Dead men don't talk, so if Osama bin Laden is now dead, or already has been dead, there are a lot of questions that will forever go unanswered. Why kill and not capture Osama bin Laden? Wouldn't he be a valuable source of information? Wouldn't interrogating him potentially save lives?
Of course, capture would require imprisonment and trial, or at the very least a show trial. Obama's decision to assassinate bin Laden confirms he didn't want a trial. Why not? The entire operation was video-taped too. Why hasn't the video been released? Why was the body dumped into the ocean? Isn't this highly suspicious? Doesn't this embolden bin Laden as a martyr, thus improve al-Qaeda's recruiting?
The following are a couple of interesting takes on bin Laden's death. The first by award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist Eric Margolis, and the second by economist and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, Paul Craig Roberts.
The assassination of Osama bin Laden by US Special Forces in Abbotabad, Pakistan will likely assure Barack Obama’s victory in the 2012 presidential race. Republican hawks will have a hard time pressing their claims that Obama is "soft on terrorism."
Details about the killing of bin Laden remain obscure.
Bin Laden’s body was photographed and then apparently dumped into the sea from a US aircraft. Washington claims this was done to observe Muslim funeral rites calling for almost immediate burial. This sounds preposterous.
The real reason was more likely to prevent bin Laden’s burial site from becoming a shrine and, some cynics will assert, getting rid of the evidence. Expect endless claims that a bin Laden double was killed while the real McCoy still haunts Pakistan’s badlands. Various fakes videotapes used to depict bin Laden as the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks used doubles.
Gleeful Americans are rejoicing that the man credited with the monstrous crime of 9/11 has been killed after a ten year search. More thoughtful ones may stop to ponder the remarkable Quixotic drama of a single man who set out to overturn the mighty American Imperium.
To people of the Muslim world, where many hailed bin Laden as a hero and liberator from Western domination, his killing in Pakistan will recall American gangland rub-outs and bodies dumped in New Jersey’s waters and swamps. Particularly after NATO warplanes killed Muammar Gadaffi’s youngest son and three grandchildren in Libya.
Expect already acid US-Pakistan relations to yet worsen as Americans accuse Pakistan of sheltering bin Laden for a decade. This writer has long said that Bin Laden was in Pakistan, and likely with at least some knowledge of ISI, Pakistani intelligence, though its able former Director General, Hamid Gul, whose word I respect, disputes this claim.
A big question now is what justification will Washington come up with to keep 150,000 Western troops in Afghanistan?
Hunting down bin Laden was, remember, the primary reason for sending US troops to that remote nation.
What of al-Qaida? This extremist group, as I have been writing since 1999, was tiny. Never more than 300 men in 2001. Today, the core al-Qaida in Pakistan consists of a handful of hunted men. CIA chief Leon Panetta asserted that there were something less than 50 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan. There may be a hundred in Pakistan – all on the run.
North America’s media and the Bush administration wildly exaggerated the menace, strength and reach of al-Qaida, panicking Americans into believing, as the analyst Kevin Phillips wrote, that suburban soccer moms in the deepest Midwest were petrified Osama bin Laden was coming for their kids.
Osama bin Laden lived long enough to see the revolutions that he had helped ignite among young people burst into towering flames. In this sense, bin Ladenism will prosper and spread, enhanced by the image of Osama the martyr.
Today, the nearly bankrupt United States is spending hundreds of billions annually waging small wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and the Sahara. Grotesquely overblown military spending and debt addiction are crippling United States. That is why the ghost of bin Laden may be smiling.
Think about it. What are the chances that a person allegedly suffering from kidney disease and requiring dialysis and, in addition, afflicted with diabetes and low blood pressure, survived in mountain hideaways for a decade? If bin Laden was able to acquire dialysis equipment and medical care that his condition required, would not the shipment of dialysis equipment point to his location? Why did it take ten years to find him?
Consider also the claims, repeated by a triumphalist US media celebrating bin Laden’s death, that "bin Laden used his millions to bankroll terrorist training camps in Sudan, the Philippines, and Afghanistan, sending ‘holy warriors’ to foment revolution and fight with fundamentalist Muslim forces across North Africa, in Chechnya, Tajikistan and Bosnia." That’s a lot of activity for mere millions to bankroll (perhaps the US should have put him in charge of the Pentagon), but the main question is: how was bin Laden able to move his money about? What banking system was helping him? The US government succeeds in seizing the assets of people and of entire countries, Libya being the most recent. Why not bin Laden’s? Was he carrying around with him $100 million dollars in gold coins and sending emissaries to distribute payments to his far-flung operations?
This morning’s headline has the odor of a staged event. The smell reeks from the triumphalist news reports loaded with exaggerations, from celebrants waving flags and chanting "USA USA." Could something else be going on?
No doubt President Obama is in desperate need of a victory ... And re-election time is approaching.
The various lies and deceptions, such as "weapons of mass destruction," of the last several administrations had terrible consequences for the US and the world. But not all deceptions are the same. Remember, the entire reason for invading Afghanistan in the first place was to get bin Laden. Now that President Obama has declared bin Laden to have been shot in the head by US special forces operating in an independent country and buried at sea, there is no reason for continuing the war.
The American Conservative's Dennis Dale weighs in too.
This is the perfect moment for the president to declare victory in the Global War on Terror (I’m ready to play along) and announce our expedited withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. Qaeda’s lack of anyone of comparable stature to replace bin Laden provides us with the opportunity to make of his death a symbolic finale (the leadership void also reveals al Qaeda’s weakness). Time is of the essence. Acting now, before the "Arab Spring" heats up with the inevitable frustrations of summer, we could take the demagogic wind out of the electoral sails of the region’s Islamists. On the other hand, if America is seen as unrelenting following bin Laden's death heading into the uncertainty of post-Spring Arabia we hand them the mother of all martyrs.
Change is hard, Mr. President. It’s time, finally, to face down the Pentagon and the Three Stooges (here they are, I think in one of their little-known "road" movies) and bring the troops home.
Note also where bin Laden was found, amidst the same Pakistani military elite that has been spending billions of dollars in US aid for cooperation in, among other things, the hunt for bin Laden!
It suggests both that bin Laden was not nearly as effective as he was symbolic and that al Qaeda, here a decade and two US occupations of Muslim lands after 9/11, still struggles to attract talent and maintain organization ... And now the global jihad has local political competition for the discontented. The terrorist threat is real, it just isn’t great.