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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hollow Victory

It feels odd to see the news services reporting the killing of Osama Bin Laden as if it is now an accomplished fact.

I remember the many reports that kept coming out in the several years immediately after 9/11, during the constant scouring of the territory along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan by American special teams, the regular military, the CIA, and other forces, looking for Osama Bin Laden, not at all to hear what he had to say, but to kill him, outright and quickly.

I thought that would be a mistake in more than one way. One was that it would help to leave open the feeling that some people would always have that 9/11 involved some sort of collusion between the GWBush administration and the terrorists, because otherwise there was no way to explain how those two massive towers should have melted down like that,as if they had been made of no more than vanilla ice cream, no matter how much jet fuel those planes had onboard.

And coupled with that was the way that 9/11 instantly and permanently strengthened the hand of the administration, with its anti-terrorism measures after the fact, when till then it had been stumbling.

Also Bin Laden alive might have been able to furnish an insight or two on terrorist thinking, which might have helped in easing the conditions that cause those attacks by Middle East fanatics.

After 9/11 there was an impression of a lot of blasts of all kinds in those hills, shot through with speculations as to whether, as a result of these actions, Bin Laden was still alive. But the general gist was that he had probably been zapped somewhere, somehow, maybe sealed up in a cave in Bora-Bora or some place like that with a name much like that of an island paradise in the South Pacific.

It didn't seem possible that a man whose great height alone, plus having some sort of severe liver ailment that promised to take him out shortly anyway if he didn't get on a dialysis machine soon, could survive being hunted with the help of all sorts of new technology of the kind so prominently featured in the long-running TV series, "24," including the increasing use of drones in the later years of both the show and Bin Laden. Yet, as time continued to go on after all those hopeful reports of his possible death, gradually things changed and he began to be spoken of as if he was indeed still alive.

Now it is reported that he was really killed a couple of days ago, by U.S. forces during a firefight at a mansion near Islamabad, which is deep inside Pakistan, instead of in those border areas where he was usually thought to be hiding, and one report said that the U.S. has his body.

If true, what are they going to do with it? Stand it up inside a wooden coffin with the lid off, outside a saloon, as was sometimes done in the Wild West?

In those years right after 9/11, I used to wonder what was the use of being so avid about hunting him down, and what would they have when they finally accomplished it? Wouldn't it be better if a larger share of those efforts were devoted to less collaboration with all those family tyrants that are so much a characteristic of the Arab world (and now are finally having trouble holding on, thanks to the Arabs themselves)?

Meanwhile I thought that nothing that could be done to Bin Laden, whether living or dead, could take away from his victory. This is a very sad thing to think but it's not by any means unprecedented. That victory was complete with the fall to the ground of the final pieces of the World Trade towers. More irreparable damage had been done than he or anyone else could ever have envisioned, despite his lying claims that he had foreseen it all. And that victory was compounded by the fact that he was allotted nearly ten more years to live, during which he was free to see how his efforts were aided and abetted by the draconian measures that were set up to combat terrorism by such means as Guantanamo Bay, the Patriot Act, putting all airline riders in the category of potential criminals.and the general bogging down of American forces all across a big and chronically violent belt in the Middle East -- all of which served to damage the U.S. even more, in the sense of making the U.S. much less of the freer, easier, and more trustful place that it had formerly been, even when the obscene strictures of Jim Crow had still been in place.

It all has to do with the line between vengeance and justice, always blurred but now non-existent, even, it seems to me in these resentful times, in all the courts of the land, though we will still hear people, even the American President, gloating that in Bin Laden's case at least, justice has been served.

But what is justice?

The meaning has been lost, maybe for centuries. Maybe it always existed only as a dress-up word for punishment, to keep the punishers looking good.

I just know that this looks a lot more like at last wreaking some long-desired revenge, pure and simple, though you won't hear many people admitting that. But like most acts of revenge, it will be hollow, because all the damage has been done, and nothing can reverse it. And what's worse in this case is that the anti-terrorism fever figures to carry on indefinitely and wreak ever more damage, while putting severe constraints on the lives of millions throughout the world.

And all wrought not by Bin Laden or by his successors but by people who in the name of anti-terrorism are certain that their efforts are all for the good, and who have never heard the ancient injunction -- or, if they've heard of it, they scoff at the saying -- which goes, "for one act of revenge, dig two graves."


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