by Hugh Downs

Osama Bin Laden, it has been pointed out, should be a very happy man. He has now gotten almost everything he wanted:

After 9/11, his concern was staying alive, because an angry United States, with the sympathy of the world, started out after him. What he wanted was to escape this danger...

President Bush arranged that for him when he abandoned the manhunt and turned from Afghanistan to Iraq.

Osama wanted to get his relatives safely out of the United States as soon as possible after the attack. The administration did that for him.

Osama wanted to be free of the manhunt, and in some comfortable and secure location.

This he now enjoys.

Osama wanted Iraq and every other country within reach to have an Islamic government. He hated Saddam Hussein, who was a secular dictator. He wanted Saddam overthrown. President Bush did that for him.

Osama had trouble, even with all his money, recruiting suicide bombers and active terrorists, and needed an increase in their numbers. That has now been accomplished for his cause, since the American presence in Iraq has inflamed the Islamic world and been of real help in the insurgency recruiting efforts, all without effort on the part of Osama Bin Laden.

Osama hopes that America will bankrupt itself, militarily and financially in a fruitless war in Iraq, and that it will settle for less than a democracy.

What he would like is for Iraq to come under Islamic rule. I'm sure he is watching with interest as our exit strategy appears increasingly to be evolving into one willing to give up a pure democracy, a government with equal rights for women and peaceful cooperation among the disparate groups making up the country. It seems now, facing the necessity of winding down the war, the administration is likely to accept what will surely be an Islamic Republic, with women finding fewer freedoms than they had under Saddam.

Osama, if he is capable of feeling gratitude, must surely feel it for the Bush administration.

One commentator has said Osama would sense Christmas is coming if he were a Christian. Everything he has wanted is being handed to him.