for the Regime
by Anthony Gregory: How
Will the Empire End?
speaking, the Obama administrationís double feature in the last
week Ė first, the revelation of the long-form birth certificate
and now the announced killing of Osama bin Laden Ė could not have
come at a better time. The presidentís approval rating was sinking.
His entire approach to domestic central planning was falling under
scrutiny. His wars were unpopular, especially among his own party.
But now two points of detraction, one rather superficial and the
other cutting more to the heart of the regime, have seemingly been
swept aside. Most folks are fairly sure Obama was born in the USA.
And itís harder for anyone to question his credentials as a war
president or, more fundamentally, the warfare state in general.
missed the big picture. First of all, Iíd be just as inclined to
trust the private newspapers that announced Obamaís birth as I would
a government birth certificate. More important, a president who
wages unjust wars, bankrupts the country, detains and tortures innocents,
and cracks down on liberty in a thousand ways, becomes no less or
more "legitimate" depending on his country of origin.
Constitutionally he does, perhaps, but the entirety of Obamaís agenda
runs against the Constitution, and that would seem to be more pressing.
Yet the scrutiny
of Obamaís presidential legitimacy was good theater, and the mainstream
protectors of the presidencyís honor did seem too eager to end the
fun. They also accused the Birthers of racism, when really they
were essentially the latest manifestation of the technicalitarian
movement Ė often well-intentioned folks who think that the problem
with government is that someone high up isnít following the written
were still not satisfied by last weekís release of paperwork, which
also failed to endear the presidentís more mainstream detractors
to him. Indeed, the drama over it as well as the accusations of
racism appeared to harden the anti-Obama right. The declared death
of Osama bin Laden, however, may prove to be different.
opinion, Trump seems quite the chump indeed, now that the circumstances
of Obamaís birth and Osamaís death make the billionaire appear to
be a goofy TV megalomaniac, compared to the homegrown commander
in chief who nonchalantly dismisses his criticsí claims and then,
only a few days later, tells the American people on a Sunday night
that he hunted down and killed the alleged terrorist ringleader
behind 9/11. This will of course hurt the Republicans, who for some
reason tend to win centrist votes on national security issues. Bush
promised to find and capture bin Laden over nine and a half years
ago Ė although, only months after 9/11, he
did say, "I truly am not that concerned about [Osama].
I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him when he had taken
over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically
running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban."
It was around then that Bush diverted his and the nationís attention
The death of
Osama, whose body has reportedly been dumped at sea in accordance
with Islamís doctrine that the body must be buried within 24 hours
and in supposed fear that a burial site would become a shrine, will
draw suspicion from many who doubt even the basics of the establishment
line on the war on terrorism. Some might find it odd, even if the
administrationís account is completely accurate, that it chose to
get rid of the evidence so quickly. Perhaps the administration knows
this and has chosen this route merely to assert its prerogative,
to show that it is boss, and to ruffle the feathers of the skeptics.
And Iím guessing
some conservatives will take the reports at face value and complain
that Obama has ordered that the body disposal follow Muslim rules.
How dare Osama get to pass into the next world this way! It makes
the Ground Zero Mosque look positively red-white-blue-and-Christian
by comparison. Yet moderate conservatives can be heard all over
talk radio cheering on the chief executive and the military for
the great success.
in any event, are simply glad that Osama is dead. There was widespread
cheering outside the White House. "USA! USA!" Ė the anthem
of an uninspired generation of youth. Flag-waving that harkens back
to 9/11 itself, if not the pre-Vietnam Cold War.
heads will say this vindicates the war on terrorism for the last
decade. It does not. I
wrote for LRC five years ago: "Osama has still not been
found Ė not to suggest that even his capture would make the last
five years of death and destruction worthwhile. Although even antiwar
Americans were quick to say some organized response was appropriate
to apprehend the 9/11 culprits, it now appears that we would have
been better off had the government done absolutely nothing at all."
And of course,
this is still true. Hundreds of thousands of innocents have died
years before their time. Tens of thousands of American soldiers
have been killed, maimed and psychologically scarred for life. Priceless
liberties have been trashed. The United States has waged military
operations, major and minor, in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Iraq,
Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya. Trillions of dollars in resources
have been squandered and destroyed.
the operation that finally caught bin Laden: "[T]he United
States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad,
Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation
with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were
harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties.
After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody
of his body."
like a relatively limited exercise, although if anyone innocent
was shot in the crossfire, we can object on those grounds. But why
did it take nine years for the U.S. to carry out a narrowly focused
mission to find and kill Osama? The smarter liberal media are playing
this up as a repudiation of the Bush approach to the war on terror.
Yet this only makes sense if Obama himself had actually repudiated
that approach. He has instead tripled down in Afghanistan, continued
the war in Iraq, multiplied the drone attacks many times over, and
continued to treat international law as well as the U.S. Constitution
as flexible rules in the waging of war and enforcement of national
security. Insofar as Obama is implicitly admitting none of this
was necessary to catch Osama, he should be criticized for persisting
in it, not hailed as a hero of foreign policy restraint.
promises more war: Osamaís "death does not mark the end of
our effort. Thereís no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to
pursue attacks against us. We must Ė and we will Ė remain
vigilant at home and abroad. . . . The cause of securing our country
is not complete."
So how on earth
is Obama different from Bush? Bush soon revealed that finding Osama
was tangential to the central goals of the war on terrorism, the
vast majority of which were policies that had nothing to do with
tracking him down. Indeed, the
Taliban offered to hand over bin Laden in October 2001, but
Bush didnít like the terms of the deal. Obama, for his part, has
said the war must continue even though the "death of bin Laden
marks the most significant achievement to date in our nationís effort
to defeat al Qaeda." If this isnít about Osama, what is it
At least when
bin Laden was reportedly on the loose, there was hope he would finally
be killed and our political masters would end the wars and invasions
of our rights. Yet when Obama triumphantly but coolly took credit
for smashing public enemy #1, he did not declare the TSA was closing
up shop, that Guantánamo was no longer needed, that the Patriot
Act should now expire, that the NSA would stop spying on our telecommunications,
that he no longer needed the presidential authority to order the
summary execution by drone attack of anyone in the world, including
American citizens. The terror threat level is the same as it has
been for years. No, nothing has changed. The U.S. has gone abroad
to slay the monster, killing hundreds of thousands in the process,
and now that the monster is dead the "cause of securing our
country is not complete."
this means the whole war on terrorism is every bit as phony as its
sharpest critics have always said. If we were really supposed to
tolerate endless wars and domestic depredations to catch Osama,
then how come we donít get full relief now that the government says
are still no closer to addressing the principal question that should
have been raised on 9/11: Why did they attack us? Even according
to the government, blowback played a key role. The most conventional
of accounts would imply that we should, at a minimum, rethink the
whole of U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world before 9/11. Obama
correctly calls Osama a "mass murderer of Muslims" because
al Qaeda has "slaughtered scores of Muslims." What does
this make the U.S. government, which has slaughtered scores of thousands?
This mass killing, obviously, has long enraged the Muslim world.
If the U.S. continues to bomb and occupy and rule by proxy Muslim
nations as it has for decades, there will always be more Osamas
to come. How many terrorists were created in the ten years it took
to kill bin Laden? By drawing the U.S. into perpetual, debilitating,
counterproductive war, is Osama not the most effective suicide terrorist
nagging questions, Obama will likely succeed in having it both ways.
It is a huge political win for the president. He caught the boogieman
that the Republicans didnít. And now he vows the conflict will continue.
We are not yet safe. We are still a country at siege. We are the
greatest country on earth, but we can never be free or at peace.
law professor proved himself tougher than the conservatives Ė and
he will prove himself tougher than his fellow Democrats who naively
think the war will finally end now. He is also as good at doublespeak
as any of them. A lot can happen from now to the election, but it
will be hard for the Republicans to overcome the perception that
the Democratic president they all accuse of being soft on Islamic
terrorism beat them at their own game.
There is more
to the story, but here is the politically relevant narrative: Itís
lights out for bin Laden. Itís a bad week for Donald Trump. And
itís springtime for the regime.
Gregory [send him mail]
is a research analyst at the Independent
lives in Oakland, California. See his
webpage for more articles and personal information.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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