The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of the U.S. military is not, as some would have it, the end of the war on terror—a phrase that has fallen out of fashion since Barack Obama entered the White House.
For some, his death is a measure of justice. For others, especially those who lost friends and family in the Al Qaeda strikes against Washington, D.C. and New York City, it provides some much needed closure.
I will admit to being a bit disturbed by the blood lust that was evident in the spontaneous demonstration that erupted outside the White House once the news broke late Sunday night. It is understandable, but nonetheless disquieting to see the joyfulness that was so much in evidence, especially among those who were barely children when the attacks on the United States occurred a decade ago.
It is important to remember that, even without bin Laden to lead it, Al Qaeda will continue. Which means the war against the United States will continue. This long struggle has not been about one man vs. another; it has been about ideas, about faith, and, most of all, about freedom. Those who have elected to be combatants on the side of the forces of darkness that Al Qaeda represents will likely now seek to avenge the death of their leader rather than go gently into the night. [See photos of reactions to Osama bin Laden's death.]
I mention this not to suggest that bin Laden did not deserve his fate so much as to remind everyone that the struggle is far from over. Terror is real and is not the product of the effort of one man alone. The contest between freedom and tyranny is real, and cannot be won because one man passes from the scene. There will always be another tyrant to take his or her place.