Top 10 Political Stories for 2011: Page 2 of 11

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BIN LADEN, IRAQ AND DEFENSE CUTS

On May 1, President Obama strode to a White House podium to announce the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden’s demise at the hands of Navy SEALS in Abbottabad, Pakistan, seemed to bring some sense of closure, however incomplete, almost 10 years after the 9/11 attacks.

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It also gave Obama a political boost. Put simply, he got his man, in a way that his predecessor had failed to do. In the process, he received some level of immunization against the charge of weakness on national security that has haunted many Democrats.

Year’s end also brought fulfillment of one of Obama’s key 2008 campaign pledges: the ending of the war in Iraq. Over almost nine years, the conflict claimed around 4,500 American lives, along with those of about 150,000 Iraqi civilians.

The war in Afghanistan continued against the backdrop of Obama’s promise to withdraw 33,000 U.S. troops by next September. The timetable has been harshly criticized by Republicans.

At the nexus of domestic and foreign-policy concerns, meanwhile, a large question mark looms over the future of the military. Large cuts to the Pentagon budget were seen as part of the price to be paid for the failure of the debt supercommittee. How the military will be affected by those cuts — if they are pushed through — will be a huge 2012 debate.

Here are The Hill’s choices for the 10 most important political stories of the year:

Bin Laden | Giffords | Dissent
Message? | Economy | GOP's reign
Reid & McConnell | Debt ceiling | The wire | GOP candidates

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