March 2, 2024

Osamacide and the legacy of Bin Laden

The fourth anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death was celebrated on May 2, despite his significant role in launching the “war against terror” of September 11, 2001. Seymour Hersh, however, received a lot more attention. It is particularly puzzling when we consider the fact that many of the current crises involving Islamist jihadis, from Karachi through Paris and Timbuktu, are part of Bin Laden’s legacy.

The misguided policies that followed September 11 continue today, including assassination, military intervention, and draconian anti-terrorism laws. 

Osamacide, a parody of both the public relations snafu around the manner in which Bin Laden was killed and the conspiracy theorists, is a brilliant piece of work. The film also raises important questions about justice and the rule of law.

Obama’s 2011 propaganda was utterly absurd. Even The Australian’s pro-US commentator Greg Sheridan , who is normally very steadfast in his support for the US, expressed the opinion of the official narrative having “a disturbing ring to it”.

Justice becomes selective

When Baxter was asked “was Osama worthwhile? “, he was cut off by the Moonseed rant which essentially paraphrases “jet fuel cannot melt steel!” hypotheses regarding September 11.

Baxter insists: “This has been our best hour. Justice has been done.”

Foster interjects: “Justice? “General, what a strange word.”

Baxter responds: “We are a nation of law.” What other words would use?”

Foster: “Assassination. Slaughter…”

Quite. Hersh had been promoting the standard tropes about a fierce firefight where Bin Laden’s wife was used as a shield by the cowardly terrorist. However, it turned out that a man who was unarmed and Hersh described as an “invalid” with little or no operational capability, was killed in front of his family. His body was thrown into the sea.

No matter what version you accept of Osama Bin Laden’s death, it does not meet legal standards of justice. EPA/US Department of Defence

Foster asks Baxter if there was a legal process in place and mentions the idea that a trial by law would be appropriate. Bin Laden’s demise was convenient, of course. Bin Laden’s death was convenient, of course. Undeterred, Baxter replies:

Who decides at any given moment when the rule-of-law is enforced and when it is suspended? That is the true sign of supremacy.

We are at the crux of Western hypocrisy when it comes down to selectively applying and abrogating international law. In the Persian Gulf Crisis of 1990-1991, critics pointed out the hypocrisy in enforcing Security Council Resolutions to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait but remaining silent about the many resolutions condemning Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem or the Palestinian Territories. One more example of selectiveness occurred in the run-up to 2003’s invasion of Iraq. The US invoked past Security Council resolutions as justification, but simultaneously declared that the United Nations is irrelevant.

In the face of the intransigence and intransigence shown by powerful states, international law is rendered ineffective. The invasion of Iraq was one example. The US then markets itself as a “power” with good intentions. Baxter goes on to say: “You cannot spell justice without the US”, in what may be a pointed comment about the puerile acronyms used (e.g. PATRIOT act, which limits civil liberties. Operation Enduring Freedom by successive US administrations.

Baxter’s claim that the “war against terror” is the continuation of the nineteenth century deserves scrutiny as well. The US doctrine of spreading democracy and human right is strikingly similar to the 19th century conceptions of “Manifest Destiny” – and British and French imperial theories of “White Man’s burden and “Mission Civilisatrice. The Libyan regime change doctrine in 2012 is a similar evolution of the Responsibility To Protect doctrine.

Was Osama Worth It?

Here’s a quick, but not exhaustive, count of the “war against terror” since 2001.

The portraits of bin Laden in anti-US demonstrations in Pakistan, a year after he died, show just how dangerously polarising ‘the war on terror’ was. EPA/Musa Farman

Bin Laden’s death and that of other al-Qaeda leaders has had little impact on the spread jihadi Islamism. The Obama administration’s redefining of “militants as any male of military-age within the blast zone has likely radicalised a whole new generation.

The Taliban will be a part of the order that follows the NATO. What is the cost? Some 3,487 coalition deaths to date.

Who knows what the Afghanis are like? This disregard for local deaths is similar to General Tommy Franks’ comment during the Iraq invasion: “We do not count bodies“. That is, non-Western casualties. Local “entrepreneurs” have also exploited post-Taliban security chaos to restart the opium business.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq unleashed a torrent of sectarian violence. Robert Pape explains that there had never been suicide bombings before 2003.

Al-Qaeda metastasized into ISIS and then Islamic State (IS), a brutal movement that even al-Qaeda disowned. IS controls a large part of Syria and Iraq. IS has also gained the support of militant groups from Libya, Sinai, Nigeria and other countries.

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