There is a silly debate taking place in Washington about who deserves credit for Osama bin Laden's assassination - President Obama or President Bush.
John F. Kennedy once said that victory has a thousand fathers, so can we admit that lots of people - thousands beyond those two people - deserve credit?
The outcome is the culmination of years of intelligence and action, but this specific operation was obviously conceived, planned and executed by the Obama administration, which deserves genuine respect for handling it well.
But the real lesson that we should be drawing from it is that counterterrorism works. Counterterrorism is our most important and effective strategy in the war on terror.
There was a debate at the start of the Obama administration over policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some, like Vice President Biden, wanted a limited counterterrorism operation with fewer troops.
Others wanted a broader counterinsurgency campaign that involved all kinds of things that we would generally call nation building. The counterterrorism advocates lost. General Petraeus won. But the counterterrorism guys were right.
And this is something we can credit Obama with: Despite his choice, he focused much more relentlessly on the counterterrorism part of the strategy in Pakistan. He dramatically increased the number of drone attacks, for example, and that's just one metric.
There also has been a massive expansion of other counterterrorism efforts, including intelligence gathering and live operations. The killing of Osama Bin Laden is the fruit of that much larger investment in special operations and counterterrorism.
President Bush, of course, did support special operations, but the bulk of his time, energy and attention got devoted to a much larger nation-building project in Iraq. Bush believed that a functioning democracy in Iraq would sap the ideological strength of al Qaeda's message.
The theory was right. Look at how the Arab revolutions have put al Qaeda on the defensive, as it has become clear that people in the region want jobs and freedom, not jihad and caliphates. But the trouble is nation building is a much larger, more expensive and inherently more difficult mission for an outside power like America.
America gets seen as wanting to dominate other countries, imposing its will and being imperialistic. It is easy to excite nationalist opposition against the 800-pound superpower.
Counterterrorism, by contrast, is something we can do well. It requires good intelligence, of course, but also superb military work - and that is something the American military shines at.
The killing of Bin Laden shows that there is a very powerful way for the United States to fight terrorist organizations - through vigorous special ops.
We do not need to occupy vast tracts of Afghanistan for decades to keep al Qaeda at bay.
We can keep the terrorists on the run, decapitate their leadership, pursue their planners, track their money and foil their plots. It's hard; but it's not nearly as hard as turning Afghanistan into a functioning, modern, capitalist democracy.