May 03, 2011

Hitchens & Rushdie & O'Reilly

I've been imbibing too much news coverage which, of course, is all bin Laden, all the time, hence concerning this blog bin Laden in, bin Laden out. The surprising thing, to me at least, was that he was found in a compound with 12-foot walls. Seems like that might stick out on satellite photos like Prince Fielder at the royal wedding.

Christopher Hitchens, who no doubt feels glad that he lived to see Osama killed, writes of our "ally":
If you tell me that you are staying in a rather nice walled compound in Abbottabad, I can tell you in return that you are the honored guest of a military establishment that annually consumes several billion dollars of American aid. It's the sheer blatancy of it that catches the breath.

There's perhaps some slight satisfaction to be gained from this smoking-gun proof of official Pakistani complicity with al-Qaida, but in general it only underlines the sense of anticlimax. After all, who did not know that the United States was lavishly feeding the same hands that fed Bin Laden? There's some minor triumph, also, in the confirmation that our old enemy was not a heroic guerrilla fighter but the pampered client of a corrupt and vicious oligarchy that runs a failed and rogue state.
If we were played for a fool there's the fact that we played them in crossing into their territory to get him. Salman Rushdie chimes in:
Many of us didn’t believe in the image of bin Laden as a wandering Old Man of the Mountains, living on plants and insects in an inhospitable cave somewhere on the porous Pakistan-Afghan border. An extremely big man, 6-foot 4-inches tall in a country where the average male height is around 5-foot 8, wandering around unnoticed for ten years while half the satellites above the earth were looking for him? It didn’t make sense. Bin Laden was born filthy rich and died in a rich man’s house, which he had painstakingly built to the highest specifications. The U.S. administration confesses it was “shocked” by the elaborate nature of the compound.

We had heard—I certainly had, from more than one Pakistani journalist—that Mullah Omar was (is) being protected in a safe house run by the powerful and feared Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) somewhere in the vicinity of the city of Quetta in Baluchistan, and it seemed likely that bin Laden, too, would acquire a home of his own.

In the aftermath of the raid on Abbottabad, the old flim-flam (“Who, us? We knew nothing!”) just isn’t going to wash.
Bill O'Reilly points out the Muslim problem:
Yet [bin Laden] still gets some sympathy in the Muslim world, and that's what I mean when I tell you there is a Muslim problem. A few countries like Saudi Arabia have applauded the U.S. action, but most Muslim countries are silent. If there was not a Muslim problem in the world, every responsible Muslim leader would have called to congratulate President Obama. Would they not? "Talking Points" would like to know exactly how many calls the president has received from Muslim leaders worldwide.
Indeed, there's an acid test for you. If you can't be pleased about removing the threat of bin Laden, then...?

Meanwhile libertarian Lew Rockwell has a snarky piece on Osama. He sounds too conspiratorial/cynical for my taste (did the moon-landing happen?) He's also a bit disingenuous in stating the whole operation was about getting Osama; we've also killed countless Al Quaeda operational types along the way and have mostly disabled them (hence the lack of attacks on US soil). I think if any war is justified, then the war on Al Quaeda and Osama is/was, but Afghanistan is a joke (there are only a couple dozen Al Qaeda there now) and Iraq a tragic boondoggle. On the making of enemies, history teaches that powerful countries make enemies just by being powerful. Envy is alive and well. Concerning bin Laden, unless pacifism is true, then justice seems a reasonably noble venture in its own right.

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