Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Bin Laden in hiding

So bin Laden wasn't hiding in a cave after all. Who would have thought that?

Well quite a few people actually because a cave is not a particularly good place for a person needing daily medical treatment to hide. Bin Laden's kidney failure meant that he needed dialysis. That is difficult to perform in a cave and would require a constant flow of medical supplies.

Hiding in plain sight was probably Bin Laden's best option.

Why choose a military town? Well where else could you construct a fortified building without attracting attention?

Bin Laden's security precautions would be quite unusual by US suburban standards. But not so much in a garrison town close to Afghanistan and Kashmir. A lot of the buildings in the area have high walls to stop eyes looking at the womenfolk. The builders would not have known that they were building screens to hide a man rather than a woman.

Bin Laden also appears to have been pretty disciplined in keeping a low profile. He kept his personal contact with the outside world to the absolute minimum compatible with still maintaining some influence in Al Qaeda.

While he was bricked up in his hideout, Bin Laden was relatively safe. But being bricked up also meant that he could not recruit, plan or train. Some are claiming that this means that eliminating Bin Laden will have minimal impact on the ability of Al Qaeda to act and that the 'war on terror' is therefore going to continue.

This is a complete misreading of the situation in my view. Bin Laden was irrelevant to Al Qaeda's operations because there haven't been any since 9/11. Terrorist movements splinter and fracture constantly. The original goal of 9/11 was to get other jihadists to unite around Bin Laden's banner. If Al Qaeda exists in any meaningful sense it has been run by someone else for the past five years. Most likely Al Zawahiri. But I suspect that it is more than likely that when Zawahiri is eliminated he will be found in similar circumstances.

The attacks attributed to 'Al Qaeda' since 9/11 have all been planned and executed without any contribution from Bin Laden's organization. Some of the participants have ties to people who run in the same circles, but thats all. That is not a 'franchise', thats not a 'subsidiary', thats another group co-opting a brand that has already gained recognition.

Eliminating Bin Laden is a major blow in the 'War on Terror' because the whole concept was absurd and counterproductive. Bin Laden wanted to be taken seriously as an enemy. He wanted to be treated as an equal. And Bush and his administration obliged. Now they are claiming the credit for the elimination of Bin Laden, the Arab awakening in North Africa and everything else that is positive that has occurred since Obama took office. Not surprisingly there is not one thing that occurred during their watch that they have accepted blame for.

Bush's claim to have inspired the Arab awakening are as absurd as Bin Laden's. His goal was to perpetuate and extend US control of the region at any cost. He was entirely indifferent to the interests of the people living there and to the number of deaths he caused to achieve his goal.

Bin Laden did at least recognize that the region is ruled by regimes that are unrepresentative, brutal and corrupt. But his ultimate objective was of course to replace those regimes with one that would have no representation, be even more brutal and make the corruption absolute. Very few of the protesters in Egypt were calling for Bin Laden's vision of the future. Bin Laden's position provided Bush with convenient cover for his own. Opposition to the corrupt dictatorships of the region was automatically equated with support for Bin Laden's caliphate.

The removal of Bin Laden alone might not have ended the 'War on Terror', but it does give Obama the credibility to address this issue on his own terms without constant interference from the Republican party.

The removal of Bin Laden in combination with the events of the Arab Awakening have the potential to transform the region completely. Without the bogeyman Bin Laden, the dictators and despots are going to find it much harder to resist change.


Anonymous said...

I suspect that American is playing fool on us. Maybe US have killed Ladin and hide it for while as we know that the US general election is coming soon. Maybe this is use for Obama using this to get presidental for next general election. just me 2cent thought

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