It’s been 10 years since former al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden was killed in a raid in Pakistan by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs and Obama is still taking credit for it.
When Osama bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011, crowds gathered at the White House with American flags, chanting “U-S-A!” to celebrate the successful Navy SEAL raid that killed the leader of al Qaeda and mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Ten years later, America and the threats it faces are fundamentally different. Some of the greatest dangers to the country, such as cyber security attacks from China or election interference from Russia, don’t have a face and a name that people see every night on the evening news, analysts say. And with a country that’s more divided than ever, it can be difficult to get Americans of different backgrounds to agree on who the enemy even is.
Because of this, analysts predict, it’s unlikely America will pursue another foreign policy goal that the entire nation can get behind, that, like the capture of bin Laden, unites the country and sends people flooding into the streets.
“We don’t have a single boogeyman in the way that bin Laden really became this FBI most wanted figure,” said Jenna Ben-Yehuda, a former State Department official who is president of the Truman National Security Project. “It becomes harder to unify around a single threat, because the nature of the threat has changed and is more diffuse. We have this low-level warfare really playing out through disinformation and persistent hacking that just doesn’t look like kinetic action in war as we know it.”
The U.S. effort to find and kill bin Laden was clear cut in a way foreign policy today is not. The government calls China its biggest threat, and while both political parties agree, Democrats and Republicans often feud about which party is the most anti-China while asserting nobody wants direct conflict. The same can be said for Russia, about which politicians have “wildly different” views,” and North Korea, said Mick Mulroy, a former paramilitary operations officer at the CIA who became the deputy assistant defense secretary for the Middle East in the Trump administration.
“On North Korea, are they a friend we have summits with, or our biggest threat?” said Mulroy, who is an ABC national security analyst and non-resident senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.
“Every other element seems like it’s got political aspects to it,” continued Mulroy, who is apolitical. “Bin Laden attacked the United States, and it was very definitive too. He did it. We killed him.”