Kilroy Was Here: A Silent Response To Osama's Death.

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As a young chap growing up in northwestern Pennsylvania, I remember how we often got into scraps with other male rivals.   Quarrels were sometimes settled at the school flag pole but for those who were concerned about avoiding the wrath of the principal, they settled their differences with fisticuffs on the weekends away from school property.  The victor of such a contest would often return to school on Monday morning boasting of his participation in such a contest.  His boasting only served to bring contempt from his peers.  The one who returned bearing battle scars but who refused to discuss the event would invariably be admired by friend and foe alike.

In those days there was great admiration and respect for the silent warrior.  We live in a different culture now.  Professional athletes puff out their chests and beat on their pects like savage gorillas after making a great play.  A touchdown is always followed by some sort of “Look at how great I am” display in the end zone.  Pride rules the day and humility is a lost virtue.  Frankly, I admire the player who drops the ball in the end zone and walks off the field demonstrating a different attitude, “What I just did is what others expect me to do.  It’s what I get paid to do.  The cooperative effort of the other ten men on this team enabled me to do this.”

Our Navy Seal Team 6 just accomplished an amazing mission by outing Osama bin Laden.  The differing attitudes displayed by our military and our politicians are astounding.  The military warriors responsible for the victory may never be known.  They are okay with that.  “It’s what we do.  It’s what we are expected to do.”  But our politicians mount their steeds and ride around the country beating their chests as if they deserve full credit for this great feat.  All the pomp and posturing is quite disgusting.  Hungering and maneuvering for a spotlight that should belong to another is juvenile and deplorable.

There is a great World War II mystery about someone named Kilroy.  He is an elusive figure.  His name was plastered everywhere from U.S. warships cruising in the Pacific Ocean to lonely oak trees in the forests of Germany.  “Kilroy was here”.  The haunting omnipresence of Kilroy offered comfort to our own soldiers and a state of paranoia to our enemies. 

When Americans were informed of the assassination of Osama bin Laden were we not give too much information?  Why do we have to know that stealth helicopters were used?  Why do we have to know the details of the operation, where Osama was shot, that his body was cleaned and dumped in the sea?  Why do we have to know the location of his hideout and the squalor he lived in?  Is it wise to tell the world that we have confiscated videos and computers from his home?  All the information shared with us was also shared with our enemy.

What if President Obama had simply made a very brief, direct statement:  “A special ops team has successfully killed Osama bin Laden.  We would like to congratulate them for their bravery and their skill and for making our world a safer place.  Thank you”.

Why not fight terrorism with terrorism?  The quiet warrior who came back from the weekend scraps was much more respected and feared than the braggadocios one.  Limiting the knowledge we share with the enemy increases their fear and uncertainty.  The enemy does not need to now how we conducted the operation, they don’t need to know the procedures that were used   to obtain  information  from the prisoners we had  captured and  they don’t need to know we are now gleaning information from Osama’s computers.

Rather than use the victory of a team of brave military personnel for our own political benefit, would it not be wiser to take the high road of silence?   We could have inflicted  greater  frustration on our enemies and demanded a deeper  respect had we answered them with silence?   Would it not have been more unsettling  for them had we  told  the press that  Osama had been killed and there would be no further comment?

It’s outrageous to think that a proper, Islamic burial might appease the anger of Muslims after we put a hole in Osama’s face.  Should we not have removed the body, taken valuable information from the compound and spray-painted the wall with “Kilroy was here”?

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