We present two articles from United States that present views that are not part of mainstream media. A little realism rather than triumphalism.
Bin Laden’s Dead, But Our Long National Nightmare is Not Over
Ding-Dong the Witch is dead!
Well, that’s nice, I suppose. But after ten years of wars that we paid for on the National credit card, one of them (Iraq) clearly and unquestionably unnecessary, after trillions of dollars wasted killing hundreds of thousands of people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and destroying the lives of millions more, we still ain’t back in Kansas, Dorothy.
At this point, Osama Bin Laden had been reduced to a curiosity, less important than Mr. Irrelevant (That’s the official title bestowed upon the last football player drafted by the football team who holds the last pick in in the NFL Draft for those unfamiliar with the term). Everyone in the know agrees he was little more than a symbolic figurehead with little to do but evade capture and issue the occasional tape to prove he was still alive.
Hey, I’m happy that a mass murderer and the criminal leader of the gang who attacked the Two Towers, the Pentagon and killed roughly 3000 people on 9/11 no longer is wasting space here on this earth. I’m happy for the victims and the families who lost loved ones in that senseless attack. If I’d been in New York City last night I might well have spent time out in the streets celebrating, too.
However, the response set in motion by our government after that attack, a government who ignored the warning signs of an impending attack, and the by the political party then made hay while the “sun shined” (i.e., convinced Americans that they had everything to fear, especially from Democrats) in order to win elections and impose their reckless policies of privatization, corruption and rewards for war profiteers, is not over.
We still have Wall Street Bankers in charge of our economy, with far too little oversight.
We still have a stagnant economy that has been and will continue to be a massive burden for the poor and middle classes, while CEO’s and executives like Stephen Hemsley of Health Insurance giant Wellpoint earned total compensation last year of $101.96 million.
We still have a war being waged on unions, public education and local control of government by Republican governors.
We have young men and women, highly educated, talented and hardworking kids graduating from College this year, many of whom will have little chance of finding meaningful employment.
We have millions of older worker who have been unemployed or underemployed for months and many now for years.
We have gas prices and oil company profits going through the roof (again). Exxon announced quarterly profits of $11 billion, up 69 percent from a year ago.
And it’s not only Exxon. Other oil companies are prospering, too. Shares of Chevron rose 1.7 percent after the company said Friday that its net income rose 36 percent, its best quarter since 2008.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC reported $8.78 billion in first-quarter profits, up 60 percent from a year ago. BP PLC’s quarterly earnings rose 16 percent to $7.2 billion. ConocoPhillips said net income grew 43 percent to $3 billion and Occidental Petroleum Corp. said earnings climbed 46 percent to $1.55 billion.
Meanwhile Republicans in Congress refuse to eliminate massive subsidies for those very same oil companies who claim it would hurt Exxon, BP and the other Big Oil companies’ feelings eliminate the massive harm their gouging of the public and other businesses whose fuel prices are skyrocketing harm their shareholders America itself if we forced them to shoulder part of the burden of the cost of our military that is deployed around the world in large part to protect the sources of their massive wealth generating vaccuum machine:
What ingrates we are. How could we even think of rolling back $4 billion a year in tax subsidies for big oil and gas? Just because the energy corporation-nations are making even more gargantuan profits as they reap the windfall from gasoline prices that are bringing our economy to its knees, we’re whining about their special-favor treatment. Have we no pride? […]
So, yeah, I’m happy we got Osama Bin Laden at long last. But while it may be a feel good story for Americans over the short term, his death does little to improve the lives of Americans. Nor will it eliminate the National Security State and the massive and largely unknown infringement on our liberties that Republicans (and many Democrats too, sadly) instituted “because of 9/11” while doing little to make our country “more secure.”
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. […]
Underscoring the seriousness of these issues are the conclusions of retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who was asked last year to review the method for tracking the Defense Department’s most sensitive programs. Vines, who once commanded 145,000 troops in Iraq and is familiar with complex problems, was stunned by what he discovered.
“I’m not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities,” he said in an interview. “The complexity of this system defies description.”
The result, he added, is that it’s impossible to tell whether the country is safer because of all this spending and all these activities. “Because it lacks a synchronizing process, it inevitably results in message dissonance, reduced effectiveness and waste,” Vines said. “We consequently can’t effectively assess whether it is making us more safe.” […]
“After 9/11, when we decided to attack violent extremism, we did as we so often do in this country,” he said. “The attitude was, if it’s worth doing, it’s probably worth overdoing.”
So pardon me, if in the cold light of day, I’m not jumping with joy that an old, sick man with very little control over active terrorist cells was given his ticket to paradise yesterday. It’s a “Good News” story that I suspect mostly will be trumpeted by the media to obscure the reality of our “Bad News” situation more than its consequences will help improve that reality.
The Killing of Bin Laden: Justice or Vengeance?
Does the killing of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden represent ultimate justice, or even an end to the “unfinished business” of 9/11?
Phyllis Bennis is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She is the author of “Before & After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the War on Terrorism May 2, 2011 |
U.S. agents killed bin Laden in Pakistan, apparently without cooperation from the government in Islamabad. The al Qaeda leader was responsible for great suffering, and I do not mourn his death. But every action has causes and consequences, and in the current moment all are dangerous. It is unlikely that the killing of bin Laden will have much impact on the already weakened capacity of al Qaeda, widely believed to be made up of only a couple hundred fighters between Afghanistan and Pakistan, though its effect on other terrorist forces is uncertain – Pakistan itself may pay a particularly high price.
As President Obama described it, “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden.” Assuming that was indeed the case, this raid reflects the brutal reality of the deadly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that preceded it and that continue today, ten years later – it was not about bringing anyone to justice, it was about vengeance.
And given the enormous human costs still being paid by Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis and others in the U.S. wars waged in the name of capturing bin Laden, it is particularly ironic that in the end it wasn’t the shock-and-awe airstrikes or invasions of ground troops, but rather painstaking police work – careful investigation, cultivating intelligence sources – that made possible the realization of that goal.
President Obama acknowledged that the post-9/11 unity of the people of the United States “has at time frayed.” But he didn’t mention that that unity had actually collapsed completely within 24 hours of the horrifying attacks on the twin towers. September 11th didn’t “change the world;” the world was changed on September 12th, when George W. Bush announced his intention to take the world to war in response. That was the moment that the actual events of 9/11, a crime against humanity that killed nearly 3,000 people, were left behind and the “global war on terror” began. That GWOT war has brought years of war, devastation and destruction to hundreds of thousands around the world, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond.
There was an unprecedented surge of unity, of human solidarity, in response to the crime of 9/11. In the U.S. much of that response immediately took on a jingoistic and xenophobic frame (some of which showed up again last night in the aggressive chants of “USA, USA!!” from flag-waving, cheering crowds outside the White House following President Obama’s speech). Some of it was overtly militaristic, racist and Islamophobic. But some really did reflect a level of human unity unexpected and rare in U.S. history. Even internationally, solidarity with the people of the U.S. for a brief moment replaced the well-deserved global anger at U.S. arrogance, wars, and drive towards empire. In France, headlines proclaimed “nous sommes tous Américaines maintenant.” We are all Americans now.
But that human solidarity was short-lived. It was destroyed by the illegal wars that shaped U.S. response to the 9/11 crime. Those wars quickly created numbers of victims far surpassing the 3,000 killed on September 11. The lives of millions more around the world were transformed in the face of U.S. aggression – in Pakistan alone, where a U.S. military team assassinated bin Laden, thousands of people have been killed and maimed by U.S. drone strikes and the suicide bombs that are part of the continuing legacy of the U.S. war. These wars have brought too much death and destruction, too many people have died, too many children have been orphaned, for the U.S. to claim, as President Obama’s triumphantly did, that “justice has been done” because one man, however symbolically important, has been killed. However one calculates when and how “this fight” actually began, the U.S. government chose how to respond to 9/11. And that response, from the beginning, was one of war and vengeance – not of justice.
President Obama’s speech last night could have aimed to put an end to the triumphalism of the “global war on terror” that George Bush began and Barack Obama claimed as his own. It could have announced a new U.S. foreign policy based on justice, equality, and respect for other nations. But it did not. It declared instead that the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and beyond will continue.
In that reaffirmation of war, President Obama reasserted the American exceptionalism that has been a hallmark of his recent speeches, claiming that “America can do whatever we set our mind to.” He equated the U.S. ability and willingness to continue waging ferocious wars, with earlier accomplishments of the U.S. – including, without any trace of irony, the “struggle for equality for all our citizens.” In President Obama’s iteration, the Global War on Terror apparently equals the anti-slavery and civil rights movements.
Today, across the region, the Arab Spring is on the rise. It is ineffably sad that President Obama, in his claim that bin Laden’s death means justice, did not use the opportunity to announce the end of the deadly U.S. wars that answered the attacks of 9/11. This could have been a moment to replace vengeance with cooperation, replace war with justice.
But it was not. Regardless of bin Laden’s death, as long as those deadly U.S. wars continue in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and beyond, justice has not been done.