Back in May, when Osama bin Laden was sent to a watery grave after being subdued and killed by a team of Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, members of al-Qaeda promised Americans that “their joy will turn to sorrow and their tears will mix with blood.”
That promise of revenge, to some degree, may have been fulfilled when 30 U.S. military personnel were killed Saturday in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. Among the fatalities in the downed helicopter were 22 Navy SEALs and seven Afghan soldiers.
At first it was unclear whether the Chinook helicopter accidentally crashed or if it was shot down. It was confirmed a few days ago that it was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. However, Taliban claimed responsibility for the hit, not al-Qaeda.
Even so, they are probably exalted by the tragedy, especially since some of the SEALs killed belonged to the same unit that took out bin Laden.
Once again, the war in Afghanistan, now the longest foreign war in U.S. history, has become the deadliest in nearly a decade of fighting.
On Monday, President Barack Obama honored the fallen men. “These men and women put their lives on the line for the values that bind us together as a nation,” he said, departing momentarily from his briefing about the nation’s credit crash. “We will press on and we will succeed.”
Moreover, he said, it is a time for the nation to reflect on those “we lost and the sacrifices of all who serve, as well as their families…They come from different places, and their backgrounds and beliefs reflect the rich diversity of America.”
“But no matter what differences they might have as individuals,” he continued, “they serve this nation as a team. They meet their responsibilities together, and some of them, like the 30 Americans who were lost this weekend, give their lives for their country. Our responsibility is to ensure that their legacy is an America that reflects their courage, their commitment and their sense of common purpose.”
Readers interested in knowing the details of the raid that killed bin Laden should consult last week’s edition of the New Yorker and read Nicholas Schmidle’s article–or you can wait until Kathryn Bigelow’s film arrives next October.