By Maegan Clearwood, Lindsay Haislip, and Natalie Butz
News Editors and Copy Editor
This year’s May Day celebrations were unexpectedly patriotic.
Around 11:30 p.m. on May 1, President Barack Obama announced the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Students flooded onto the green at midnight to celebrate the news, waving flags, singing patriotic songs, and even playing the bagpipe.
Senior Krystin Jansen was one of the students on the green that evening.
“While the celebrations on the green were no doubt heightened by the death of Osama, I believe most people were simply enjoying the festivities of May Day, which was the only reason I was there. However, on hearing that Osama Bin Laden had been killed I noticed how quickly the country seemed to rally together,” Jansen said.
This spike in patriotism seems to have inspired Washington College students as well.
“The death of Osama bin Laden made me feel overwhelmingly proud to be an American,” said sophomore Jessica Klein. “I sensed a greater unity within our country that night and viewed his death as an accomplishment for our nation. My hope is that Osama bin Laden’s death has brought justice for all of his victims and that we can continue to overcome the many challenges that face our country.”
Patrol officer James W. Shaw, a former member of the Marine Corps the Army National Guard, is also enthused.
“I first heard the news while waiting for the May Day activities to take place. I feel it’s a very exciting part of all the military has been doing since Sept. 11,” he said. “What bothers me is all those that did not even support the actions of this war are now the ones acting like they played a vital role in all of this. The credit should stay with the U.S. military, not President Obama.”
Not all students, however, are as inspired by the news.
“I think that his death may have been a way to bring the country together, but I cannot really approve of having joy over the death of someone else, no matter what they may have done. Retribution never really solves anything,” said senior Emmy Landskroener.
Many are wary about what the long-term repercussions of the news may bring. WC President Mitchell Reiss validated the concerns about al-Qaeda’s possible responses.
“I think initially we need to understand that there may be a backlash,” Reiss said. “Longer term, it’s not clear that this will degrade al-Qaeda full-stop. It’s unclear whether Osama was still directing operations or even developing strategy, or whether he was simply a figure head, so it could be that aside from the symbolism and emotional satisfaction, we’ll have to see if there was any more significant impact on al-Qaeda or the war on terror in general.”
Shaw also has concerns about what the future may hold.
“I still worry that now everyone will cry, ‘Bring our troops home,’” Shaw said. “We have to remember not to let our guard down too early. There is always another one just around the corner.”
Associate Chief Information Officer Cal Coursey, who also served in the military, said, “The death of Osama bin Laden brought an initial feeling of relief and, I suppose, a sense that a very dangerous person had come to a well-deserved end. I wish that he could have been taken alive, but I don’t believe that he would have given up much information. It remains to be seen how the remainder of al-Qaeda will respond.”
As far as the political ramifications of Osama’s death, this could certainly have an impact on the war in Afghanistan, U.S. Pakistan relations, and U.S. foreign policy. Political science professor Dr. Melissa Deckman said, “I think the war in Iraq is dying down; we’re pulling troops out and I think that we have been putting more forces in Afghanistan. I think it’s more important in the sense that bin Laden for many years was located in Afghanistan. So I think if anything this might put more pressure on the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan,” she said.
Based on the fact that Osama bin Laden has been living in Pakistan for an extended period of time, the U.S. has the right to question what Pakistan knew and what information it withheld.
“I think this really has the potential to develop a rift between the United States and Pakistan, because it’s become clear with media assessment that’s been coming out that the Pakistani government was not informed about this raid, which suggests that there are some serious trust issues between the U.S. and the Pakistanis. I think that the U.S. is probably rightfully angry and questioning just how much the Pakistani government knew,” Deckman said.
While this was a very successful mission for the U.S., safety is not a guarantee. “I do think that it’s an important victory for the U.S., but al-Qaeda still exists and I think that threats from terrorism still exist,” she said.
As far as how this has affected Obama’s overall ap proval rating, this is certainly an accomplishment for the president that will help him in the short run. Come Nov. 2012, however, it may not have an affect on the decisions that voters make at the polls.
“Americans have notoriously short memories,” Deckman said. “I think that he’s gotten a boost in the overall ratings, but I think by Nov. 2012, people are going to be looking at the economy. People tend to vote their pocket books.”
May 6, 2011
Volume LXXXI Issue 25