Home > Economics - General > Crooked Timber on OBL obit

Crooked Timber on OBL obit

May 2nd, 2011

“It sure seems like Obama’s job as secret Muslim operative imposing Sharia law on the US just got a whole lot harder.”

We probably should have an open thread on Bin Laden’s death. Consider this that thread.

Categories: Economics - General Tags:
  1. Freelander
    May 2nd, 2011 at 15:40 | #1

    Death, or should I say ‘retirement’, of a former CIA asset.

  2. Alice
    May 2nd, 2011 at 16:22 | #2

    My students told me about this today in class (some of those googlegens on their net phones under the desk when they are supposed to be listening) and they said ” The US has killed Osama Bin Laden in a palace along with members of his family.” I said serious?
    They said “yes – he was killed in a palace along with members of his family.”
    I said “you lot are mixed up unless Osama was staying at Gaddafis palace”.

  3. Jim Birch
    May 2nd, 2011 at 16:42 | #3

    I’m guessing to some extent, but from what I’ve read it seems to me that OBL was pretty much in retirement already. The AQ “leadership” have been pretty much in run-and-hide mode for some time. I suppose they were hatching some scary plans, but they seem to be pretty crippled operationally.

    I think this is more of a moral victory to the US than a strategic one. Obviously, this isn’t the end of Islamic terrorism because there still plenty of people out there committed to the program but I guess it’s winding down, due as much to natural causes as anything. Despite a few spectacular “successes” they’re not one step closer to AQ’s grandiose objective of establishing a unified Islamic state in the ME. The more realistic – and secular – goal of replacing individual autocracies with representative governments has now captured the Arab political imagination.

  4. baz
    May 2nd, 2011 at 17:03 | #4

    Osama dead – how good is that ? Go the yanks!!

  5. Hermit
    May 2nd, 2011 at 17:09 | #5

    If the US have wasted some poor innocuous bugger with a scraggly beard will they admit it? If OBL was on dialysis five years ago then got typhoid he was lucky to make this far. Either way he was a sick old man not someone who could fight back.

    I find it slightly creepy the way Americans need to celebrate. This week they missed the hit on Gaddafi, lost 350 people to tornadoes and the US dollar tanked. Surely the US has bigger problems.

  6. Alice
    May 2nd, 2011 at 17:56 | #6

    I rather wonder why it took George Bush and a great incursion into Iraq and many years of misery to many innocent Iraqis, to actually not find Bin Laden. Was that an accident? Forgive me for being so cynical about the Bush clan (and history suggests needed) but we wouldnt know what deals they were really doing. And was Bush more after an excuse to go after Hussein, than to hunt Bin Laden?
    It didnt take Obama long to get him.

  7. May 2nd, 2011 at 19:27 | #7

    So this assassination is “cathartic for the USA” or “provides closure to victims of 9/11”? -Meh! Pathetic media coverage!!
    What would be cathartic or provide closure for the victims of the First 9/11 in 1973 in Chile?
    Or for the victims in East Timor?
    Or for David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib?
    And what about the Aboriginal/Indigenous peoples? !?!
    Perspective pleeeease!
    Ex-CIA assets being retired, and more of the same: white people political games.
    Little more than good news for Obama’s re-election… Let’s bring all the TROOPS HOME!

  8. Freelander
    May 2nd, 2011 at 19:50 | #8

    The best would have been for him to stand trial in a real court of law.

    9/11 was a tragedy. The reaction to it has been a greater tragedy. And the failure to seriously analyse what led up to 9/11 another tragedy.

    There is futility spending considerable though on what people like Osama bin Laden ought to have done and not done, but there is plenty of scope for us in the West to consider what we should have done and not done to create situations where such hatreds flourish. And importantly, what we should do in the future. It is what we do that we have the most control over.

    Now is a time our leaders ought to be trying to be statesman-like. A good start would be to preface remarks by not celebrating the death of any human, even an Osama bin Laden. More statesman-like, even if they were only to fake it, would be to regret his death and regret that he was not captured alive to face trial.

    Not only would that be the right thing to do. Statesman-like behaviour, although it would not pander to their electorates, would have, to some extent, reduced the likelihood of retaliation.

  9. Freelander
    May 2nd, 2011 at 19:55 | #9

    On a lighter note, if he’d done a death bed conversion, two miracles and the pope could make him a Saint!

  10. Alice
    May 2nd, 2011 at 22:02 | #10

    Lets just hope that Obama and the US judiciary show the same determination to put away some of the criminals who played a role in the collapse of Wall Street and forced taxpayers street to bail them out, and maybe some of the top economists who sat on their hands and idly abrogated all repsonsibility for prudential supervision because they need to be hung out the window as well.

    Maybe the CIA and the defence force might be a little harsh but jail for a long time certainly isnt.

  11. Ikonoclast
    May 2nd, 2011 at 22:37 | #11

    “All we have to do is send two mujaheddin […] to raise a small piece of cloth on which is written “al-Qaeda” in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses.” – Unidentified 2004 video message, sometimes attributed to Bin Laden.


    (Ted Koppel: Nine years after 9/11, let’s stop playing into bin Laden’s hands)

  12. Freelander
    May 3rd, 2011 at 02:24 | #12


    Yes. In retrospect bin Laden did some damage to the US on 9/11 but that damage has been dwarfed by the damage they have done to themselves (and us) since. That has been an objective of terrorists for more than a century – to provoke a self-destructive reaction in their target. I would be interested to know how many have been radicalised and converted to the bin Laden cause as a result of gitmo, Iraq, and a variety of other choices. The world is not being made safer by the war on terrorism.

  13. TerjeP
    May 3rd, 2011 at 07:24 | #13

    Obama pops Osama using an exjudicial hit squad. A good result. What a champion. There should have been a formal congressional declaration of war on Al Quaeda to keep it tidy but congress long ago abdicated their war powers by never impeaching presidents for breaches.

    If I was a New Yorker I’d be dancing in the streets.

  14. TerjeP
    May 3rd, 2011 at 07:27 | #14

    Alice – your attempt to draw a moral equivalence is perverted.

  15. TerjeP
    May 3rd, 2011 at 07:29 | #15

    Yes. In retrospect bin Laden did some damage to the US on 9/11

    You mean it was not obvious at the time?

  16. Alice
    May 3rd, 2011 at 08:31 | #16

    I was not attempting to draw any moral equivalence between the terrorist activities of the OBL and the criminal activities of Wall street and the negligent activities of an excessively free market paradigm in economic advice to the US government and in attitudes to the oversight of the US financial system in the long build up to the GFC Terje.

    That is entirely your interpretation.

    I merely make the comment that sometimes the wheels of justice turn slowly, but turn they should.

  17. TerjeP
    May 3rd, 2011 at 08:37 | #17

    I was not attempting to draw any moral equivalence

    Sure you weren’t. You just happened to raise the topic of Wall Street financiers in a discussion about the killing of OBL because … well just for chuckles I suppose. Very amusing. Not.

  18. rabee
    May 3rd, 2011 at 08:48 | #18

    1) He was hiding in one of the biggest villas surrounded by houses of Pakistani military elites.
    2) A helicopter crashes in the raid, locals say everyone on board dead. US says no Americans died in crash.
    3) US says Pakistan was not informed of raid. So the US is able to conduct military operations close to the Pakistani capital without informing the Pakistani military.
    4) The US takes his body and dumps him in the sea. Give it to his family for decency’s sake.

    A lot of the story isn’t making sense to me.

  19. Andrew
    May 3rd, 2011 at 09:28 | #19

    rabee –

    1) Yep – raises serious questions about what the Pakistani intelligence services knew about OBL’s location….

    2) The Yanks claim it was a mechanical malfunction – couldn’t start the helicopter again so they blew it up….. I wonder…

    3) See response to 1)…. why tell the Pakistanis – they might have pre-warned OBL

    4) The US doesn’t want an OBL ‘shrine’ – burying at sea is a good outcome.

    Well done to the yanks I say….. good riddance to a bad apple.

    Also interesting that they appear to have tracked him down by following a courier whose nckname they managed to ‘extract’ from a couple of detainees in Guatanamo.

  20. Alice
    May 3rd, 2011 at 10:05 | #20

    Not amusing to a libertarian like yourself?
    Well dominant libertarian paradigms in economic policy approaches to prudential oversight, despite overwhelming evidence of their failure, are not exactly amusing to me either Terje.

  21. TerjeP
    May 3rd, 2011 at 11:37 | #21

    Alice – OBL destroys two building in the heart of Wall Street, kills 3000 innocent people and now ten years later he finally get’s his comeuppance. Your response is that Wall Street and libertarians need punishment. As I said your take on this is perverted.

  22. may
    May 3rd, 2011 at 12:55 | #22


    agreement or disagreement with a personal opinion needs not the appellation of “perverted”.

    how about comeuppance involving public trial in the world court ?

  23. Nick R
    May 3rd, 2011 at 12:56 | #23

    No doubt an excellent result, however I think the dancing in the streets seems a bit vulgar. I’m not sure that much good comes from humiliating vanquished enemies, and if I were to speculate, I’d say that that this sort of action would add fuel to the anti-American sentiment that drives terrorism in the first place.

    Perhaps this will lessen the paranoid ‘Glenn Beck’ style of politics in the U.S. for a while which would be a good thing. It may make the people who believe the whole ‘secret Muslim ‘ bit look pretty silly.

  24. jakerman
    May 3rd, 2011 at 13:14 | #24

    Anyone remember why we invaded Afghanistan? Now the longest war in Australian and US history.

  25. Jim Birch
    May 3rd, 2011 at 13:25 | #25


    1) Yep – raises serious questions about what the Pakistani intelligence services knew about OBL’s location….

    In this Al Jazeera opinion piece, After Osama: Stop feeding the beast, discusses the symbiotic relationship between the extremists and the dictators in Pakistan and elsewhere.

  26. may
    May 3rd, 2011 at 13:27 | #26

    ask j coalition(ha ha oh man)of tha willing howard.

  27. jakerman
    May 3rd, 2011 at 13:29 | #27

    The aim of USA was to drag the Soviet Union into the “Afghan trap” as US Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzezinski termed it.

    google ‘Soviet war in Afghanistan’

    The wars in response to Bin Laden’s strategy have already cost more US lives than his initial tactical strike.

    The total cost in all lives is two or three orders of magnitude greater, and will cost trillions upon trillions and has profoundly changed the political landscape.

    Bin Laden exploited the US weakness (and the weakness of those force to fawn to the US) that it the military industrial congressional complex. Bin Laden’s strategy is still winning. We are still losing.

  28. Jeepers Creepers
    May 3rd, 2011 at 13:31 | #28

    The major question is why did this take a decade?

    After 11/9 the first suggestion made at GWB national security council meeting by Wolfowitz was to invade Iraq.

    Whilst AQ and OBL was the only threat to the US after 11/9 Iraq posed no threat at all to its neighbours lat alone the US.

    the US invades Iraq and wastes a lot of time, money, international goodwill and resources instead of going after AQ and destroying them.

    doing this GWB and his cohorts were clearly traitors but we still don’t know why they did this.

    Three answers come to mind

    1) they are idiots
    2) they were bribed by AQ
    3) we will never know

    Terje is correct. Alice you should never have brought it up.

  29. Jeepers Creepers
    May 3rd, 2011 at 13:34 | #29

    I should add he was a lowlife.
    Died while making his wife a shield.

  30. Freelander
    May 3rd, 2011 at 13:38 | #30

    OBL wanted to inflict massive damage on the US. With lots of help from the US and in particular GW Bush looks like he got what he wanted.

    Mission Accomplished.

  31. Freelander
    May 3rd, 2011 at 13:40 | #31

    I’m waiting for Trump to take credit.

  32. jakerman
    May 3rd, 2011 at 13:41 | #32


    I see I’m not the first making these points.

  33. jakerman
    May 3rd, 2011 at 14:49 | #33


    What is the return on investment for Bin Laden poking the soft spot of the US Military Industrial Congressional Complex.

    4 x piolet training and accomodation @ say $100,000 each = $400,000
    20 airline ticks and 20 box cutters = $40,000
    Sundary expenses = 1,000,000

    Total project outlay = 1 to 2 million

    Cost induced to US = several billion in planes and property damage
    Several Trillion in war costs
    Immeasurable cost in loss of civil liberties and closing of US to be more a security state.

    Return on investment is in the order of several million to one.

  34. jakerman
    May 3rd, 2011 at 14:58 | #34

    It might be a conincidence, but they found Bin Landin within two weeks of a mass brakeout of detainees in Afghanistan, some of whom might have gone running home.

    Would be quite a gamble if they were allowed to breakout.

  35. Ernestine Gross
    May 3rd, 2011 at 15:00 | #35

    Freelander :I’m waiting for Trump to take credit.

    So am I.

  36. gerard
    May 3rd, 2011 at 19:33 | #36

    OBL has been an ISI asset since the 80s, and obviously he still had friends in all the right places.

    Living since 2005 in a mansion, which was built especially for him, right next to the country’s largest military academy, around the corner from a local police station. In a town that is apparently the retirement center for Pakistan’s military elite.

    No wonder he was living there, since he was practically a member of Pakistan’s military elite. Plus he (and his intelligence-services friends) might have considered himself as “retired”, after having successfully achieved his main aim: the removal of US troops from “The Land of the Two Holy Mosques”.

    It was the stationing of US troops in Saudi Arabia during and after the Gulf War that made OBL into an enemy of the US. The troops were removed from Saudi Arabia in 2003, two years after the attacks which were explicitly motivated by their presence there.

    What’s interesting about this is how the US managed to pull off this Hollywood strike without any ISI friends knowing enough to tip him off. I wonder if much has changed in the ISI since Musharraf departed.

    I’m surprised that the US managed to beat natural causes here. The timing was remarkable as well, after the whole birth certificate release and the roasting of Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner, the announcement is perfectly timed to interrupt Celebrity Apprentice. Speaking of timing, it was also the anniversary of Bush’s Mission Accomplished Speech.

  37. Donald Oats
    May 3rd, 2011 at 20:32 | #37

    It took a Democrat President of the US of A to do it. And he didn’t have to invade another country. Now hopefully we can get out of of Afghanistan. If not, can Aussie diggers be in the movie?

  38. Alice
    May 3rd, 2011 at 21:53 | #38

    @Ernestine Gross
    Im waiting for Dubya to leap up and say with a slick grin…if it wasnt for my efforts no one would have got him. What a shame it wasnt a really major effort so that Halliburton could have made a profit on the taxpayer funded privatised war supply chains.

  39. Alice
    May 3rd, 2011 at 21:55 | #39

    Gerard says

    “Living since 2005 in a mansion, which was built especially for him, right next to the country’s largest military academy, around the corner from a local police station. In a town that is apparently the retirement center for Pakistan’s military elite.”

    and the US republicans didnt have a clue right?

  40. May 4th, 2011 at 15:10 | #40

    The US Republicans, & everybody else are unlikely to have had a clue. The world is a big place, & all walls have ears.

    In a 10 acre patch of trees I defy anybody to locate me in hide & seek, especially if I am allowed to move around.
    Bin Laden had the entire world.
    In a western society I’d have to become an itinerant hobo to have any hope of avoiding the authorities locating me.
    In the undeveloped world, anybody’d be much harder to catch.

    Rather a shock to hear he was killed though, as I’d thought him dead years ago.

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