SF State veterans respond to death of Osama bin Laden

Kadie Ann Williams was in the library studying late when she heard Osama bin Laden had been killed. When she arrived home, she was too afraid to sleep.

Williams, microbiology major, was deployed to the Persian Gulf for a total of 15 months during her service in the Navy.

“I kept thinking, ‘It’s just going to get worse,’” she said of her reaction upon hearing of bin Laden’s death.

For student veterans, bin Laden’s death may have been symbolic of the end of suffering for many, but it will not change the war.

Bin Laden was killed Sunday after a U.S. raid on a complex where he was hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

“It’s like the ‘Wizard of Oz’ when Dorothy dropped the house,’” said Tara Smith, who is pursuing her master’s in creative writing. “Everyone’s celebrating, but they forget that there’s another villain out there.”

Smith, who was deployed to Iraq for a year, joined the Army shortly after the 9/11 attacks under the impression that she was going to help the country defeat terrorism.

“I was naïve when I joined, even though I was 21,” she said. “I thought it was as simple as, ‘we got attacked, now we’re going to get the bad guys,’ but it’s not that simple. It was never that simple.”

Though student veterans fear the worsening of the war, assistant professor of international relations Mahmood Monshipuri said this could be a step in the right direction for America’s War on Terror.

“The only way you can counteract terrorism is when you take the disgruntled people and give them hope,” Monshipuri said.

Miguel Vargas, a kinesiology major, believes the success of the mission was significant to the American people because of what bin Laden represented, but repercussions could ensue because of what he symbolized to al-Qaeda.

“There’s no real central man,” Vargas said. “What we need to worry about is the second guy in line because no one’s gonna say: ‘He’s dead, let’s all stop doing bad stuff. We’re not just fighting people, we’re fighting an ideology.”

Vargas, who is in the Army reserves and was deployed to Iraq for 15 months, was on duty at a military base when he heard of bin Laden’s death.

“I had no idea what was going on,” he said. “All I knew was that our threat level went up and that we had to check around the base.”

Despite the doubts, bin Laden’s death is still an undeniable victory for the U.S., according to international relations professor David Fischer.

“The U.S. demonstrated that it is able to carry out a superb military operation,” he said. “It restores America’s image of itself.”

Shea Caspersen, international relations major and president of Our Veterans Club at SF State, said that he and other members of the club believe that the war will grow, but there is still a reason to rejoice.

“It’s definitely a blood feud,” he said. “If anything, it’s at least a symbolic victory. The mission has changed a lot, but the initial message is still there. His death symbolizes some sort of justice for an act that killed 3,000 Americans, so there’s still some sort of cause for celebration.”

Many veterans would like to see troops in the Middle East return home, as they do not see how the war could be resolved at this point.

“I don’t think this is going to end,” said Williams. “I’m just waiting for what’s going to happen next because it is going to get 10 times bigger than it is now.”

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  • Williams is right. It is not going to end. The American people need to realize the truth that the real enemy is not in the distant sands of some far off land, but the realize that we have real enemies right here at home. The ones that helped instill fear in the American people to cause us in this bloody war of aggression. Without declaration by congress, against the constitution, and using the arrogance of the American people as fuel.

    Was 5,000 American soldiers and the bloodshed of many more innocent civillians worth the death of one man? If anything, Osama Bin Laden accomplished his goal. He got us to his soil, destroyed our economy, instilled fear and hatred into us, stole our freedoms, and got to die on his turf. If it were really about freedom, Sweden and Canada would be toast by now.

    It is good that he is dead. We deserved justice for the deaths that he has caused. But that was no reason to go to war and risk the lives of the people who serve in our military and engage in reckless nation building. I think it is important that we understand under the political spectrum what is going on here. The reason we are hated in the middle east is NOT because we’re free and prosperous. It is because we are over in the middle east trying to dictate the people and control their lives, when it is obvious that they do not want us there.

    I spoke to an ex-military student a few weeks ago. He told me about his time in Iraq before Operation Iraqi Freedom. The first thing his troop did when boots hit the ground is they secured the oil refineries. They didn’t make it to Baghdad for weeks. The oil refinery was the primary objective. And the people in the middle east know this.

    The biggest part about the death of Osama Bin Laden is it really hasn’t changed anything. The day went on, like any other day. We all went to class, ate at the Gold Coast Salad Bar, and went on with our day. Yet we’ve lost so much to accomplish this. And in truth, I don’t think many people really care. Because really, it’s not so important anymore. We’ve already gone back to our focus on iPhones and Angry Birds.

    Terrorism is a threat, it will always be a threat. But it is an idea. We can’t destroy every idea, we can just aim to prevent it. I think our borders would be more secure if our military men and women were back home protecting our borders, rather than over there protecting countries that don’t want us there.