Monday morning we in Asia woke to the news that US special forces, in a daring raid into the heart of Pakistan, had fought and killed Osama Bin Laden.
As an American, I felt elation, but also sorrow. Little good has come out of nearly 10 years of violence in the Middle East that followed the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
We should remember the horror of al-Qaeda's terrorism was always more than a political attack against the United States.
The 1998 twin bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed hundreds of Africans and relatively few actual Americans. Those killed on 9/11 included dozens of nationalities and people of all religions. The 2002 Bali bombings, by Bin Laden imitators, killed many Indonesians. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia murdered far more Muslim Iraqis than it ever did American soldiers.
Indeed, what made 9/11 so terrible was not just the huge number of innocent civilian casualties, but the fact that it was an attack on epicentres of global civilisation.
The resiliency of that civilisation has triumphed, but at a cost: international norms for civil and privacy rights suffered throughout the world. The US and its allies also lost considerable sympathy after attacking Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and continue to be bogged down in a grinding, violent conflict in Afghanistan, where Bin Laden's hosts, the Taliban, have not been defeated.
At a bigger strategic level, what this has meant is that the US has spent the past decade obsessed with its 'war on terror' (a foolish phrase now out of favour), entailing huge sacrifices in blood and treasure in the Middle East. This is the same decade in which China, India and other countries became the key drivers of economic growth.
In September 2001, Asia was still struggling to recover from its 1997-98 financial crisis. Today the US is mired in huge debts. Today China is pouring huge resources into infrastructure and clean technology, in a bid to support the urbanisation and the material desires of its 1.3 billion people; America has spent similar amounts of money on both military and civil efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The death of Bin Laden is not the end of the global struggle against terrorism. Indeed, for all the jubilation in America over the killing of this villain, hope for a real end to the so-called Long War is to be found in Tahrir Square. It is the Arab Spring that truly threatens the hateful ideologies of al-Qaeda and its ilk, by showing people throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world that democracy and individual freedom and respect are the true path to a better tomorrow. This sort of thinking is completely heretical to al-Qaeda.
But while the US and its friends and allies will continue to fight against the remnants of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, it is clear that Bin Laden's death marks a turning point. The US is pledged to end all military operations in Iraq by the end of this year. One must hope that the killing of Bin Laden will convince both the US and the Taliban that a political settlement has to be reached in Afghanistan. The Nato involvement in Libya remains open-ended but also modest.
This means that the US will gradually free itself to turn more of its attention to Asia, where it sees its future. To date, American re-engagement with Southeast Asia has been mostly rhetorical, notably in its declaration that freedom of the South China Sea is a core interest. American attention to the region will be welcomed by some, but presumably not by China.
If the US fails to get its finances in order, much of its ability to sway events will be blunted. Ridding the world of Bin Laden will have been more of a 'last hurrah' of American military reach, while China and India continue to expand their power and influence.
If, however, American politicians begin to seriously address the country's unfunded liabilities while boosting economic growth, then expect over the next decade to see far greater American involvement in Asia-Pacific. The death of Osama Bin Laden could mark the beginning of a new chapter in US-Asian affairs.