unlike Bush and Bin Laden - Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi knew war wasn’t good for anything.
They both has visions - they both wanted to create a new world just like Bin Laden and just like Bush.
But instead of arming themselves - instead of planting bombs in cars and flying planes into building and lobbing cruise missiles in civilian neighborhoods - Gandhi and King just sat there.
Literally - they just sat there.
They relied on their message and the righteousness of their cause - and they sat there - and they marched - and they demonstrated.
And before long - the masses bought in - not because they were forced to at the end of a gun barrel - but because right prevailed over might.
Because Gandhi and King used non-violence - they were successful where others like Bush and Bin Laden have failed.
And we see this same dynamic playing out all across the Middle East and North Africa.
In Egypt and Tunisia - we saw the two strategies collide - peaceful protests clashing with violent government put-downs - and in both Egypt and Tunisia - non-violence won the day.
And in both those nations - there were two voices conspicuously absent - Bin Laden’s and Bush’s - no one wanted any part of their violent messages.
Why? Because the people are finally catching on that it doesn’t work.
The Arab revolts we are witnessing are taking down despots like Mubarak and at the same time silencing religious extremists like Bin Laden.
Both Bush and Bin Laden thought they could win the future with war - instead they've lost the last decade - and Bin Laden has no future - and because of Bush's wars the future for the United States is looking bleaker than it has in over a century.
If we really want to win the future - as President Obama intends to do - then we need to stop the wars and once again become a nation that builds up both itself and others - that advocates privacy - life - and nonviolence - and that values education and human rights more than it does death and war.
The biggest lesson out of the Middle East is that the violent guy both lost and is pretty universally hated - and the nonviolent people in Egypt and Tunisia are showing the way - through their successes - that others from Hamas to Israel and the United States should follow.
That's The Big Picture.