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The Day of Reckoning Arrives

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

They got him. Put a couple of slugs in his face. Then they dumped his body in the sea -- something for the fish, which don't much care what they eat, to feed on.

No matter how you look at it, this was a masterful stroke by a group of Navy Seals who went about their business with great skill and steely nerves. Naturally, great credit went to the president who stuck with an operation that was set in motion by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

We're told that President Obama not only approved the strike, but actually watched it unfold. As one of his predecessors would have said, "Bully for him."

One hopes that the al-Qaida thugs have learned an important lesson from the death of their leader: that it doesn't pay to fool around with Uncle Sam. He has a long memory and a strong sense of resolve. That should ensure that any thoughts of some kind of murderous retaliation for the death of Osama bin Laden will be met both surely and swiftly.

One has to stand in awe in the face of an operation carried out with both great courage and professionalism. It should be a clear warning to our enemies that it's neither nice, nor wise, to fool with Uncle Sam. He may be slow to act, sometimes, but he will act -- and act decisively -- even under a president not widely known for decisiveness in such matters.

I have no idea of what the aftermath of this affair will be. Al-Qaida is threatening some kind of vengeance for the execution -- and that's what it was -- of their leader. They will learn that any such retaliation will be handled exactly as was the killing of bin Laden.

Terrorism, as a weapon, seldom produces anything but seething anger among its victims -- anger and a determination to deal harshly and swiftly with the terrorists. It is, therefore, inevitably self-defeating.

To the certifiably insane thugs who make up al-Qaida's terrorist strike forces and who kill with total disregard of the innocence of their victims, terror is their sole weapon. Without it they are defenseless.

Should these murderers seek vengeance for the defeat of bin Laden, however, they will only hasten their own certain demise.

That, of course, will probably not deter them. We can probably expect to be the victims of their desire for payback -- what the spooks at Langley call "blowback."

All of this comes out of a divergence of world views. Here in the West we try to live and let live. Believe what you must; we'll defend your right to your beliefs as long as they threaten no one.

That's heresy to the fanatics who worship at the altar of violence, who insist that their warped view of the world, and the role that one's religion plays in it, demands violence against its non-believers.

Once upon a time, failure to get in step with the prevailing religious views of the moment could get you burned at the stake, as St. Joan of Arc learned the hard way.

The al-Qaida bunch still adheres to that peculiar form of religiosity. Do it their way, or die. It has yet to be demonstrated to them that the overwhelming majority of the world's people reject that proposition. They have not understood that they cannot enforce their beliefs by killing those who reject them. There are simply too many of us, and too few of them.

Their late leader never understood that fact. Like all fanatics, he thought that violence in defense of their beliefs would eventually win the day. He learned the fallacy of that conviction the hard way, with a couple of slugs made in the USA in his fevered brain.

This war is not over. There are still rounds to go in this battle against the proponents of violence as a means of enforcing an extreme form of religious intolerance. But as this most recent development in that battle proves, violence is the losing side.

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