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[Editor’s Note: This news article is reprinted with permission from the Delaware Gazette.]

OWU professor: Divert military resources from Afghanistan
ANDREW TOBIAS Delaware Gazette Staff Writer

May 4, 2011

DELAWARE, OH – The death of Osama Bin Laden is undoubtedly a strong symbolic and tactical victory for the United States and the world, said Sean Kay, the chair of Ohio Wesleyan University’s international studies program and expert on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and global security.

“It provides America with a vital bookend to 9/11,” Kay said in an email interview with the Gazette on Monday.

But it also raises questions about why bin Laden was living so comfortably in Pakistan, as well as whether the United States’ mission in Afghanistan is wrapping up and if its time and military resources might be better used elsewhere else, he said.

It’s in the revolutionary movement in Egypt and other Middle East countries where the War on Terrorism has really been won, according to Kay. This is where the United States should focus its resources, said the professor, who is the author of the soon-to-be-published second edition of “Global Security in the Twenty-first Century: The Quest for Power and the Search for Peace.”

Q: What is the symbolic and logistical significance of Osama Bin Laden’s death?
This is a hugely significant symbolic event for America and the world, and a real testament to the intelligence community and the operational skill of the soldiers on the ground. It provides America with a vital bookend to 9/11. As to the logistics, Al Qaeda has evolved for some time into more of an effort to inspire other groups to carry out attacks, rather than coordinating them as they did pre-9/11. Also, still at large is (Ayman Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian whose whereabouts are currently unknown) who is really the operational leader of Al Qaeda. But it is impossible to understate the significance of the killing of bin Laden — both for what he perpetrated on America and also the pain he brought around the world, including to the Muslim world.

Q: In what sense do the circumstances of bin Laden’s death raise questions about Pakistan’s relationship with the United States?
It appears that this structure (where bin Laden was reportedly staying) was built new in the last several years, and just a few hundred meters away from Pakistani army/police training facilities, if I understand the briefings I have seen correctly. Either way, it is clear that bin Laden was living a rather safe existence in Pakistan — and it was through very precise and innovative intelligence gathering that the location was verified as a high-profile target.

America has had a tricky relationship with Pakistan for a long time now. Much credit has to be given to President Obama and his national security team who in 2009 shifted the war framework from “Afghanistan” to “Af-Pak” — which included Pakistan. There has been a major uptick since the war in Pakistan, especially the use of drone aircraft bombings against high-profile al Qaeda and Taliban targets. But we have also had to rely on Pakistan for its cooperation, granted in a tricky environment for them politically. Bottom line, it seems very hard to imagine that the Pakistani intelligence services and their army could not have known what or who was in this compound. That said, I also think that it is done, and while there might be some outcry there, the vast majority of people in Pakistan — and the Muslim world — will be very glad to know that someone as evil as bin Laden no longer tries to speak on their behalf.

Q: Does this development bring greater legitimacy to American foreign policy (which has been criticized some in the U.S. and especially abroad) in the “War on Terrorism” era?
What makes American foreign policy “legitimate” is how well it is calibrated to reflect first and foremost the vital national interests of the United States. Then the question becomes “How do we best align what are our interests with both strategy and tactics?” — meaning goals and means. There is no question that a major interest of the United States is to be respected and valued abroad as that is a major part of our power. But the central core value of American power is our strength at home. To my mind, anyway, the best way for America to lead in the world is to set the best example we can here at home. Of late, we have collectively not been doing a great job at that. America has huge challenges to confront.

My first reaction to hearing of bin Laden’s death was to think and pray for those killed on 9/11 and for their families — and feeling a sense of appreciation and gratitude for those who serve our nation and their families. From the military and the civilians who work tirelessly to advance America’s interests overseas to the police, firefighters — all the way to the teachers who teach our children. We need a new spirit that values service to our nation and community in all forms, and also where necessity unites around the need for shared sacrifice. We have a chance to get back to that basic moment of us all being bigger than the sum of our parts as Americans now.