The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Osama’s Death Changes Almost Nothing

I’m rather more interested in the Canadian election, which is also rather more important than Bin Laden’s death, but let’s run through this.  First, however, insert obligatory “he’s a mass murderer who deserved death” statement here.  OBL was an evil man and I’m not sorry he’s dead.  I’m even kind of glad they killed him rather than capturing him, if only for the purely selfish reason that I didn’t really want to have to defend OBL when they tortured him, as, of course, they would.

Bin Laden still won: Yeah, sorry, but Bin Laden’s goal was to push the US into imperial overreach, causing economic collapse.  He succeeded, with a lot of help from Bush and Obama’s stupidity, and there was nothing in Obama’s little speech that indicated he intended to seize this opportunity to pull out of Iraq, Afghanistan and end the security state.  If anything, the security state will go into even further overdrive.  Enjoy being groped.

No Drawdown, No End to Destruction of Civil Liberties And yeah, if Bin Laden hated America because of America’s freedoms (he didn’t) well he still won.  The 4th amendment is dead, the 1st is on life support, and the TSA freely humiliates you or denies you freedom to travel at their whim.

No, it doesn’t mean Obama has won in 2012 The election isn’t going to be about national security, per se, it’s going to be about the economy.  Hating Osama is great’n’all, but it doesn’t put a chicken in a pot, give you a place to live, or a job.  It doesn’t reduce the price of gasoline one cent.  The election is still well out, this euphoria will fade.  That doesn’t mean Obama will lose 2012 either.  It just means it isn’t as big a factor as most people seem to think it is.

Terror Networks: Doubt it makes all that much difference here, either, honestly.  Most al-Q’aeda groups are essentially franchises, and the main one isn’t that important.  I’m sure CIA agents stationed in Afghanistan in charge of drone attacks are breathing a sigh of relief, however.  More to the point, it’s not clear to me that Osama is less dangerous as a martyr than as a living old man attached to a dialysis machine.

Bin Laden deserved to die, but when the euphoria dies down, his death doesn’t change much, if anything.  He still accomplished his goal, a goal he was willing to die for.  The Muslim world, Afghanistan and Iraq (and I’m sure, to his dying day, Bin Laden thought the Iraq invasion was a gift from Allah), are still going to be the graveyard of empire, this time the US empire.  Oh, it’s not dead yet, but historians will look back to the invasion of Iraq and the continued occupation of Afghanistan as massive contributing factors.

So, whatever.  Celebrate and have a good time, but the wars will go on, the 4th amendment is still a dead letter, the 1st amendment is on life support, the economy is in the toilet, gas is over$4 a gallon, Democrats and Republicans are still negotiating how fast to cut your SS and Medicare, unions are still being gutted, schools are still being turned into profit centers, and TSA agents will still touch your junk.


On the NDP Surge in Canada


The Canadian Election


  1. Celsius 233

    A little late eh? The terrorists won a little less than 10 years ago. They forever destroyed the U.S. It was so damned easy to boot.
    So, what’s all the damned crowing about?

  2. Sam Adams

    Its a monument in the Roman Forum with a Triumph march through the city. All hail Ceasar.

  3. Lisa Simeone

    The triumphalism and high-fiving going on all over the place, even supposedly lefty blogs, is sickening. The stupidity and blindness of this country know no bounds.

  4. Morocco Bama

    Plutocratic Diabetics with failing Kidneys on Dialysis said to be willing to pay top dollar to OBL’s physician for performing the miracle of keeping him alive for so long. If he could keep OBL alive that long, perhaps they could keep me (Plutocrat) alive even longer. Hopefully, for the same ends.

  5. Morocco Bama

    Oh boy, get out of Europe now, why you have the chance. The Intelligence Services have another False Flag in the offing and this one will make 911 look like small potatoes. Good thing you’re back from London, Ian. Otherwise, you would have been delivering a glowing report. Of course, isn’t Fukushima a “Nuclear Hellstorm” in and of itself. No need for al Qaeda when you have General Electric and Siemens.

    Shortly after 9/11, Al Qaeda had warned to set off a “nuclear hellstorm” if Osama bin Laden is ever captured or killed, according to U.S. government documents that were leaked just last month by Wikileaks.

    Wikileaks’ files show that al Qaeda’s senior leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was detained and interrogated, had spilled the beans that the terrorist group had, indeed, hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe and that it would be detonated if Osama bin Laden is captured or killed.

  6. Lisa Simeone

    Except that KSM was destroyed by torture, so we can’t believe anything he said. He “spilled the beans” about all sorts of things his torturers wanted to hear.

    That said, I wouldn’t put any false flag operation past our overlords.

  7. Ghostwheel

    Our government, especially the military-intelligence wing, has zero credits for trustworthiness.

    Who’s to say this isn’t some kind of PsyOp, like the staged Jessica Lynch rescue or the orchestrated toppling of Saddam’s statue? Then there’s lying about Pat Tillman’s pointless death from friendly fire and the infamous Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

    Now the Guardian UK newspaper is saying his body has been buried at sea. How convenient.

  8. Morocco Bama

    Yeah, that post was somewhat tongue in cheek, Lisa, although like you, I wouldn’t put it by them. Afterall, it’s how Civilization works…..a few must die, or be sacrificed, so that many may live.

    What’s of note is that that story resurfaced last week before this happened. That’s a bit odd, wouldn’t you say? Sure enough, Intelligence Services knew this was going down, real, or not, yet they take the time to also plant and recirculate this story. Why? That’s the big question. Why?

  9. JustPlainDave

    Two quick points:

    1) Zawahiri is the strategist and the far more operational of the two. The interpretive lens for points one and four should focus on him, not ObL.

    2) The most important thing it changes: the floor of support for continued engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq will collapse.

    As always, in American political discourse dealing with national security, the most important things are constructed rather than real. Simple reason – most of those talking about it have little to no idea what they’re talking about. Look for that to continue.

  10. Jeff Wegerson

    <b<Live (more or less) blogging the results tonight?

    Or maybe you could point us to some places with some reasonable blow by blow?

  11. David Kowalski

    Bush I got a quickie victory in Iraq in the Gulf War which literally cost us no money (we made a profit). Bush I zoomed up in the polls but was taken down by an economy that was much, much better than the current economy for the bottom 95%. Yes, indeed, this dows not insure victory in 2012.

    The Republican led austerity programs at the federal, state, and local levels are already squeezing growth out of the economy. Obama, like Bush I, will get the blame. Obama and the bots may look down dismissively at FDR but he engineered 8.5% annual growth for 12 years and, unlike Obama, the growth was broad based with the rich get a smaller share than the rest of the country. That’s why he won an enormous victory in 1936. Obama, otoh, seems to be guiding the US into a European style economy (15% real unemployment on a semi-permanent basis) without a European style safety net. Indeed the $#%^&# seems to be bound and determined to destroy the lesser safety net that we have, And unlike W he seems to have a fair chance of doing it.

    The one military adventure which might alleviate oil price spikes (although slightly) would be to take out the Somali pirates. He’s not doing that so the insurance companies choke the life out of trade and we and our allies spend a fortune on naval protection on an on-going and continuing basis. I guess handling the 1,000 thugs in four villages is taboo because it will either be done by Moslem war lords or it will be done by US Marines and be racist TM.

    Obama was handed a shining moment to reduce the deficit at zero cost to the American public and like everything else except snark he pissed it away. The man has total disdain for everybody but the elite so I have total didain for Obama.

  12. Z

    I swear, you got to go crazy in this country to stay sane …

    Some of the ironies from last night:

    Eliminating the original impetus of the war on terror is now being justified by many of the talking heads to try to escalate the war on terror … “they are really going to come after us now”, “we got them on the ropes and now it’s time for the knock out punch”, idiocies etc. The u.s. gov’t only dwells on its triumphs so I wouldn’t doubt that this at least will be used to escalate drone attacks in the Arab world.

    The u.s. government forced revelers in dc last night to celebrate this great triumph of the land of the free IN CAGES (fenced off areas – “freedom” zones) … and revel in their “freedom” they did.

    If bin laden would have blasted the world trade center with all those wall street outfits today there certainly would be a lot less grieving in this country about it.

    Some other thoughts:

    bin laden may be dead, but he won. And, like Ian wrote, he was willing to die to win.

    How anyone can look at the totality of the situation and consider this a victory or a triumph is beyond me. First of all, it took the u.s. government 10 YEARS to get him and, through the wars … and the war on terror … that 911 was used to justify:, also the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and the destruction of many of our civil liberties that this country purported to stand for. And that won’t change.

    In regards to dumping bin laden’s body at sea:

    IMO, the primary reason that they dumped bin laden’s body in the sea is to give the Arab world an opportunity to believe that u.s. gov’t is full of shit … again. I believe that the u.s. government got him though, but it’s not like the Arabs don’t have many good reasons not to believe what they say. So, the body was dumped at sea … for no one to see … to diffuse any Arab unrest about bin laden’s killing during a very volatile time and therefore try to prevent a catapult point.

    And if you want to believe that bin laden is dead, you believe it … and if you don’t, you don’t. There’s no proof of it so you can believe anything that you want to. In fact, the u.s. government’s psy-ops guys are probably already laying seeds in the Arab street that bin Laden isn’t dead … that this is a campaign publicity stunt by obama or whatnot.

    And unless al-queda comes out and says that he is dead … and they may have some reason not to (not to give the u.s. a “victory”?) … then the most angriest Arabs will be the ones that are also the least likely to believe that bin Laden is dead.


  13. Dormaphaea

    There is an up-side.

    We won’t have to hear about Donald Trump for a day or so.

    (But srsly, thanks for putting into words precisely what I’m thinkin.’)

  14. anon2525

    What should not be forgotten at this time is that the original crime was compounded many times over by larger crimes. But only the original criminals have been held accountable.

    To argue by analogy, if a small group of men took over a shopping mall and killed a number of people there, and were still there threatening to kill more people, then the response ordered would be to call in the police, buy them lots of overwhelmingly powerful weapons, and hire lots of private military to assist. The men with guns would then start firing into the crowd, attempting to kill the original criminals. Of course, many children (innocent, but that’s redundant), women, and men would be killed, but that would not stop the men with guns from shooting into the crowd, and it would not cause those who had ordered this tactic to change their orders. As time went by, some of the innocent people who are in the crowd would use whatever weapons they could find to fire back at the men with guns, too, because they would be seeing that they were being killed by both sides. Eventually, the original criminals would be killed or captured.

    That’s where we are today. None of the men who ordered the tactic have been held responsible, nor have any of the men who carried out the orders.

  15. Ian Welsh

    Yes Dave, Zawahiri is part of why I said I didn’t think OBL’s death mattered all that much.

  16. I love it that they “buried Jessica Lynch’s body at sea”.

    Oops, typo: I meant “Bin Laden‘s body,” not “Jessica Lynch’s body.” Sorry, my bad. I guess the foil slipped out there…

  17. Morocco Bama

    And Lisa, Sir Charles boot licking of the Security Forces that allegedly bagged OBL is utterly nauseating.

  18. dandelion

    Bin Laden won way back in 2002 (?) when GWB quietly removed US troops from Saudi Arabia. That was always Bin Laden’s concrete demand: that the US military leave what Islam considers holy land: the Saudi Arabian desert lands of Mecca and Medina.

    This move was done quietly and without US reporters paying any attention whatsoever to what it truly was: the US acceding to terror’s demand.

    Iraq was what the US took in recompense.

  19. Hey Dave, so you’re saying that Zawahiri is the new Emmanuel Goldstein? Good to know.

  20. BC Nurse Prof

    So now murder=justice?

    Nuremberg Trials — Opening Statement of Sir Hartley Shawcross

    “And so we believe that this Tribunal, acting, as we know it will act notwithstanding its appointment by the victorious powers, with complete and judicial objectivity, will provide a contemporary touchstone and an authoritative and impartial record to which future historians may turn for truth, and future politicians for warning. From this record shall future generations know not only what our generation suffered, but also that our suffering was the result of crimes, crimes against the laws of peoples which the peoples of the world upheld and will continue in the future to uphold—to uphold by international co-operation, not based merely on military alliances, but grounded, and firmly grounded, in the rule of law.”

    MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: May it please Your Honors:

    “The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason. ….

    Unfortunately the nature of these crimes is such that both prosecution and judgment must be by victor nations over vanquished foes. The worldwide scope of the aggressions carried out by these men has left but few real neutrals. Either the victors must judge the vanquished or we must leave the defeated to judge themselves. After the first World War, we learned the futility of the latter course. The former high station of these defendants, the notoriety of their acts, and the adaptability of their conduct to provoke retaliation make it hard to distinguish between the demand for a just and measured retribution, and the unthinking cry for vengeance which arises from the anguish of war. It is our task, so far as humanly possible, to draw the line between the two. We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to our task that this Trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspirations to do justice. “

  21. Joe Beese

    As long as Obama’s drone bombers continue to mutilate the bodies of Muslim children, the bitch that bore bin Laden will remain in heat.

  22. Oh and Fallujah. I forgot how important that carnage was to getting Osama bin Laden.

    The bottom line is this: it wasn’t COIN, or invasion and occupation and the elimination of our civil liberties and the setting up of a gulag and torture that had an effing thing to do with bin Laden’s death. It was good old fashioned intelligence and counter-terrorism work by the CIA, USSOCOM and JSOC that pulled this off.

    In short: everything that pragmatic, realistic lefties called for since 9/12/2001.

    We were right all along. We had the right strategy all along.

  23. BC_Prof: Osama bin Laden wasn’t murdered. He was killed in a legitimate military action. I celebrate no man’s death, for in the words of John Done, that diminishes me. But his death was not illegal, or unethical, under international law or the customs of war or even police actions. It is sad and disgusting that his death is being celebrated the way it is. But his death was not illegal, not remotely, or unethical.

  24. Notorious P.A.T.

    Even if this does put some wind in Obama’s reelection sails, he’ll find some way to piss it away. He is a Democrat, after all.

  25. JustPlainDave

    If I was going to put it in terms of Emmanuel Goldstein at all, I’d say that the relevant question isn’t who the next one is but rather why it is that such flawed constructs repeatedly take root. My view, you need a better herbicide than the malarky pony.

  26. So the very real human verity, written about for centuries by writers, that men ‘need’ enemies is now a malarkey pony construct? Interesting.

  27. Joe Beese

    When Bush the First won his war on Iraq, he seemed like a shoo-in for re-election too. But it counted for nothing when the economy went sour.

    If real unemployment remains 20%, Obama is finished – no matter how many trophies he bags.

  28. lefthook

    Once again, Ian Welsh tells it like it is and no one else has the fucking grapes to do so. I have to disagree with you on one point, I really think this will give Obama a lot of political capital and pretty much ensures re-election. Never underestimate the emotional overload of taking down symbolic evil, especially in American culture. The killing of OBL is like a high budget action movie that is “easy” to understand for the average American. That and the fact that the Republican candidates are a sideshow of freaks means that Obama will be re-elected.

  29. Morocco Bama

    Sean believes we are hardwired for such nonsense. How very cynical and predictable of you to hold that position, Sean. And also, how convenient, because it so serves the purpose of a few.

    It is just a construct, Sean, and a powerful one at that. Humans aren’t born with it, they’re indoctrinated into it……because it makes for good slaves.

    The Occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq are in no way equal and are very much related, with the GWOT providing a duplicitous cover for resource control and exploitation. In that sense, OBL is also a construct….a fictitious perception, a necessary boogeyman, so in reality, his death is irrelevant and ludicrous, but in regards to perception, and what most are led to believe, assuming the whole charade of al Qaeda and OBL is real, it’s still neither legal nor ethical since the invasion/occupation campaigns are illegal and unethical and that’s the pretext under which this alleged assassination took place.

    By your logic, it would also be legal and ethical to execute all of DC since they are all directly complicit in War Crimes and thus are enemies of Humanity.

  30. JustPlainDave

    No, what I’m saying is that the degree to which ObL and like personalities have become highly constructed and amenable to manipulation is not effectively combatted by rhetoric of the malarky pony type, personally cathartic and entertaining though it may be.

  31. beowulf

    They should have gone for maximum cinematic value and had the Navy chum the waters of the Arabian Sea before tossing a tazed but otherwise unharmed Bin Laden at high noon off the deck, to the sharks below. That would have made for good television.

    A nighttime burial at sea… mehh, I’ve seen high school musicals with better production values. Even so, this is the perfect opportunity to declare victory and go home. Unfortunately our government treats every victory the same as every defeat, as an opportunity to double down.

  32. BC Nurse Prof

    Sean Paul:

    Did you see the link above to the comments by Chris Hedges?
    Did you go and read it? I could provide no better rebuttal to
    your answer to my post here.

  33. Celsius 233

    Morocco Bama PERMALINK
    May 2, 2011
    In that sense, OBL is also a construct….a fictitious perception, a necessary boogeyman, so in reality, his death is irrelevant and ludicrous, but in regards to perception, and what most are led to believe, assuming the whole charade of al Qaeda and OBL is real, it’s still neither legal nor ethical since the invasion/occupation campaigns are illegal and unethical and that’s the pretext under which this alleged assassination took place.
    Your comment resonates with my take on our present modus operandi.
    We’ve been at war so long our newest generation of youth thinks it’s normal and with the constant din of jingoistic rhetoric will be willing fodder for the institution of war.

  34. anon2525

    Even so, this is the perfect opportunity to declare victory and go home.

    That would defeat the purpose of private profits for private companies.

    – Weapons makers
    – Mercenaries
    – Service contracts

    And there are many officers who have “careers” that need to be considered.

    If victory is declared and contracts end, then where will the private companies get the money to feed the lobbyists? The poor, poor lobbyists. And without lobbyists paying bribes contributing to campaigns and writing legislation, how will elected “representatives” know how to vote? This would really mess up the sweet, sweet system they have built. After the Cold War ended they were hurting, but now they have found another “war.” And they hope to keep it running at least as long as the Cold War did (that was a pretty sweet deal, too).

  35. grs

    No one read the whole post?

    gas is over$4 a barrel

    Gas is a lot more than $4 a barrel. (I know what you mean, but I also know what you typed).

    And some of us look forward to TSA screeners touching our junk.

    But in all seriousness, yes, I agree. This event changes nothing since the act of occupying Afghanistan has become a hydra that we cannot slay without leaving more chaos then before we entered.

  36. grs

    *sigh* damn closing tags

  37. jcapan

    “In short: everything that pragmatic, realistic lefties called for since 9/12/2001.”

    What you’ve been calling for, as well as your take on this killing, may be many things, but it is not “left.”

  38. BC Prof: Yes, I read it. I don’t see how anything Hedges says is any much different than what I’ve said in the body of my writing over the last 10 years. I made it very clear, very, very clear that I am in no way celebrating the death of bin Laden. To dance on a man’s grave is to diminish me, as the poet said.

    Regardless, Hedges does not discuss the legality or even the ethics of bin Laden’s death. He doesn’t do it. He doesn’t pass judgement on it one way or another. He does, however, discuss the profound sadness he feels over the whole episode and the lost opportunities for human understanding and peace in the aftermath of 9/11 which we Americans pissed all over. In the last ten years I have traveled in close to a dozen Muslim nations. So I have seen, firsthand, what Hedges discusses.

    But none of that addresses or changes the fact that what happened to bin Laden was legal. And it wasn’t immoral or unethical, if, if, he was armed and fighting back. It is sad, and very regrettable. But not unethical, not immoral and definitely not murder.

    Morocco Bama:

    I really have no idea what you are trying to say. It’s a mish-mash of contradictions. Of course, I’m a cynic so you may need to give me the kindergarten version.

  39. Morocco Bama

    There’s not a single contradiction in anything I said, Sean, that’s merely your dismissive and flawed interpretation. On the other hand, you are quite clear to the point of transparency, I would say. I have found, in my metaphorical travels, that those who are quite clear/transparent, often have difficulty understanding any view but their clearly transparent one, and even then, they often don’t even understand their own view and the implications thereof.

  40. Morocco Bama: I bow to your superior morality.

  41. Ian Welsh

    Thanks GRS, corrected. That’s the problem with not having an editor, mistakes like that creep in. Appreciate those who catch them.

  42. Ghostwheel

    “And it wasn’t immoral or unethical, if, if, he was armed and fighting back. It is sad, and very regrettable. But not unethical, not immoral and definitely not murder.”

    Well, the official story has changed again—at least for the time being. Now it’s being said that he was unarmed when shot.

    Personally, I’m not going to believe any fable the CIA/Pentagon/White House tells me without any proof. Even if they’re telling the truth (doubtful), there’s no way for me to ever be convinced due to the evidence being disposed of Tony Soprano-style to the bottom of the sea.

    But let’s assume the official story is true. If he was unarmed, as the latest reports claim (at least for now), they could have captured him and had a public Nuremberg-style trial. There would be very little doubt as to his identity then.

    And of course in this case, shooting an unarmed man in the head really does enter the realm of unethical, immoral, and illegal. It also misses a golden opportunity to seal his identity and at least attempt to adhere to a higher standard of justice than what Barack Obama is currently celebrating.

    Still, it’s all moot to me. No body = no proof. No independent verification = CIA/Pentagon saying “Trust us.” Well, no, not me, I’ll pass.

  43. The story has changed. The facts have changed, which forces a reconsideration of the legality of his death. And it does not redound to Obama’s benefit with the fact that several people in the Administration have confirmed that Osama was unarmed. Someone in defense said, he was engaged in the firefight, resisting. How is that? Did he throw his shoes? I find this exceptionally troubling.

    Why was he not brought to trial? Everyone agrees the Nazis were monsters, but even they got trials. If, as it now appears, Osama was murdered in cold blood, well, this is just one more stain on our eternal reputation.

  44. anon2525

    I find this exceptionally troubling.

    More troubling than the killing of hundreds of thousands of children, women, and men?

  45. anon2525

    Imagine if the killings of the past decade had taken place in a single day, in a single event–one attack that killed hundreds of thousands of people, but which also killed the leadership of al qaeda. Same result, different time span. Would there still be the celebrating and smiling?

    The end (killing the leadership of al qaeda) has not justified the means (killing hundreds of thousands of children, women, and men; eliminating the rule of law in the u.s., and adding an enormous amount of debt).

  46. I don’t feed trolls.

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