Barack Obama launched the operation to eliminate Osama bin Laden by uttering the codeword “Geronimo”. In doing so, he also fired off a salvo in the battle against the Republicans, who have accused him of being weak on national security issues since his election.
Obama is addressing the status quo he inherited from the era of George W Bush. A new secretary of defence and head of the CIA were appointed just a few days ago. The belief is that Leon Panetta and David Petraeus were brought in not just to foster better coordination between the military and the spies but also to reduce the defence budget.
As the United States prepares to leave Afghanistan next year, the success of the operation against bin Laden will allow Obama to turn the page on the aggressive and unpopular chapter of the so-called ‘War on Terror’.
“I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. We are reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper then politics. It is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face,” said Obama.
But the political benefit from the death of bin Laden may be fleeting. Since the Democrats defeat in last year’s mid-term elections, it is the Republicans who control the decision-making in the US Congress.
Next year’s presidential election will hinge on the economy, above all on jobs and the cost of basic goods.
Almost 80 percent of Americans welcome the news of Bin Laden’s death. But will they still be in the mood to party in the run-up to the election in 2012?
Riding the wave of popular approval, Obama is due to join the relatives of those killed at Ground Zero on Thursday.
April’s unemployment figures are out on Friday.