Osama Bin Laden is dead, but in the midst of all the celebrations and congratulations is the bitter knowledge he could have been killed almost ten years ago and thousands of lives spared. America's leaders were more concerned with going to war in Iraq than they were with getting Bin Laden. President Obama called former President Bush to inform him of Bin Laden's death and when he hung up, the former President has to know Obama has cleaned up his mess and accomplished something Bush wasn't particularly interested in finishing.
When American forces invaded Afghanistan in 2002, they quickly chased the Taliban out and discovered bin Laden, and his second in command Dr. Zawahiri, along with Taliban leader Mullah Omar, trapped in the mountains of Tora Bora. They were hiding deep in caves from which there was no exit, but which would require a dangerous operation to go in and root them out. It would have resulted in many deaths for those in pursuit of these terrorists. Instead of using American special forces, the ones used to kill Bin Laden in Pakistan, President Bush opted to allow Afghan troops to take the lead. The result was someone was paid off, or possibly sympathetic to Bin Laden and Mullah Omar, and they were allowed to slip away over the border into Pakistan. Had Bin Laden been killed at that time, Al Qaeda would have fallen apart. Its ability to morph into a worldwide brand and to franchise its terror would have been impossible. The ability to recruit new fighters would have been far less successful. Instead, as the CIA reported in 2006 and again in 2008, Al Qaeda was stronger than ever and had reformulated itself into a more widespread operation, more decentralized with Bin Laden still at its center.
At the time of the Tora Bora operation, President Bush and his national security team had already decided to invade Iraq. Resources were already being diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq. One of the few military units which spoke Pashtun in Afghanistan was replaced by a unit which contained foreign language experts, except they were experts in speaking Spanish. Satellite and other electronic surveillance were shifted to the Iraq theater as well as large numbers of intelligence assets. The end result is the initial successes in Afghanistan were lost, Bin Laden et.al. escaped and were able to wreak havoc in Iraq for a number of years as well as in other countries. No one will ever know how many Americans and Iraqis died because Bin Laden was able to continue to operate and coordinate his terror forces.
Some would say this is all sour grapes. We should be celebrating the death of Bin Laden and to bring up the past is just partisan and has no value now. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The obsession which Bush and Cheney had with Iraq resulted in a series of decisions and actions which directly led to the fiasco which Iraq became, caused the lies and propaganda campaign which the Iraq Study Group in the White House conducted to convince the American people to support the invasion, and was the reason for the half-baked effort in Afghanistan. 100,000 American troops are in Afghanistan today, suffering unacceptable levels of casualties, because of the Bush administration abandoning the effort in Afghanistan in favor of the disaster which became Iraq. Trillions of dollars were spent unnecessarily and are still spent to clean up what Bush and company left behind.
The death of Osama Bin Laden is a day to celebrate. He wished to be a martyr and his wish has been granted. His religious fundamentalism, like all religious fundamentalism, had nothing to do with God or Allah but rather with trying to force his version on the Muslim world and he was willing to use violence to accomplish his purpose. He killed innocent people because, in his religious zealotry, no one was innocent who disagreed with him. Fundamentalism is still a grave threat in this world whether it is Islamic or Jewish or Christian. Bin Laden should have died in Tora Bora, but other fanatics, those in the White House, were too obsessed to do their job and protect this nation from a genuine threat.