Hiram College

The death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan Sunday has many implications for American foreign and domestic policies, according to Jason Johnson, Scholar in Residence at Hiram College, and a expert on foreign and domestic politics.

“Certainly for the millennials, those people of student age now, it is significant closure for their generation,” Johnson said. “They have lived half their lives in social, cultural and political uncertainty. For them, to capture and kill this person who has been responsible for thousands of deaths and political instability is important. For the rest of us, it is clear that it is important, but unclear how important.”

He noted that bin Laden’s importance in world terrorism has been eroded by the decentralization of his Al Qaeda network, and internal squabbling among terrorist factions, and there is doubt in intelligence circles as to how much power he actually has wielded recently.

In American politics and foreign policy, however, bin Laden’s death has other effects, which will play out in coming days and months. He said for the American public, the death gives pause for people to ask why why two other American presidential administrations could not capture or kill bin Laden in the ten years since September 11th, 2001, when the bin Laden-orchestrated attacks on the World Trade Center occurred.

“While it is a time that some may celebrate, it also raises questions about what the two wars (in which America has become involved) mean, and how they have been prosecuted,” Johnson said. “And if this significant event will cause changes in policy abroad.”

The most significant effects of bin Laden’s death, however, may be on domestic American politics, Johnson continued. He said President Obama will be able to use the event to demonstrate claim fulfillment of a 2008 campaign promise, to prove to critics that he is skilled at foreign policy, and to blunt criticism by his would-be opponents in the 2012 Presidential campaign.

“It takes about 40 percent of what (former House speaker Newt) Gingerich, and (former Massachusetts Governor Mitt) Romney, and the other Republicans have to argue about and criticize him (Obama) about off the table,” Johnson said. “The president might be able to claim that bin Laden’s death proves he is strong on foreign policy, that he made good on his campaign promise that he would go anywhere  to get him, even through a sovereign country’s air space, without regard to the political ramifications. The president might also point to the fact that he managed to act on the credible intelligence, while also dealing with the economy, health care and all the other problems the nation faces.”

Johnson said he would not be too quick to read much into any polls or surveys of public opinion very soon, because their results will be skewed. It is too early to tell how the events of Sunday will effect domestic or foreign policies or opinion.

“Public opinion will be euphoric for some time,” he said. “It will depend on what happens from now on going forward how it will be seen.”

Professor Jason Johnson is a frequently quoted guest and political commentator: in print, television, radio and online.

Commentary: Obama got Osama: 5 Things We Learned From Last Night’s Announcement
Johnson’s commentary on Osama bin Laden’s death and capture; appeared on his website, www.drjasonjohnson.com.

Commentary: Obama got Osama: Now What?
Johnson’s commentary on Osama bin Laden’s death and capture; appeared in The Source, the leading international publication for the ever-evolving world of Hip-Hop music, culture and politics.

Obama to face hungry press corps
Johnson is quoted in an article on “The Hill” website, a Washington D.C. publication covering Congress, about his thoughts on the 2010 midterm election.

WKBN: Jason Johnson Discusses ‘At the Center of the Storm’
Johnson discusses “At the Center of the Storm” by George Tenent on Youngstown CBS channel 2
7; from May 2007.

For more information, please visit Jason Johnson’s personal and Hiram websites.