Great historic events are rare and leaders who are gifted to be a part of these must ensure that they are permanently imprinted in the greatness of the moment. US President Barack Obama was posing for history when he announced to the American nation and to the world late evening of May 1st in Washington D.C. that a US operation had killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and took custody of his body.
Well crafted and spoken in a cadence that enhanced the impact of the event, these were the high points of Obama’s announcement:
He clearly established who earns the credit
“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children,” Obama said.
He added: “Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
“Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
He reminded everybody how much 9/11 had affected them
Obama recalled how it “was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory - hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.”
He added: “For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.”
He shared the credit, made many people feel heroic
He said: “On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.”
He limited the number of their enemies
He said: “As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam.” He added: “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”
He justified the War on Terror, a US geopolitical cover
He said: “The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens.” He added: “Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.”
He egged Americans to be greater still
He said: “The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.”
The Barack Obama announcement left nothing to chance in affixing his image on the historic moment. Complete with subject and predicate, it ensured Obama’s place in history but will it be enough to have him re-elected?
A Gallup poll conducted after the announcement of bin Laden’s death gave Obama a 52 percent approval rating — up six points but ten points lower than when he entered the White House. Can the historic moment offset the economic issues of the 2012 US presidential elections?
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