Where will the next bin Laden come from ?

The latest atrocious murders committed by Al Qaeda raise a number of thoughts for me, as does the swift killing/capture of those apparently responsible for the murder of Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia.

First, however bad the crimes that have been committed in our name, nothing that has yet been revealed comes close to the gratuitous evil of Al Qaeda. That shouldn’t be taken as an excuse, or a reason for playing down such crimes; in the presence of such an enemy its more necessary than ever to keep our own hands clean and to be seen to do so. But nothing should be taken to mitigate the guilt of the Al Qaeda terrorists or to suggest that there is any possible compromise that can be made with them.

Second, as I’ve pointed out previously, the fact that Al Qaeda is committing crimes within Muslim countries, and particularly Saudi Arabia is a sign of self-defeating weakness. Much as the Saudi authorities, and much of the Saudi public, would like to sit on the fence, they’re being forced to choose sides.

Third, although the evil displayed by Al Qaeda is inexcusable that doesn’t mean it’s inexplicable or comes out of nowhere. There’s always a supply of angry young men, but it takes both motivation and training to convert angry young men into effective terrorists. Both are provided by participation in holy wars like the fight against the Russians in Afghanistan. The current generation of Al Qaeda leaders came up through the fighting in Afghanistan and the training camps there. This group has been taking heavy casualties, mostly as a result of effective police work around the world. Quite a few attacks have been prevented, and in most cases where an attack has been carried out, those responsible have been killed or captured.

This leads me to conclude that, if the world community, led by the US, had followed through effectively in Afghanistan, putting substantial resources into restoring order and reconstructing infrastructure there, and had worked together against terrorism, Al Qaeda would have been gravely weakened by now.

Unfortunately, while some of the necessary things have been done, any benefits have been largely offset by the war in Iraq. Among the many negative consequences of the war, the one that will have the most direct consequences for us is the boost it has given to terrorism. Until recently, the main effect has been to stimulate terrorist recruiting by inciting anti-American feeling. But it’s looking increasingly clear that places like Fallujah are going to be the 21st century equivalent of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The bloody and futile assault by US forces in May, in retaliation for the earlier killing and mutilation of private military contractors there, has solidified public hostility to the US among the people of the city. The recent US missile attack on a house allegedly used by terrorists only reinforces the point that Fallujah is a no-go zone for ground forces loyal to the US, and will undoubtedly remain so after June 30. If we are dealing with a new bin Laden in ten years time, he will probably have come from Iraq.

49 thoughts on “Where will the next bin Laden come from ?

  1. Rather than arrogantly recommend reading lists of ideologically indulgent authors who are so used to criticising their own cultures and the US that they are incapable of rational analysis in the present context, I suggest you read the like of Hitchens and Shawcross who do know what their talking about. Oh and better still – you ideological indulgent individuals who don’t really care less about social justice – why don’t read some works by secular Muslims such as Manji or Ibn Warraq. They are well aware who is the real source of evil in the world today and it is not Bush, Blair or Howard or, for that matter, Israel- a country which has suffered from appalling academic and political bias of the years.

  2. Mark Bahnisch is wrong about the French attitude that anyone with French citizenship is French. That is merely the official attitude, as held by the dominant elite. What the French actually do is reject outsiders in a very parochial way.

    I know – my mother’s family emigrated there, and even after my uncle obtained French citizenship he was an outsider to the family he married into. And French xenophobia was a large part of my mother’s resaon to emigrate to the UK in her turn.

    Readers might want to research the fate of the Harkis, too.

  3. “For heaven’s sake man, learn some history!!!”

    Good advice Jeff. You might like to refer to historical context yourself before you next ascribe a singularity of evil intent to American foreign policy over the last 50 years. The relevant geopolitical context is of course the Cold War in which the United States took the lead role in confronting Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism – itself no slouch when it came to perpetrating atrocity. My immediate reaction to lurid depictions of the US as a maddened power-mad beast rampaging through the last half century is to diagnose selective amnesia.

  4. PML – I don’t think we disagree – I pointed out that the official universalist ideology masked racism.

  5. MarkLatham
    I feel your pain.
    Here’s a list of those women and children that you care so much about(and their nationalities, of course) that were killed by those just awful Americans.
    I haven’t found out the names of the bunny wabbits and fluffy ducks you were so concerned about yet. But don’t worry, I’m working on it, so don’t go to pieces on us just yet.

    1.Muhamed bin Salem Al-asmari Saudi

    2.Abdullah bin Baz Al-utaibi Saudi

    3.Muhamed Al-zahrani Saudi

    4.Sa’ad bin Khaled Al-shahri Saudi

    5.Abu Muhamed Al-Kusaimi Saudi

    6.Muftaah saed Abu-dajana Emirates

    7.Sultaan Mutaseem Al-ashmuri Yemen

    8.Zakaria Abu-alabaas Morroco

    9.Saed Muhamed Abu-zaaker Algeria

    10.Mahmud uthman Al-shaikh Syria

    11.Abu-attah Lybia

    12.Abu Abdullah Somalia

    13.Kaari Handalh Somalia

    14.Omaar Hamid Khlil Iraq (Kurdistan)

    15.Saif Al-Turkstani China

    16.Abu Al-waleed Mauritania

  6. Mark Bahnisch –

    I think we disagree about whether we call the actual on the ground grass roots French attitude “the” French attitude, or the official elite endorsed version. It doesn’t mean a disagreement about what is going on, but it can lead to confusion and cross purposes in discussion.

    Ironically, the former approach to naming fits better with British descended thinking, but the latter fits better with post-Descartes French traditions – descriptive or prescriptive. So there is a risk of building in one’s conclusion when discussing French culture, whichever approach one adopts.

  7. Christopher Htchens? You must be kidding? The man is vile – like his opinions. An ex-Pat Brit who writes so much bilge about world affairs that its hard to keep track.

    Is clear to people like Mike B that the Anglo-American axis can do no wrong; moreover, our governments are paragons of virtue that universally respect human rights. People like our dear old Mike see the world through a one-way moral and legal lens, with western values depicted as threatened, justifying a global campaign of unrestricted violence (to quote Princeton Professor Richard Falk). This is why, to cite several of a million examples, Suharto was “our kind of guy”, to quote Bill Clinton, who received immense military and diplomatic support in full knowledge of the mass murder he was committing in East Timor. This is why the main partners in the mythological ‘war on terror’ – Algeria, Turkey, China, Russia, the US and Great Britain, are all leading exponents of state terror. This is why the US is bolstering vile regimes like Uzbekistan, whose leader, Islam Karimv, is a monster in the vein of Saddam Hussein who boils his political opponents alive. This is why the US has increased military and economic support to Colombia and Turkey in the post-cold war years, knowing full well that the military hardware they are selling is being used to slaughter civilians and peasants (Colombia was the recipient of 1.3 billion dollars worth of US ‘aid’ last year – a year in which Amnesty International declared it to be the world’s most despicable regime). This is why US-British aid goes disproportionately to countries with appalling human rights records – countries that routinely murder union leaders, political opponenents, and civilians.

    The FACT is that the US and UK support regimes (including many in the Middle East), no matter how vile, that support their business interests. The ‘war on terror’ – replacing the old ‘red scare’ of the cold war years – is nothing more than a semantic camouflage disigned to obscure the real objectives of American foreign policy: economic expansion and control of resources the neocons in Washington argue are “rightfully theirs” but tend to lie under the land masses of other countries. What the Bush/Cheney junta fears most is indiginous nationalism – that political systems will emerge in countries which attempt to use their resources to benefit their own populations. This is what happened in Guatemala under Arbenz in the 1950’s, Indoneia under Sukarno in the 1960’s, and Nicaragua under the Sandanista’s in the 1980’s (to cite just three of countless examples). In each case, a pretext was made to “cut out the cancer”, as George Schultz described Nicaragua’s inherent nationalism in 1984. This is nothing new. The US will ensure – economically or by military force if necessary – that a countries’ first priority is to US investors ad conglomerates. This explains their policy of support for brutal regimes around the world – a “top down” form of democracy which is not democracy at all but a polyarchy or plutocracy.

    Last point: for your sake, Mike, I hope you never witness a debate between Mark Curtis and Hitchens because Curtis will totally and utterly humilate Hitchens.

  8. jeez tipper i feel your pain too – here’s an even bigger list of the names 2081 civilians that have died since the U.S invaded Iraq

  9. Now, now, KG. Utilitarian pro-Americans have actually argued that you should net those 2,081 off against the number who would have died under the US sanctions and bombing that would have continued if there had been no invasion and occupation. (Irony off)

  10. PML
    Surely it would be more rational to offset the 2081 (actually closer to 4000, but lets not quibble) against these numbers. And thanks for resurrection that blast from the past, about all the “victims” of inhumane US/UK sanctions.

  11. No Tipper –

    You simply should not do that utilitarian stuff, ever. It fools people into mistaking lesser evil for good, and it’s a short step from there to losing track of ethical standards entirely as you choose the measurement you are most comfortable with and stop asking questions.

    Consider the Bialik Brigade, Jews active in Poland during the war. They forced Polish Catholics to shelter Jews by taking reprisals that were worse than the German ones. They saved Jewish lives. If you account their actions good, you are saying that their own atrocities and murders of innocent Poles were justified.

    And you cannot use the incidental benefits of the end of Saddam’s rule that way anyway, for several reasons. He himself had a similar justification, stopping people like the Kurds from massacring local Christians. The US figures of what he did wrong are no more substantial than any other US intelligence (which is precisely why there is a risk in going the utilitarian route, of choosing what figures suit you). And the assumption that there has been a change for the better is on a par with those halfwits who claimed a year ago that Iraq had been liberated and wouldn’t listen when people like me said what they had just got was occupation, with liberation a prospect on the horizon (you simply can’t count the gains until they really are realised and present).

    The USA usually screws up, and since you cannot ever stop the counting in utilitarianism, you just can’t use it. The final figures never are in. It’s a nonsense to claim that the USA improves things, when you can actually trace most of the evils it fixes back to its own actions and omissions, so we shouldn’t try that counting game – it backfires. None of us is without sin, and if all had our deserts none would escape whipping. Not even the exceptionalist USA.

  12. Ignoring, well, blathering fools is a collective action problem as I see it, with the predicted result. Unfortunate.

  13. Jeff Harvey states that Christopher Htchens ‘is vile – like his opinions. An ex-Pat Brit who writes so much bilge about world affairs that its hard to keep track.’ He then goes on to attack the US listing a litany of things they have done wrong or allegedly done wrong without making any positive statements. There is also the assumption that anyone who does not agree with this idiotic worldview must be ignorant of history.
    Well Jeff, I am well aware of history – in fact, obviously far more than you are give that ideology rather facts influences your views– I marched against the Vietnam war etc and, until recently was a long-time member of Amnesty International. However, unlike the likes of you and other members of the dogmatic Marxist cum cultural left, I also vigorously opposed human rights abuses in the Soviet Union and Cuba etc and did not naively side with Arafat’s mafia regime at the expense of innocent Israeli’s. Also when the US does positive things, I can actually bring myself to say so – keeping Europe safe in the cold war, the Marshall plan, the Green Revolution in India without which massive starvation would have occurred (which the nation would not have survived), and its lead in the current war against Islamic fascism etc. Incidentally, I have never seen Hitchens or William Shawcross bested in an argument. I suspect this is while a simple minded, ideologically blinkered individual such as you hates him so much. Stick to computer games and leave politics to adults – I sick of you ideologues on the left allowing the right to dominate.

  14. Michael Burgess, you are a complete hypocrite. Airbrush from history a lengthy litany of abuses of power – and draw conclusions based on a narrow (exceedingly narrow) list of altruistic US actions (if you can call that thin list using such a metaphor). I have read articles by both Hitchen and Shawcross, and its funny how failed liberals tend to fall behind the vassals of power as they age (like you). By contrast, you’ve never read a thing by any of the authors I have listed, its patently obvious from the simplicity of your arguments. Moreover, how can Hitchens and Shawcross be ‘bested’ in debates when, like the servile politicians they support, they limit access to sycophants? Like another vile ex-liberal, Thomas Friedman, they wallow in empire and violence so long as America (and its junior partner and full time poodle, Britain) is pulling the trigger.

    I won’t even attempt to answer the appalling examples of US generosity you mentioned, with the excepton of the “Marshall Plan”. Don’t you realize that Europe paid back, with immense interest, proceeds from the MP? Britain was only able to pay off this debt by pludering resources from its colonies – such as British Guiana, Malaya, Iran and Kenya – often using brute force to maintain the status quo (while suppressing nationalism in these countries). Your problem, Mr. Burgess, is well explained by Gore Vidal in his latest book, “The United States of Amnesia”: – “We learn nothing if we remember nothing”. Furthermore, I’d suggest you read the words of US strategic planner George Kennan, made in 1948, if you want a clearer picture of US global ambitions. But of course, you’ve never heard of him! And you lecture me on politics? By the way, before you make any more attacks on my integrity, I have a PhD and hate computer games.

  15. Thomas Friedman is still a liberal you cretin and it is offensive to suggest otherwise. The reason pure and simple that you don’t like him is that he quite rightly supports Israel in the face of appalling terrorism. In addition, secular and left wing Iraqis support US intervention in their country while the illiberal elements don’t-so who is the liberal and who is the reactionary those who support progressives or those who support religious lunatics. You are clearly the type of ideologue who in the 1930s to the 1960s or later would have gone to the Soviet Union and thought they saw Utopia and ignored the millions of people in concentration camps. Anyone who disagreed with such a cretinous was labelled a reactionary. As for your PhD, well I also have one – but what does it mean when Social Science departments are dominated by mindless ideologues whom seem to think that Bush, Blair and Howard are a bigger threat to world peace than Islamic fascism and that a middle class Anglo-Saxon making a remark which is deemed sexist or racist by the thought police is viewed as a bigger threat to human progress than Muslims throwing acid in women’s faces or threatening writers with death.

  16. …The same Islamic fascists that have been for years cultivated by the US and Britain. Or do you know nothing of the history of the Middle East? Oman? Bahrain? The UAE? Saudi Arabia? Or who created the Mujahadeen from which the Taliban emerged? Or who supported the death squads in Latin America whe they were mutilating women and children? The infamous “Tiger unit” in Vietam? Mike, you are the cretin here, a blind and ignorant xenophobe who expunges all of the vile deeds carried out under Anglo-American support. Wakey, wakey…

  17. So the fact that the US played a role in the development of the Mujahadeen in the past means that they should try to put things right in the present – smart thinking that. As for expunging all of the vile deeds carried out under Anglo-American support when have I done that – I am very critical of many aspects of US policy in the past. This is in contrast to you who can’t bring yourself to say anything positive about the US or admit that Islamic extremism goes beyond just a small minority of fanatics. As such you are simple an irrelevance and not worth bothering with any longer.

  18. …While I am on the subject, I would like to ask Michael if he can explain why the US government was flying in Mujahadeen and Hezbollah fighters into Kosovo in 1999 while Israel, Greece and Ukraine were funding arms to Serbia. This is total and utter hypocricy. Furthermore, when Moshe Dayan said in 1975 that “We will treat Arabs as dogs”, he was setting out Israel’s brutal domestic policies against Palestinians for years to come. Lastly, Thomas Friedman is not a liberal – he’s a hack. Anyone who makes statements like “We should bomb Iraq over, and over and over again”, and, regarding Serbia, “You want 1950? We can give you 1950. You want 1350? We can give you that too” is pure and utter human filth – nothing less.

  19. I just love reading impassioned dialogues like this thread. They invariably end-up with the most frenetic posters “proving” that whatever/whenever the inhumanity, the Brits/UK are most horrid and the Jews the worst.

    My immediate research tool to test textual claims, particularly the awesome volume of Jew-Quotes, is Google ™. No doubt not 100% coverage of all references, but searching 4,285,199,774 web pages is better than none.

    Here are a couple of examples:

    Google’s response to Jeff Harvey’s direct quote of Moshe Dayan (“said in 1975”) that “We will treat Arabs as dogs” is … “did not match any documents”.

    And what are the other pages on the internet mentioning the “Bialik Brigade” which P.M. Lawrence informed us were “Jews active in Poland during the war” who “forced Polish Catholics to shelter Jews by taking reprisals that were worse than the German ones”? Absolutely none. The only reference to “Bialik Brigade” found by Google was what P.M. Lawrence posted in this actual thread.

    This occurs time and time again. Try it yourself. It’s just like looking up footnotes at a library. And easy.

    And critical if we are to filter the crazed anti-democratic/cum/anti-Semetic/cum/totalitarian-apologists from genuine debates.

  20. ‘And what are the other pages on the internet mentioning the “Bialik Brigade”…’

    Try looking outside the internet. I noticed this when I was astonished by the amount of eulogy given to the eponymous Bialik in an obituary in the Melbourne age a few years ago – even though it was quite explicit about the activities of the Bialik Brigade! Of course, looking up old newspaper files may take quite a bit of work, but hey, once you get the information you can put the secondary information on the internet yourself.

    The internet is not the source of all wisdom. It is merely a medium.

  21. Not good enough, P.M.

    Comments of good charactor have an obligation to provide sources/evidence for new information used in arguement either by hyper-link or by direct quotes with notes and references (eg. The Age, which city, which date, etc).

    This is not a matter of academic correctness or politeness. The enemies of freedom are using the internet as a vehicle for propaganda on a grand scale. Promoting documenation, accuracy and relevancy is an important defence against the onslaught.

    Quite frankly, I am astounded by your suggestion that I view the internet as “the source of all wisdom”. Are you associated with johnquiggin.com?

  22. Jeff Harvey you are as incredibly selective as your undoubted hero Noam Chomsky when entering into the Israeli/ Palestinian debate. You refer to an alleged comment made by Moshe Dayan. Now I don’t know whether he made this comment or not but that is not the issue. The issue is which side do the overall facts support.

    It is a fact that on three occasions since the Second World War the Palestinians have been offered a continuous state. Initially the state of Israel would have been a relatively small amount of poor quality land much of which they purchased from the Arabs in any case. Rather than accept this or the very generous offer (given the past behaviour of the Palestinians) made when Clinton was President, the Palestinian leadership and Arab leaders have continiously chosen to seek to wipe out all Jews. During the second world war a delegation of senior Palestinians went to see Hitler to seek his support for a final solution, solution in their region of the world.

    When the Arab countries invaded Israel following the end of the Second World War, they called on their troops to massacre any Jews they came across which they did. When the incredibly corrupt Arafat speaks to his own constituency he makes similar remarks advocating the destruction of the Jews (whatever his comments to the international media) a point that Friedman has constantly made and obviously one reason why an ideologue like yourself does not like him. As a recent book, The Case for Israel, by Alan Dershowitz has pointed out, when faced with such appalling behaviour Israel has generally responded with impressive moderation. That is, the measures it takes are no more punitive (probably less so) than would have been the case if another democratic country was faced with similar provocation.

    On the issue of who is the real liberal, I should also point out Jeff that Gay Palestinians frequently claim political asylum in Israel – I wonder why. Many Arab Israeli’s are also more than happy to remain in Israel rather than go to an Arab country – I wonder why. Jeff why don’t you go and live in Palestine or any other Arab country and see how you like it. Even Chomsky and Said et al choose to live in the US – the country they supposedly hate- rather than put their convictions into practice.

  23. Michael,

    You can defend Israeli actions until you are blue in the face but you cannot excuse many of the atrocities they have committed over the years, actions which the establishment media never refers to as state terrorism – which is exactly what it is – but as “retaliation”, “response” “or, my favourite, “operations”. These “operations” have left the Palestinian community in ruins, many thousands dead, and 65% of Palestinians living below the poverty level. I am not going to go into a length discourse over the specifics of the atrocities but there are many – Mark Curtis details some of the more egregious abuses in his book, “Web of Deceit” – and there are reams of other sources.

    As far as Said and Chomsky are concerned, along with the likes of Gore Vidal, Curtis, John Pilger, Robert Fisk, Naomi Klein, Jonathon Steel, Paul Street, Edward Herman, Amy Goodman, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy, Norman Solomon, Howard Zinn, Tom Engelhardt, and many others, they are (or were, in Said’s case) examples of individuals who unravel accredited lies. I lost faith in the news promoted by the elite (television, newspapers) years ago, and rely instead on books and commentary over the internet. – I find it incomprehensible when MB uses the same stupid argument that individuals within the USA or the UK who criticize the vassals of state and corporate power are “anti-American” or “anti-British” and should live elsewhere. This is so blatantly and brazenly arrogant. John Pilger, questioning John Bolton, one of the neocon “crazies”, as former CIA man Ray McGovern refers to the current incuments in the White House, had Bolton downplay the deaths of 10,000 civilians in Iraq due to the latest Anglo-American invasion as being “not so bad”. Consider the outpouring of grief in any western country from this kind of slaughter. These are on top of the horrendous death rates from Gulf War I, when the ‘coalition’ deliberately targeted the civilian infrastructure, and the sanctions which killed hundreds of thousands more and which Madeline Albright said infamously, “were worth the cost”. Bolton then when on to ask Pilger if he was a communist. This is the kind of crazy speak that pervades the current US administration, and its truly democractic when individals like McGovern – a lifelong Republican – express their views that Bush and his administration are a threat to world peace and security. I just wonder how many Italians who criticize pseudo-fascists like Berlisconi are called “anti-Italian”. I live in Holland, and I haven’t yet heard critics of the incompetent Balkenende government smeared as being “anti-Dutch”. The real aim to achieve true democracy from within. This is why the aforementioned dissident academics and journalists are so important.

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