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Mark Weisbrot of the Guardian newspaper in the UK has published a perspective, Osama bin Laden, cold war veteran, May 3, 2011, on America's war against bin Laden...the War on Terror...and indeed how it was transformed or at least perceived by Muslim nations as a war on Islam. Wiesbrot states that bin Laden's goal "was not to bring down the US empire." Rather,
"His specific goal was to transform the struggle between the United States and popular aspirations in the Muslim world into a war against Islam, or at least create the impression for many millions of people that this was the case. As we look around the world 10 years after the attack, we can see that he had considerable success in this goal. The United States is occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, bombing Pakistan and Libya, and threatening Iran – all Muslim countries. To a huge part of the Muslim world, it looks like the United States is carrying out a modern-day crusade against them, despite President Obama's assertions to contrary Sunday night.
"This situation, along with the United States' continued role of supporting the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, pretty much guarantees a steady stream of recruits for any terrorist movement of the kind bin Laden was organising, for the foreseeable future. In that sense, bin Laden was successful."
Weisbrot further points out that an ideological void was left after America's "war against communism" died out in the 1980s, and for the decade of the 1990s, military interventions had to be done on an ad hoc basis, "but this is a weak basis for mobilising public opinion, and, in general, Americans have to be convinced that their own security is at stake in order to acquiesce to most sustained military adventures."
Then 9/11 changed all that, and the military-industrial machine was re-energized with public support. However, "ironically the killing of bin Laden confirms what the left has maintained since 2001: that the occupation of Afghanistan was not necessary or justified in order to go after bin Laden. The killing of bin Laden was mainly an intelligence operation – the US did not have to invade or occupy Pakistan in order to carry it out. The same would have been true while he was in Afghanistan."
Indeed as I watched military experts on the various TV news shows yesterday laud the skills of the Navy Seals who undertook the mission, some alluded to the fact that this is the type of military intervention that we might expect more of in the future...quick tactical strikes by highly skilled small forces backed up by a concerted intelligence network.
Weisbrot's assessment of our war on terror and how we have mobilized giant armies against it rings true. But as I have said in other posts, I also believe the the path to peace in the Middle East begins in Gaza and the many Palestinian refugee camps where millions of Palestinians have known no other home. Until the West is willing to address that problem seriously instead of superficially, those camps will forever be a breeding ground for more terrorism.