He’s BAAaack!

Apparently a new audio clip from Osama bin Laden has surfaced and been aired on Al-Jazeera, the CNN of the Middle East. On the tape he warns of an attack in the U.S. soon and also, a bit surprisingly, proposes a truce to the ongoing war in Iraq and that in Afghanistan. In addition to this he talks about Bush giving misinformation to the U.S. public and the unpopularity of the wars that Bush brought about in his “War on Terror”. I’m not even going to get into the skepticism that one should harbor in regards to the true story behind the September 11th Attacks, but what do people think about the fact that, after nearly four and a half years, the Bush administration with all of its military, financial, and political resources has still not been able to find arguably the most wanted person in recent world history? Eighteen Pakistani civilians can be killed without a peep from the U.S. government with a “precise” missle technology though they can’t locate the whereabouts of this one individual. Is his technology and territorial expertise that beyond the U.S. government’s? Who is he paying to keep himself safe that the U.S. can’t pay more to turn him over? Why is the $234 billion “War on Terror” not focused on catching the person who purportedly started this war and supposedly controls those behind it perpetuation on the Islamic side?

The U.S. public and its political leaders support war because they don’t have to deal with its hellish reality domestically. If Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. was turned into Tel Aviv or Baghdad for just ONE day there would be immeasurably more restraint in bringing that reality to millions of others throughout the world every single day for their entire lives.


10 responses to “He’s BAAaack!

  1. Piotr Brzezinski

    the only comment that suffices for this post, and several others you have made previously, is, “are you serious?” I mean, beyond the half-hearted 9/11 conspiracy theory endorsement and the full blooded ‘GW Bush is hiding Bin Laden in his basement’ claim, can you honestly say that life in Baghdad is worse now than before the war? There’s lots we’ve fucked up, and the harms of the war outwiegh the benifits, but if you are comparing life in Vaghdad under Sadaam to life under US gov. puppet government, I think that the answer is clear – a deeply flawed attempt at rule of law and democracy is far better to an unabashed Stalinist state. Furthermore, even if (as in probably true) turning DC into Tel Aviv for a day would change our leaders’ decisions, how does that make their decisions better? What connection does that have to a normative judgement on their decisions?

  2. I’d also point out that in the last few days the news seems to suggest that the attack in Pakistan didn’t just kill civilians, but several terrorist big-wigs.

  3. To Piotr: My post didn’t insinuate that Bush is hiding Saddam Hussein. It insinuated that he, his administration, and their clandestine CIA comrades don’t seem to be trying THAT hard to get Bin Laden. Four and a half years of living on the lamb and supposedly not leaving one region (despite the difficult terrain) while still escaping the U.S. and its allies is ridiculous.

    You saying that the harms of the war outweigh the benefits make nothing positive you say about the war valid. Also, if you really think the U.S. government did this to bring democracy to Iraq then you are highly mistaken. This war is about oil and the unfinished business of Bush’s father, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfield; it’s about these crazy militaristic powers having the opportunity post-9/11 to accomplish the long-awaited regime change in Iraq they’ve wanted since the ’80s and passing legislation such as the Patriot Act to do things to the U.S. public that their predecessors (such as Nixon) could only dream of. Stuff like spying on citizens, taking note of every time someone checks out Che Guevera’s “Guerrilla Warfare” from a library, ya know. The norm.

    Turning D.C. into Tel Aviv would (probably) make the U.S. government’s decisions better by putting them and their constituents in the midst of the violence they perpetuate around the world. When this violence is not as far removed as tens of thousands of miles away but is down the street from where the live and work they will be more cognizant of the visual and deeply psychological effect of persistent exposure to violence and freedom fighting that exists in Tel Aviv. Let a suicide bomber blow themselves up in Georgetown or somewhere else in Northwest D.C. and have their kids, wives, and constituents live in constant fear of going out shopping for shoes at the National Mall only to have their mid-afternoon outing disrupted by the remains of someone’s body being thrown about in front of you or on you and your child. That’s the reality of the Middle East thanks in large part to the U.S. government. What happened the last time there was a supposed terrorist attack on the U.S.? We started a huge, expensive, international war and conducted two regime changes. Who else does this? Did the British do it after the events from this past summer? Did Spain do it after the Spring 2004 Madrid attacks. No. Only the U.S. handles terrorism in this way. We think it can’t happen to us and are absolutely shocked when it does.

    To Anonymous: If the U.S. government really wanted to kill the “terrorist big wigs” they’d make the short drive over the McLean, Virginia and destroy the CIA’s headquarters. This war on terror should start with the people who invented modern day terrorism.

    However, is it OK to kill civilians if there are terrorists present? You seem to suggest that their death is justified if gains in the war on terror were made. I disagree with this as well.

  4. “This war on terror should start with the people who invented modern day terrorism.” This being the CIA, in your opinion. I don’t know if you’re being glib or ignorant, or a combination of both. It may be intellectually in vogue or make you feel like you’re an intellectual when you write things like that, but not recognizing that there is a real difference between what the Pakistan strike achieved and the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people that terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda engage in makes it extremely difficult to take you seriously. I doubt that you care, but it is something you should think about.

    Were I to invite the leading instigators of the Darfur genocide over for dinner, give them aid and comfort, and perhaps materially support their mission, maybe you would go so far as to brand me a supporter of the genocide. If that’s the case, then what is wrong with my suffering the same punishment? Would you cry injustice on my behalf? Would you describe me as an innocent “civilian”? I doubt it.

  5. We’re not talking about the aims of terrorism. We’re talking about acts. The CIA helped fund and train the mujahidin to fight off the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1992. Remember, this is Cold War times when anything Soviet was terrible and evil and needed to be destroyed with all haste. These individuals were led by Osama Bin Laden and after successfully staving off the Russians Al-Qaeda was formed to maintain Islamic law and fight against religious/economic imperialism throughout the Middle East (which is why, to an extent, they opposed Hussein’s secular rule). The CIA’s involvement here should not be overlooked.

    For a really eye-opening account of why terrorist organizations kill innocent people take a look at Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert A. Pape. It’s really exhaustive and basically says that the suicide attacks occur to get occupying military forces to leave the land which they occupy ASAP. Will the Pakistan bombing help get Al-Qaeda cells out of the U.S.? Nah, homie. But please believe every time someone blows themselves up in Iraq Bush’s approval rating and the U.S. public’s support for the Iraq War decrease placing increased pressure on politicians to withdraw military personnel as soon as feasable.

    Your genocide paragraph is unclear.

  6. The genocide paragraph was attempting to make an analogy to the “civilians” who were associating with the terrorists killed in the Pakistan strike. I would assume that, given the genocide role described, such a person should suffer the same punishment as the actual perpetrators of the crime. The analogy would be that the supporters of the Al-Qaeda terrorists should not be considered “civilians” either.

    I’m well aware of the psychological and strategic goals of suicide bombers. That their actions serve a strategic purpose does not make them excusable or make me more sympathetic.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t recall ever “ignoring” the CIA’s role in Afghanistan in the 1980s. I think that is entirely irrlevant to our discussion here, unless that was your attempt at proving the CIA “invented modern day terrorism,” in which case it would, historically speaking, be laughably inaccurate.

    And the aims of terrorism and the acts of terrorists are inseparable – the former inspire the latter.

    Finally, I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say “Al-Qaeda was formed to maintain Islamic law and fight against religious/economic imperialism throughout the Middle East.” Isn’t Al-Qaeda’s (and other radical Islamist groups’) religious vision a form of religious imperialism in its worst form? I assume that you mean it was meant to counteract some Western secular or perhaps Christian influence, but in doing so it substituted its own, and much more sinister (and illiberal) brand of religious imperialism.

  7. Now you’re switching things up again. “Associating” with people (as you say in your most recent post) is different from giving them “aid” or “material support” (as you said in an earlier post). Which or you talking about?

    If you haven’t noticed, the face of modern day terrorism (or at least the one which the U.S. and its alies would have you believe) is Osama Bin Laden. He wasn’t orchestrating flying planes into building before U.S. training. Believe that. Afghanistan…1980s…CIA…follow the trail of training.

    The aims and acts of terrorism can be thought of like the following. Aims: liberating one’s people from neo-conservative, neo-imperialist, or neo-religious conquest (in a vague sense…i.e. with Al-Qaeda) or ending local occupation of a foreign body (in a direct sense…i.e. with Palestinians or Iraqis). Acts: inflicting large human casualties on those who are deemed “enemies”, often be they military or civilian targets. Why go after civilians? It makes the public feel vulnerable and terrorists hope that it will inspire political leaders to get their people out of harm’s way or else face widespread public discontent with the government. The aims do inspire the acts, you’re right.

    You may be right on the aims of Al-Qaeda specifically. If so, I admit my blunder. This however, deals with the discrepancy between an organization’s aims and acts. Al-Qaeda’s aims have not been political coups or religious targets (as they would need to in order to bring about Muslim imperilaism). They’ve been the acts I stated above.

  8. Clearly, I meant “associating” in the context of the previous post – nothing tricky here on my part.

    I still have no clue what you’re getting at with the CIA as “the people who invented modern day terrorism.” This is historically false. The link between the CIA and Bin Laden in Afghanistan in the 1980s is well documented and I’ve never challenged you on this point. I’ve only challenged the absurd notion that the CIA is “the people who invented modern day terrorism.”

    I believe Al-Qaeda’s aims to be a form of imperialism because they support an illiberal form of Islam (as under the Taliban). The organization’s role in supporting such Islam, especially in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia is well documented. Here I define imperialism to be forcing (or coercing) a populace to conform to a type of religion they would not otherwise choose. While there are undoubtedly Muslims in the Middle East who agree on the same religious vision as Al-Qaeda, there are plenty who would be fine with a moderate, liberal, or even secular state in which they could still practice their religion. It is the coercive nature of Al-Qaeda’s brand of Islam that makes it imperialist – forced conformity with a set of strict religious principles with no tolerance for deviation.

  9. I feel you and I have divergent views on what terrorism is. I feel that terrorism is the strategic use of violence and fear for political gain in the interests of a particular group of individuals, not a population at large. This would involve coups of democratically elected leaders and flying planes into buildings. I feel that the CIA has led the way on both. Reference the first link in my second comment above for understanding.

  10. You may “feel” that the CIA has led the way on both, but that doesn’t prove your ridiculous assertion that they are the people who “invented modern day terrorism.” It is simply, undeniably, historically inaccurate. Unless you haven’t noticed, I’ve never challenged you on the Afghanistan 1980s – CIA link. Why you keep coming back to this is beyond me.

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