TIME TO MOVE ON
It was very good news to hear that U.S. Joint Special Operations Command forces killed Osama Bin Laden (OBL) in his exclusive Pakistani retirement compound this past weekend. It came just under 10 years after the 9/11/01 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC.
Congratulations are due to the many anonymous U.S. servicemen and intelligence personnel who patiently carried out this long, difficult and successful mission, and to President Obama for his leadership in the entire endeavor. It was long-overdue, genuinely surprising, and a great relief to many people. Now we must move on.
Well before and definitely since 9/11/01, OBL was an international pariah and the spiritual leader of a loose global group of nihilistic Muslim terrorists who wanted to impose religious theocracies across the globe and rid the Mideast of U.S. and Israeli military forces. OBL inherited a modest fortune from his wealthy Saudi father. He decided to use his money and leadership skills to advocate the killing of thousands of innocent people – including Muslims – who happened to disagree with his ideas. He was a very savvy, nasty, determined, and an evil character with serious intellectual and emotional personality disorders. His world-view was regressive socially and spiritually – and it really belonged in the 15th Century. He simply couldn’t move on.
This year’s “Arab Spring” where a number of failed, corrupt, despotic regimes in the Middle East have been replaced or challenged by millions of young citizens is clear proof that OBL has been intellectually and religiously eclipsed and marginalized by the very people he tried to recruit to his beliefs. The Koran builds upon the ethical and moral teachings of the Torah and New Testament. It is fully compatible with democracy. However it must be merged with democracy by the people in each country. It cannot be imposed by a domestic minority or by any external power.
Our nation’s long support for such despotic regimes unnecessarily fueled widespread anti-Americanism. People everywhere expect their governments to rule on behalf of the majority without resorting to corruption, greed and favoritism for a few at the expense of the many. No nation can long exist if it pursues such warped priorities. It is a positive sign that people are moving away from despotism which will require patience for this long process to succeed.
Perhaps the only positive result of the Iraqi invasion and occupation was to give courage to many in the Muslim world that they could actually overthrow their own corrupt regimes without outside assistance. The defining point in each nation came when the Military decided not to fire upon its own citizens. In a few places, despots have refused and outside limited assistance would be welcomed and warranted. However our military’s over-extension around the globe has made such selective operations very difficult.
Some commentators anguished about celebrating the death of OBL. I didn’t and I am quite pleased. There have always been select individuals in human history whose evil acts towards so many people so outweigh anything good they might have produced that there should be some satisfaction, relief and even joy when they leave this world. Those who might mourn his death or refuse natural human schadenfreude are either his deluded and sick followers or sanctimonious hypocrites. Let’s move on and permit God to make the final judgment.
OBL exposed some nasty, angry, fearful and irrational tendencies in Americans and in our leaders. He did not succeed in his overall global mission – nor in his dream to destroy the U.S. However he sensed that we would over-react to his one big attack on U.S. soil. We went far beyond just hunting him down and the majority of his nasty cohorts. We significantly changed the way we lived, treated ourselves and outsiders, and warped and debased our constitutional protections and justice system. We started two misguided and costly wars for insufficiently compelling reasons. We literally spent over a trillion dollars of our nation’s wealth and borrowing power to pursue this individual. I hope we learned something about the need for measured and intelligent responses to insane acts. OBL may finally be dead but we have yet to finish paying the bills. So let’s move on and admit we seriously harmed ourselves in this process.
The U.S. did get several monkeys off its back with respect to our military power and global imperialism. Since World War II, we have not seen a clear victory or conclusion to any of our military interventions around the world, despite our huge budgetary expenditures and having the best-trained troops and equipment of any nation by far. We cannot occupy other nations and create new functioning societies – yet alone reliable allied to our interests.
Global conflicts today and for the future required precise, limited, and intelligent interventions. They are best effectuated by quick use of a small strike-force that is well-coordinated with top intelligence and technology. We do well with clearly identifiable targets, parameters and short time-frames. The 40-minute raid on OBL’s suburban Islamabad compound achieved so many goals at once that the years of occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq have failed to achieve – and will never achieve. It’s time to realize our real global national interests and the limitations of our military forces – and move on.
Psychologically and strategically, we should be pleased that the founder and spiritual mentor for many terrorists has finally met his match. Even his well-fortified and secretive compound was ultimately a mirage and of no use against the U.S. America can now impart on the world and other would-be violent adversaries – there is no place on earth you can hide forever and with exceptional and superior troops, intelligence and military equipment, we’ll hunt you down much faster and without wasting time on large ground wars. So let’s move on to focusing on the real challenges we face domestically and internationally.
OBL was not interested in being taken alive so death was his only option. We cannot forever debate the possible virtue of bringing him back alive for some trial under our justice system or some international tribunal. Our only justice and measure of retribution for all the harm OBL inflicted on so many people was his death. So let’s move on to many far better things to debate.
There will be supporters of OBL who may carry out attacks in the future and claim they were in retribution for his death – even though they were simply part of their terrorist fantasies and had been in planning for years. This particular group of frustrated, delusional and nasty people will be around for many years to come.
However building and maintaining excessively onerous and expensive security systems throughout our society is just not worth the tradeoff in lost freedoms. There are many much larger risks and threats – natural and man-made – that should be at the forefront of our national attention.
There is a whole cohort of perpetually outraged and aggrieved peopled around the globe who claim to speak for various larger groups. They are never people who must struggle to feed and support themselves and their families. These quasi-intellectuals of various political, social and religious views are perpetually upset by every minor slight, mistake, and perceived offense – ignoring human nature and the reality of a rough-and-tumble world. They constantly over-react and are incensed, take umbrage, and demand false apologies and huge compensation, simply to justify their myopic worldview, moronic antics and extreme sensitivities.
Other groups of reality-deniers and believers of vast global conspiracies will also spew forth their stupid venom over the next few years because they don’t have real jobs and rational priorities. Our advancements in technology are employed by them to attack reality since the possibility of mixing and creating alternate realities is now possible. Therefore we can no longer trust anyone or anything to provide any provable and objective reality. This self-serving and specious circular argument simply swallows itself and it many advocates.
The watery disposition of OBL’s body, the photos and autopsy by U.S. officials, the following of strict Muslim procedures and sensitivities, and a whole host of other fabricated complaints surrounding his life and death will persist in perpetuity and ad nauseum. Those people really have to move on – but unfortunately many won’t. But at least the majority of us will move on because we have more sane priorities to address.
Pakistan has proven to be a completely unreliable U.S. ally, but it is no surprise because it is such a dysfunctional, corrupt, uneducated and poor nation governed by a military oligarchy. Even though Pakistanis are ethnically, culturally and historically related to their 1.2 billion neighbors in India, the founders of Pakistan believed that a separate nation founded on religious zealotry after the British occupation of the sub-continent ended in 1948 was the best choice. It has proven to be a very bad one from the perspective of the past 60 years.
India has far more Muslims within its borders and manages to move slowly toward modernity, maintains religious diversity despite natural human animosities, and is far more educated and a relatively peaceful member of the international community. Pakistan is a completely failed state that harbored a mass murderer for 6 years. What the U.S. should do with its broken and expensive Pakistani relationship is anyone’s guess but continuing the status quo would be pointless. We have to move on to something that serves U.S. interests better.
Our continuing military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq must be questioned in light of the death of OBL in Pakistan. We cannot dictate the internal affairs of other nations and people without paying a huge price in human lives and public treasury. Old military and political methods better suited to winning World War II are no longer viable for the 21st Century.
Unfortunately our nation is financially, economically, socially and politically in serious stagnation, paralysis, gridlock and decline. These were not imposed by any external forces but by our own short-sightedness, greed, hubris, ignorance, corruption and laziness. The search for OBL and his death do not alter these far greater threats to our nation.
Our nation is still beset by poorly conceived national spending and taxing priorities; tens of millions of people unemployed and under-employed; an utter lack of competent regulation of our corrupt business and financial sectors; growing income and wealth inequalities that are destroying our representational democracy through bribery of our elected officials by large corporations and our wealthiest citizens; decades of not adequately investing in our transportation, communication, energy and educational infrastructures; and an utter failure by our nation’s political and business leaders to face reality or even tell us all the facts. The complete list of national challenges is much longer so we must quickly move on from this minor victory to the greater battles that lie ahead.
We have to honestly address our excessive and wasteful dependence on limited foreign oil reserves for well over half of our internal transportation energy needs. Our domestic reserves are simply too small and far too expensive to provide a complete alternative to investing in new energy sources.
We should be taxing all barrels of imported oil and gasoline at the pump to accurately reflect the externalities our oil addiction costs us – principally to recover the $1 trillion we wasted in our global war on terror and futile attempts to secure new foreign oil sources over the past 10 years. I laugh at anyone who complains about $4 per gallon gasoline prices – they really should be $10 per gallon to pay for our many directly-related and short-sighted national policies of the past 20 to 30 years. So please stop your petty and childish whining; it’s not President Obama’s fault; fork over the money; and let’s move on.
Perhaps the death of Osama Bin Laden might permit our citizenry and leadership to re-direct our collective attention towards the major challenges facing our nation. This should be an opportunity to reflect on and learn from everything we have done wrong over the past 10 years. However, this might be difficult for our world empire that is in serious denial of our continuing decline. We might sadly prefer continuing our endless fact-free, angry, emotional and ideologically-bankrupt wars between the many divided factions inhabiting our nation. It is not easy to break old bad habits and instead calmly and intelligently engage in a civil conversation on where we want to take our nation in the 21st Century.
We have to put this long sideshow called the massive hunt and final humiliating and deserved demise of OBL into proper perspective. It should not define our nation or our history on this planet. But the question remains: will we move on?
Submitted on 5/3/11 by Marc Pascal ranting from Phoenix, Arizona. I waited to compose this rant after reading so many excellent posts on TMV by co-bloggers and from elsewhere on the Internet. I’m not a journalist by profession so I am not driven to be the first to say something on every subject or major news event. I prefer to let a sufficient time to pass before assembling my thoughts. If I have rewritten some good ideas from other writers – I apologize and welcome TMV readers and commentators to provide links to the original sources.