Advancing a Free Society

Q&A with Thomas Henriksen on the killing of Osama bin Laden

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Thomas Henriksen, a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, spoke with the Stanford News Service about the killing of Osama bin Laden, its impact on America's war on terror and the repercussions on the relationships among the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Henriksen specializes in the U.S. diplomatic and military courses of action toward terrorist havens and so-called rogue states.

How big of a blow is Osama bin Laden's death to al-Qaida and other terrorist networks?

Many people are saying it's simply psychological or symbolic, but it's greater than that. It will make other terrorists more wary. They know we've been successful against a very elusive target. As a consequence, it will hamper their operations. It will make them hunker down and become less effective because they know they can't operate as openly. This won't put an end to terrorism, but America now looks stronger and more effective in fighting it. This has been a new kind of war for Americans.  We were brought up fighting conventional wars, and suddenly we had to deal with very small networks that are almost impossible to penetrate. We've made some mistakes, and the CIA has been blamed for shortfalls. It takes a long time to learn to confront a different kind of enemy, but we have gotten better at it.

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