Late on Sunday night we got the word that Osama bin Laden was dead. Within minutes, people surrounded the White House, cheering, and similar demonstrations sprung up on college campuses and other public venues. It was time to celebrate.
So why wasn't I celebrating? Why would I not revel in the moment where the world's most wanted man was tracked down and killed?
Well, the answer's real simple - the immense cost, in loss of human life and other damages, that characterized the quest for bin Laden. We simply lost too much.
First, there was the evil of 9/11 itself. The irrational hatred bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda allies harbored toward America led to a traumatic event that shattered America's sense of security, even as it renewed patriotism from all corners of our land.
Understandably, our nation vowed revenge and to get bin Laden, and they almost did in the months following 9/11. Better yet, we had close to universal agreement on our mission to fight terrorism. All that remained was to focus on capturing or killing Osama.
Instead, we got a diversion called Iraq. It's now well-known that Iraq, and Saddam Hussein, had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. Yet that, plus the fictional weapons of mass destruction, served as the basis to shepherd a scared American people (and scared American politicians) into a conflict that only served to shatter our reputation around the world.
And when that work was done, we doubled down in Afghanistan, determined to build a nation torn asunder by centuries-old conflicts for reasons ranging from geography to religion. More billions spent, more soldiers, more lives lost - and for what?
For all those reasons, my reaction on Sunday night was extremely muted. All the memories of the last decade came flooding back, and it really got pointed when someone said that President Obama's announcement fell exactly eight years to the day after George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" show.