He may have eluded justice and the long reach of the world’s most powerful military force; his followers may (and probably will) strike again at some point in the future, near or distant; but history’s verdict on Osama bin Laden has been in for some time, now: Al-Qaeda failed.
The 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington — like those that preceded it in East Africa in 1998 and those that followed in London, Madrid, Bali and other places — were tactical successes, in that they managed to kill hundreds of innocents, grab the world’s headlines and briefly dominate the nightmares of Western policy makers. But the strategy of which those attacks formed part has proven to be fundamentally flawed. Terrorism departs from the rules of war by deliberately targeting the innocent, but it shares the basic motive force of conventional warfare — “the pursuit of politics by other means, ” as Clausewitz wrote. (Time)