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Americans have celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden. Now we’re debating how quickly to leave Afghanistan. But is there a chance bin Laden is still going to get what he wanted all along?
A week or so ago, I picked up a biography (“Osama bin Laden”) written before his death by Michael Scheuer, the oft-quoted former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit. I don’t agree with Scheuer’s viewpoint on a lot of things, but he raises a powerful point.
Bin Laden’s real goal in the 9/11 attacks, he writes, was to lure the United States into a unwinnable war in Afghanistan – one that would alienate us from the Muslim world, divide us internally and, most important, do to America what war in Afghanistan did to the Soviet Union: cause it to collapse economically.
So here we are 10 years later: two (or three wars) started and not finished, thousands of lives lost, trillions of dollars spent, bitterly divided politically, paranoid about immigrants and Muslims, in an uproar over the loss of our civil liberties (not to mention our physical privacy when we fly on an airplane) and, worst of all, in the worst economic shape in decades.
Bin Laden may be in Hell, but he may also be laughing at us.


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