Osama bin Laden (1957-2011)

presidential smug

So everyone’s favorite Scary Towelhead Boogeyman is finally dead, after only nearly ten years too. Now that it’s fait accompli, a significant fraction of people are actually contemplating the possibility of him being on trial if he was successfully captured, as a hypothetical. Of course, that runs into a few problems that everyone thinking about the issue has gone over a million times. If you have a public trial, it’ll be a media carnival and a bully pulpit for radical Islam, not to mention it could bring up a hornet’s nest of inconvenient facts that would make Wikileaks look like a slumber party. Keep it behind closed doors and you feed the jihadist machine. Lynch him (as the howling GOP troglodytes will undoubtedly whip their base into demanding) or just plain execution, and you create a martyr that is way out of proportion to bin Laden’s actual influence in 2011. So OBL’s obvious refusal to be captured alive is convenient for everyone having a stake in the region, since he’s outlived his usefulness and can be safely assassinated. Make no mistake, this was a far better candidate for that term as opposed to Gaddafi, who is actually the legitimate head of a conventional military structure. Last time I heard the nomenclature for the latter was “decapitating strike”.

The issue of how involved Pakistan was in the operation is also the subject of intense speculation now that we know he was living in relative comfort in Abbottabad. The huge mansion was within walking distance of a military academy, and the town is a regimental base for the army, so it’s incredibly ludicruous to claim the ISI and/or the army wasn’t aware of his presence. There have long been theories that certain elements in the ISI at the very least are using Al-Qaeda and the Taleban to destablize their northern neighbour, because the last thing they need is another strong neighbour besides India. That is the conservative interpretation, with the other theory being the state apparatus in Pakistan has been thoroughly infiltrated by fundamentalist sympathizers. Although Obama claims that the raid was done with Pakistan’s approval, it’s highly possible that the raid was kept quiet from the vast majority of the governmental forces for fear of either internal blowback or strategically worse (from the perspective of the US), of Osama escaping and the botched raid made public, in which case Pakistan would be very likely to disavow involvement and turn on the US diplomatically. It’s also possible the ISI has had a change of heart and thrown Osama, an orphaned figurehead of a weakened movement, to the dogs. What is clear is that Obama took a massive political risk sanctioning the raid, and at least in a domestic context, it’s paid off for him splendidly.

What’s striking in all this is how intensely pathetic Osama had became. He’s reduced to virtual house arrest, has access neither to the Internet or a phone, and rubbish has to be burned. It’s a life of intense paranoia and what’s worse, all that only makes his hideout even more obvious to suspicious eyes considering the place cost over a million in a comfortable neighbourhood. At the end of his life even his death has become staged political theater, considering Obama must have known about the planned operation (if not its outcome) during the Correspondents’ Dinner where Trump was roasted in hilarious fashion. May 1st also coincidentally happened to be both the 8 year anniversary of Bush’s infamous MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, as well as the death confirmation date of one Herr Adolf Hitler. Obama also delayed his speech until the last 15 min of Trump’s Apprentice broadcast. While all that may be (amusing) coincidence, the contents of Obama’s speech, littered with Christian references and American triumphalism clearly meant as blatant pandering to his prospective voters in 2012, makes it harder to chalk all that off conveniently, especially with people overseas already inclined to view the US with less trusting eyes due to Obama’s presidency turning out to be almost identical to the Bush administration in practical matters. Bin Laden might be dead, but that’s scant consolation for the incredible number of lives, many of them innocent, lost in 2 nations, one of which was only invaded out of outright deceit and the vaguest of casus belli using 9/11 as an excuse. It will certainly serve to incite fundamentalism once again (which has mostly moved to SE Asia as a spawning ground), and things may look even grimmer for the Afghans since there’s now an overwhelming temptation for America to declare victory and run, leaving a complete mess behind. That’s the standard result of almost every American miltary adventure since WWII, so it’s far more probable than any other outcome, sadly.

P.S:Turns out he was buried at sea. I suspect the birthers will be clutching at that straw as if it was Wonder Woman’s unbreakable rope. They want their gloating parade with the death certificate, damnit.

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