The raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is a great symbolic victory for the United States and its allies. His death also raises a myriad of new questions. For this week's question, National Journal asks the experts to weigh in on any, or all, of the following topics:
What does it mean for al-Qaida?
Bin Laden may have been the leader of al-Qaida, but what does his death really mean for the terrorist network? Many intelligence experts believe that bin Laden had not been in direct control of al-Qaida's operations for some time, and in recent years, the terrorist network has become a far less centralized movement. It has relied on freelance radicals who have become adept at using the Internet; meanwhile, anti-U.S. sentiment continues to grow in Pakistan. How significant was bin Laden's role in recent years? In a statement this week, al-Qaida's "general leadership" has called for retaliatory attacks on the U.S.
How will it affect the "war on terror"?
Now that bin Laden is dead, has his dream of endless legions of jihadists waging a constant holy war against the West died with him? Let's not forget the pro-democracy demonstrations and political shake-ups across the region--some would argue that the "Arab Spring" offers an opposing and far more popular model for the empowerment of Arabs and Muslims. What do you think? Is the "war on terror" as we know it winding down?
What will be the effect on the war in Afghanistan?
Some lawmakers are taking bin Laden's death as a sign that the U.S. has accomplished its mission and should begin scaling back the increasingly unpopular conflict. What does the al-Qaida leader's demise mean for the war in Afghanistan? How will it affect public support for the war? Should it influence the size and scope of U.S. troop withdrawals that are scheduled to begin in July?
How will the raid impact U.S.-Pakistan relations?
The raid was conducted without the knowledge of Pakistani authorities. In his first public reaction since the killing, Pakistan's military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, demanded that Washington withdraw many of the U.S. military personnel now stationed inside Pakistan. He also warned that any future forays into the country would prompt a far-reaching reevaluation of Islamabad's ties with Washington. Kayani later added that he would order Pakistani forces to engage any U.S. troops who enter the country in pursuit of other wanted militants. The Pentagon, for its part, said it has not yet been notified of any official decisions to reduce the size of the U.S. military presence in Pakistan. Where do you see the already-strained relationship going? Is it possible that the Pakistanis did not know where bin Laden was hiding, or were some official elements harboring the world's most wanted man?
Was killing bin Laden better than capturing him? Who is ultimately responsible for the success of the operation--President Obama or his predecessor, George W. Bush? How well do you think the administration conducted the raid? What should it have done differently?