Bin Laden’s Assassination: Feeding Red Meat To America’s Imperialist Fervor
There is nothing like a “good killing” to make America proud and a politician go up in the polls. Since the hit on Osama Bin Laden executed by US Navy Seals, President Obama has gained 7 percent in the polls. His 50 percent approval rating, thanks to the killing of Bin Laden has jumped to 57 percent. The US President is getting praised from such “luminaries” as former Vice President Dick Cheney. Most Americans are happy and cheering without any second thoughts. After all, they finally got their bogeymen, and the “face of evil” used to justify the war in Afghanistan and Iraq is gone. And because in the United States the perception of reality is a simplistic black or white with no shades of grey, most people feel that the death of someone assassinated in a sovereign country is a cause for celebration.
Despite the “fog of war” surrounding the mission ordered and watched live by the President, the American people are asking very few questions. They are just happy the Bin Laden chapter is closed, as if the death of a man killed in murky circumstances would bring America back to the “innocent” golden years of before 9/11/2001. On 9/11, America’s feeling of invulnerability was lost and the country is still trying to recover from this deep open wound. But today, America wants to feel proud, invincible as if the killing of a symbolic figure head could make everything alright again. Americans, at large, do not care about the global geopolitical consequences of Bin Laden’s killing: they just wanted the ultimate “bad guy” dead. Beside the question of the photographic evidence of Bin Laden’s death, very few Americans are asking themselves the real questions: Why now? Does it matter? Should America declare “mission accomplished” and get out of Afghanistan? Or does it mean an escalation of the conflict to Pakistan?
At first, Americans were told that Bin Laden fought and was killed in a fire fight. But they shortly found out that in the Navy Seal’s “fog of war” theory, Bin Laden was killed “clean” with a bullet in the chest and one in the head to finish him off. It appears that Osama Bin Laden didn’t fight and was killed unarmed execution style. Americans could care less about the details, the repercussions and even about the legality of the operation according to international laws.
The truth or even reality doesn’t really matter to most people in the United States. What truly matters is that the empire successfully struck back and appears to be in the driver seat again. However, if some Americans are expecting that the closed chapter of Bin Laden means an end to the “war on terror”, they are grossly mistaken. It is just the beginning of “War on Terror: the sequel”. But this time around, forget Afghanistan, forget Iraq, the next target will be Pakistan.
The attack on Bin Laden’s compound has made the US covert war in Pakistan fully overt. The assassination of Bin Laden wasn’t conducted by CIA operatives, but instead by US special forces in breach of Pakistan sovereignty. They obviously benefited from the complicity of part of the ISI and some officials from the Pakistani government. But again, who has anything to gain from all this? Anti-American sentiments run rampant in Pakistan, and more than 75 percent of Pakistanis believe that 9/11 was an inside job. Pakistan and the United States are supposed to be allied in the so called war on terror, but yet the two countries have very different agendas.
The ISI, under the direction and the help of the CIA, made Bin Laden and what would eventually become the Taliban in the 1980s, and part of the ISI still has an allegiance to Afghanistan’s Taliban. However, they are fighting Pakistani Taliban who threaten Pakistan’s territorial integrity. Americans do not get the complexity of the tricky geopolitical context where India, the arch enemy of Pakistan, plays a center role. If Americans think that the killing of Bin Laden will end the US involvement in Afghanistan they are kidding themselves.
The book “War on Terror” is still wide open, and the killing of Bin Laden will insure that Guantanamo will stay open for a lot longer and that “legal” tools such as the Patriot Act and other neo-fascist legaleses will stay fully implemented. If you think the war on terror is over, think again. The endless war on terror is not only good business for the industrial-military complex, it is also good politics judging by President Obama’s boost in US public opinion polls. Even so we will not see the photographic evidence for a while, Osama Bin Laden is dead and America is cheering the news as if it was about justice. However, this is not about justice but about revenge and the assertion of the global reach of the empire.
Editor’s Note: All photographs by Gilbert Mercier.