We have finally killed our Frankenstein Monster. Ossama bin Ladin is dead and American people are dancing in the streets with joy. All the righteous citizens who were convinced by the Neocons that the destruction of the World Trade Center was the worst atrocity to ever happen in human history because it happened to us can now feel vindicated.
The problem is that when evil begets evil it only leads to more evil. Ossama bin Ladin was our own evil creation. From the late 70’s until 1989 the U.S. conducted a covert war against the Soviet Union by training and financing a civil war against the ruling Afghan government which was backed by 100,000 Soviet troops.
This war killed between 600,000 and two million mostly civilian Afghans. Because U.S. involvement was never publicly acknowledged, when the Soviets finally withdrew the U.S. chose not to step in and organize a democratic government. Instead they allowed the nation to descend into a lawless battle between tribal factions each supported by nations such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, each of which had ideological and political agendas.
Between 1994 and 2000, with the support of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the Taliban increased its domination of the other factions. Reports say as much as 40% of Taliban troops were from the Pakistani army. From 1996 to 2001 Ossama bin Ladin was able to establish Al Queda in Afghanistan having advanced from a CIA trained foot soldier to the leader of his own Taliban allied organization.
United States involvement in Afghanistan is just one of the many ways in which we have allowed and encouraged violence and oppression of people in the Middle East in pursuit of our own objectives. Saddam Husien was another U.S. creation and was considered an American ally, even while he was using poison gas on the Kurdish citizens of Iraq. It was only when his plans for Iraqi oil supplies began to conflict with the U.S. agenda that he become an enemy.
Yes, ding dong the witch is dead. The wicked witch is dead. However, Al Queda still exists and, even now, among it’s younger recruits, the new organizations that will one day succeed it are in their embryonic stages. Certainly, hatred of the U.S., not of our “freedom” but of our selfish and self-righteous meddling in the affairs of other nations, and too often at the expense of those who live there, is absolutely not dead. It lives on burning like a red-hot coal in the breast of our victims.
Terrorism is the desperate act of those who are otherwise powerless. Suicide missions are the last act of the hopeless. For the most part American citizens are too blinded by narcissistic patriotism to see that. The one strength that terrorism possesses is that traditional military actions are largely ineffectual against it.
The success of terrorism is not measured in body counts, or successful engagements. Terrorism triumphs by dragging it’s enemy down to it’s own level. Since the fateful morning on September 11, 2001, the American public has been bleeding from a wound of paranoia and fear. The death of bin Laden has not cauterized that wound. If you have any doubt, visit your local airport and view the security gates that there are no plans to dismantle any time soon.
At best this small “victory” is nothing more than an opiate to dull the pain of our fear and vulnerability. The next strike, and there will be a next strike, will cut all that much deeper if we have collectively allowed ourselves the momentary illusion that we have accomplished anything of real importance by eliminating bin Laden.
To be clear, Ossama bin Laden was a dangerous evil man who deserved to die as much as anyone could. However, winning the “War on Terror” will require not strength and firepower, but dealing honestly and with integrity with the people of the Middle East. As long as oil is absolutely necessary to the survival of our way of life, treating the people who supply it as equals is the very last thing we are willing to do. On the other hand, hatred, fear, and terrorism are the price we will continue to pay as long as they are dismissed as mere pawns standing in the way of our self-serving foreign policy.