“Geronimo E-KIA”: Obama kills the lion (draft)
Things would have been different if back in April 1980 the helicopter hadn’t crashed; eight went into a desert sand storm to rescue 52 Americans held hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. One crashed and another had to turn back. Desert One was a dismal failure on the heels of Vietnam, telling the world that we, the Americans, could not do things well anymore. The helicopter wrecked in the desert became the symbol of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, but it would have been different if the rescue attempt was successful. Carter would have been a great hero and America would have been renewed because all that matters in war is whether or not the spear hits the lion. Had he been successful there would have been no “morning in America” just ahead – no need for it, no Reykjavik Summit, and probably no Ronald Reagan. So there was a moment of anxiety when the one helicopter went down on Sunday on the way to the compound at Abbottabad. But this time it was different. This time the spear hit the lion.
President Obama is elegant and stylist; even likeable in a way that presidents have not been since JFK, but that can be considered to be a weakness and belonging to the poet’s corner and there is not much room for the poet in warfare – even Hemingway was only allowed to run alongside in a jeep. But if it is accompanied by bravery and intuition it brings a champion and amplifies his abilities. On Friday by demanding that the compound which held Osama bin Laden not be bombed but taken, Obama showed himself to be both brave and intuitive. And to be a leader worthy of the company of Dam Neck, Virginia’s Navy SEALS, a group of elite warriors formed in 1980 in the wake of the failed attempt to rescue the U.S. hostages from Iran.
Because what started then ended this week, and now as Osama bin Laden sinks to the bottom of the sea’s unconsciousness, the tide can begin to recede. Obama's speech in New York will be a great one not only because he is a great speaker, but it is the speech we have been waiting for and hoping for ten years. And until now it could not have been given because, to speak plainly, America and 9/11 had not been avenged. He won’t talk about that and it would be wrong to do so and he is a better man than that, but he has already done the deed that nature demanded to be done. And it can be time now to move on and to build again with endless thanks.