RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Intro: "Bragging aside, Obama's assassination of al-Qaida's leader has not altered a US default of being mired in disastrous foreign wars."

U.S. President Barack Obama during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 30, 2012. (photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
U.S. President Barack Obama during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 30, 2012. (photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Bin Laden's Death: Zero Impact on US Security

By Gary Younge, Guardian UK

03 May 12


ast week, Afghanistan; two coalition troops were injured and one killed by Afghan soldiers; the US reached an agreement with the Afghan government to maintain a presence in the country until 2024; and the US failed to break a diplomatic deadlock with Pakistan after the US refused to apologise for killing 25 Pakistani soldiers in November.

This week, the White House will celebrate the anniversary of the assassination of Osama bin Laden as though it were the crowning achievement of its foreign policy. On Wednesday, Obama will hold a rare televised interview in the situation room to discuss the raid in Abbottabad. His campaign has released of a web video in which Bill Clinton says President Obama "took the harder and the more honorable path, and the one that produced, in my opinion, the best result". The video then asks, "Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?"

The man who entered the White House with the message of "hope" and "change" wants to hold on to it with a record of "shoot to kill".

Republicans are right to criticise the president for the crass manner in which he is "dancing around the end zone". Unfortunately, those criticisms ring hollow from a party whose leader played dress up on the USS Abraham Lincoln to announce the end of a war that is still not over, and whose presidential candidate claims Obama should stop travelling the globe "apologising for" America. Moreover, the problem is not that Obama is exploiting a moment of national unity for partisan gain – though he most certainly is – but that this extra-judicial execution of an unmourned man has proved the only event capable of uniting the country since 9/11.

For, as the events over the last week bear out, beyond avenging the attacks on the world trade centre, the assassination of Bin Laden has achieved precious little. Assassination is not a foreign policy. Nor is it a judicial strategy. Vengeance, however righteous, is not an argument, let alone a plan. The two wars, ostensibly launched in response to 11 September 2001 have been disasters, leaving many more civilians dead than the original act of terror. America's standing around the world has yet to fully recover. The geopolitical relations in the area around Afghanistan and Pakistan remain fragile. Obama's approval ratings spiked for a month after the Abbottabad raid , before dipping back below 50% where they remain.

A message sent to local law enforcement last week by the FBI and Homeland Security stated:

"We assess that al-Qaida's affiliates and allies remain intent on conducting attacks in the homeland, possibly to avenge the death of Bin Laden, but not necessarily tied to next month's anniversary."

Both the fact and the manner of Bin Laden's demise simply proved what nobody ever doubted: America's ability to kill remains intact and unrivalled. Sadly, its ability to prosecute, convict, persuade and develop remains either untested or unproven.

Every time a drone kills a kid in Pakistan, the US creates more terrorists than it can ever hope to prevent through a single assassination. Unlike Trayvon Martin, the dead may not "look like" Obama. But they are still someone's son (or daughter). The episodic atrocities leaked to American newspapers hardly instil confidence in the mission either. Its three principal interventions in the region – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya – have ended with death of leaders at the hands of mob, hangman or marksman. But none has provided enduring benefits.

That Obama would be unsubtle in making Bin Laden's execution a central element of his reelection strategy was clear from his state of the union speech in January, which both started and finished with a recollection of the Navy Seals' deadly deed. But if anyone was in any doubt, Vice-President Joe Biden last week boasted:

"If you are looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it's pretty simple: 'General Motors is alive; Osama bin Laden is dead'."

Simplistic, certainly, but convincing? Hardly. Indeed, if such a bumper sticker, boasting bailouts and bullets, sums up anything, it's the partial and inadequate nature of Obama's tenure that has garnered such disappointment.

General Motors' continued existence is good news for its workers and American manufacturing. But unemployment in Detroit remains at 17.8%. The slogan "America is back" intended to celebrate the recovery polled badly because, given the economic precariousness, few were in a celebratory mood.

Similarly, given his predecessor's incompetence, Obama's accomplishment of Bin Laden's death is an achievement of sorts. When Obama took over, many people asked George Bush's last CIA director, Michael Hayden: "When's the last time you really knew where [Bin Laden] was?" Hayden replied: "Tora Bora in 2001." The trouble is, comparing yourself to Bush sets the bar far lower than the expectation Obama had originally set up.

Since al-Qaida was never a top-down organisation, Bin Laden's assassination does not make much of a dent in the terror threat. So it's an "achievement" that makes little difference to anyone's life, either in Afghanistan, or Pakistan or the US. That's precisely why Obama has to keep reminding people that it happened – but why the benefits of doing so are so shortlived. Because of everything else that's going on – both abroad and at home – it's easily forgettable.

So, let the hoop-la begin and let jingoism reign. Let the cameras roll on the retrospectives, reconstructions and general revelling in the military prowess of a crack squad on a tough mission, launched by the warrior-in-chief who held his nerve. "You wanted cold, calculating; you got cold, calculating," says Bruce Riedel, a senior foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution, who has advised the last three presidents on issues relating to the Middle East and South Asia:

"He coldly calculated the odds of whether Osama bin Laden would be in that villa – they were about 50/50. He coldly calculated that we would probably never get odds as good as 50/50 and so he went forward. It was a careful assessment of risk and opportunity."

And then, let the printers start on the new bumper stickers. Not "Yes We Can", but "Could Be Worse". your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+7 # JH Gordon 2012-05-03 10:54
When properly viewed, everything is skewed. And between the Republicans and Democrats, we have been screwed.

Bush was the global village idiot. Obama had a chance to right things and blew it so thoroughly he shouldn't be smug about the votes he got last time.

Take a look at Rocky Anderson and the Justice Party. If you haven't heard of him,its time you did.

JH Gordon
How to burn down Wall St. and get away with it.
+2 # John Locke 2012-05-03 15:47
"We assess that al-Qaida's affiliates and allies remain intent on conducting attacks in the homeland, possibly to avenge the death of Bin Laden,..."

In fact his assassination has made us even more unsafe...They will find a way to attack us over his murder...but our government could not dare allow this unarmed man to be taken alive and testify against us at any criminal trial...
+1 # JH Gordon 2012-05-03 11:08
So what made that goat herder so popular in the first place? Was it the family money? Or was it something else? What made people follow him?

I don't think Obama has asked himself that question nor has anyone in our State Department. Because if they did, they might make a few adjustments to why we as a country and now so reviled.

America's main problem now is our elections. The process has been stolen and can no longer be called a democracy. If money can buy it, it ain't democracy.

We need the money out of politics. We should start with the tax deductible money. Obama say's he's going to raise over a billion for his run at reelection. We can't afford a head start breakfast program but he can wallow in tax deductible cash. Our Treasury needs a Head Start program and the IRS is the means to do it. Change the Tax Code and you change the face of our political system.

No deduction for buying political influence. No campaign contribution deduction. Send your lobbyists in broke. And try to convince your stockholders to support the candidate of your choice from their profits.

Take a look at Rocky Anderson may be the answer.

JH Gordon
+4 # amye 2012-05-03 11:48
The one great benefit Obama could have gotten after killing Bin Laden, was to end the Afghanistan war!! He could've and should've done that! It was a great opportunity to stop the longest war in our history and bring the troops home! Who are his political advisors? That was a no brainer!!
+3 # John Locke 2012-05-03 15:48
amye, He is still using Bush's advisors, this is the change we were promissed
+7 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-05-03 12:37
...and the guy had a Nobel peace prize before he even had a chance to merit it!
0 # Michael_K 2012-05-14 12:34
Quoting Granny Weatherwax:
...and the guy had a Nobel peace prize before he even had a chance to merit it!

And then he defiantly gave the spineless Nobel Committee over a dozen reasons to take it back!!!!
+4 # Michael_K 2012-05-03 12:41
Wake up people! Obama is not "failing" or "spineless", he's doing exactly what he always planned to do... shred the Constitution, protect his predecessors, empower the banks and insurers, and loot the last dime in our economy. He's NOT stupid! He's a criminal, l;ike his distant cousin Dick.
+6 # Glen 2012-05-03 13:08
Correct, Michael, but I would insert here that he is just part of the plan set forth quite some time ago. He knew what he was signing on for when he was recruited to run for office. NOBODY runs for office any longer without knowing the plan or without the explicit OK by those in charge. Nobody runs as an innocent with a good heart and with the intent to "lead". That hasn't happened for many many generations.
+6 # futhark 2012-05-03 16:21
"Every time a drone kills a kid in Pakistan, the US creates more terrorists than it can ever hope to prevent through a single assassination."

This is single most cogent statement in the article. The drone assassination program is a guaranteed "terrorist" inducer. What would you do if Afghan or Pakistani or Iranian drones were zapping kids in your neighborhood? If you were a gun-toting Second Amendment type, you'd be firing on them from the bunker you would have built in your back yard and your neighbors would revere you as a patriot.

Our leaders seem to totally lack the capacity to view these conflicts from the other side. I suppose that is because they accept the dogma of American Exceptionalism, that American motives and actions are always ethical and justifiable because they are taken on behalf of the world's "greatest democracy".
-1 # Glen 2012-05-03 18:18
Or - as a co-poster on another news site once said: Every time a drone kills a kid in Pakistan, an angel gets its wings. Or a butterfly, or a fairy, or anything uninformed Americans may wish.

Better build that old style bomb shelter. It's coming...

Our leaders have the capacity to view these conflicts from the other side, they just choose not to.
0 # Innocent Victim 2012-05-04 08:13
We don't really know the extent of OBL's participation in the 9/11 attacks. Of course, he claimed responsibility, but there has been no independent proof of it. In any case, OBL produced a revolution in the US: the militarists and imperialists have taken over the government in the persons of GWB and BHO. It was a revolution because the Constitution has been set aside: in matters including torture, making war, privacy and other rights of Americans and due process of law, there is no law; only a President's determination. This is truly a revolution, and we are now ruled not by law but by force.

OBL has, in fact, produced an abandonment of law in the US, a destruction far worse than those of 9/11, a destruction of what this country has bled for since the Declaration of Independence. OBL has been victorious beyond his fondest dreams of destroying the US we once knew.
0 # futhark 2012-05-04 19:09
My understanding is that OBL consistently denied any role in the planning or execution of the 9/11 attacks, but did rejoice in them. The FBI could never come up with the evidence required to prosecute him for any role in these attacks and so the warrant for his arrest cited only his roles in the attacks on the U.S.S. Cole and the east African embassies. The videotape of him "discovered" in Kandahar partying and boasting about 9/11 and available on the Internet for years was a clear forgery. The actor playing Bin Laden was a rotund guy with about 40 to 50 pounds on the real OBL and was wearing a gold ring, strictly forbidden for fundamentalist Muslims.

Osama Bin Laden was clearly no hero for peace, but rather served the neocons in the way that the fictional "Emmanuel Goldstein" served the Ingsoc Party in Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-four", a focus for socially unifying hate and support for the authoritarian and militaristic security state apparatus run by a powerful elite.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.