When Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States in the 1990s, he argued that if terrorists hit hard enough, the United States would retreat. The relentless pursuit that led to bin Ladens death Sunday proved that narrative of American weakness was wrong. Americas difficulties in the Islamic world since Sept 11, 2001, have come, if anything, from misplaced response or over-reaction to Al-Qaedas attacks. But the idea that the US would run away - an analysis that bin Laden based on Americas flight from Beirut after 1983 bombings and from Somalia in 1994 after bloody attacks on US troops there - was convincingly refuted. Even after catastrophic mistakes in Iraq, President George W. Bush pressed on to sustain the American narrative of persistence in battle. We will be relentless in the defence of our citizens, said President Obama in announcing bin Ladens death from the White House, just before midnight. Justice has been done. They were statements that might have been in a classic Western movie about pursuit and retribution. Obama Sunday night barely drew back the curtain slightly on the operation that led to the Al-Qaeda leaders death. He said it began eight months ago, when he was briefed on a possible lead. Over subsequent months, US intelligence learned that bin Laden might be hiding in a compound in Pakistan. Last week Obama authorized a strike by US Special Forces on a mansion in the town of Abbottabad. The fact that Pakistan didnt stop the helicopter raid delivers another message. Critics of the CIA have argued that the agencys operations against bin Laden over this past decade were fatally compromised by its combination of unilateral operations and cooperation with Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. Al-Qaeda had lost its momentum long before the death of its leader. It burned too hot; it made enemies everywhere it gained a measure of power - in Iraq, in Afghanistan, even in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The Islamic world increasingly turned away - not from Salafist of the sort that Al-Qaeda practices, but from the terrorist tactics that ended up killing far more Muslims around the world than Americans. Washington Post