Australia has the largest contingent of troops in Afghanistan outside of a NATO country, and 23 Australian soldiers have died there, The Australian noted in Tuesday's long editorial, "Bin Laden's killing a triumph for freedom."
The conservative newspaper, Rupert Murdoch's flagship here, also used the occasion to reiterate its support for the Iraq war and the removal of Saddam Hussein.
The Financial Review struck a cautionary note. "Will the US be drawn into more interventions such as that in Libya as a result of this long-sought success against al-Qaeda when the capacity of even a fully charged superpower to impose successful regime change is open to question?" the newspaper, which is modeled on the Financial Times, asked in its editorial, "Osama's removal raises big questions." The paper provided its own answer: "The world is better served by a longer-term, stronger US economy than one where continued high military costs retard economic assistance."
For the Sydney Morning Herald, the American operation underscored the importance of human intelligence.
"For all the might of America deployed in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, his end came after a tenuous intelligence operation." Unstated, but implicit, was that Osama was not brought down by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor by the torture of suspected terrorists. "Instead, the operation showed the doggedness of a lawman chasing an outlaw in a classic western," the paper said in its lengthy editorial. "Al-Qaeda loses its leader, and now for the rest."
This theme has been sounded for many months by intelligence officials in Britain: defeating terrorism will require better police work at home rather than large-scale wars abroad.
The paper was harsh in its criticism of Pakistan. "If US intelligence agencies could eventually locate bin Laden, and not, apparently, through technical intercepts but by human resources, why were their Pakistani counterparts unable to do it even sooner, unless they, or inside elements, were secretly helping him?"
Among many Australians, there appeared to be an uneasiness with the celebrations in America, which they saw on television here.
"The sounds of celebration from the US at the death of bin Laden seems founded on the most base emotions (revenge and hatred) and reminiscent of mob behaviour that we generally revile," a reader wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Paul Gyulavary, whose twin brother was killed in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, said that upon first hearing the news that bin Laden had been killed "there was a surge of joy." Then, after some reflection, he decided, "for me it's not appropriate to celebrate."