Americans are in a very celebratory mood. I don't think I've seen a Facebook status in the last three hours that didn't mention or reference Osama bin Laden's death. On the East Coast, it's around 2:00 am, but hundreds of people are celebrating in front of the White House and Time Square. Tomorrow, New York will probably look like it did on V-J Day 1945. The World War II comparisons are inevitable, especially since the deaths of both Hitler and Osama were announced on May 1. Myriad pundits, politicians, and normal people will compare the death of Osama to the death of Hitler, VE-Day, or VJ-Day.
Hitler's death was nothing like Osama's. Hilter WAS Nazi Germany. He was an uncrowned absolute monarch who created and was integral to Nazi Germany. Without him, it could not exist. When Hitler committed suicide, he did so because his soldiers were fighting the enemy blocks away from his Bunker. His suicide did not end the war, he committed suicide because the war was over.
But in the War on Terror, the US is not fighting a totalitarian nation-state. It is fighting assorted violent non-state actors. Killing the leader of one of them won't cause the others to capitulate. It's also worth noting that al-Qaeda itself is decentralized. Al-Qaeda in Iraq, for example, is not run by Osama. They will continue fighting. They continued fighting when their own leader was killed in 2006. There's also the fact that Islamists have a fetish for martyrdom. Since 2002, Osama didn't really do much except release propaganda videos from time to time while on the lam. As a shahid his death will serve as propaganda for future generations of Islamists.
Killing Osama bin Laden won't end the War on Terrorism. The only thing that can end the War on Terrorism is an end to the American Empire and its foreign adventures. As long as we meddle in the Middle East and elsewhere, there are going to be people who are upset enough to turn to violence. Until the root causes are addressed, new Osamas and Zarqawis will continue to sprout like weeds.
America didn't slay the hydra, she just cut off one of its heads.