Tag Archives: usama bin laden

Commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11 by understanding what followed

Summary: On 9-11 al Qaeda scored one of the biggest wins in history, as our response put America on a new path. We’ve helped set the Middle East aflame and given up important rights, with no end in sight to either. On this 15th anniversary of 9/11 let’s learn from our mistakes and begin the long process of reforming the damage we have done to America.

Osama Bin Laden

“We were attacked on 9/11 by a group of Saudis, Emiratis, and a Lebanese, led by an Egyptian. Which is why we’re at war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.”

From DuffelBlog, one of America’s few reliable source of insight.

How will future Americans see our time?

“He [VP Cheney] would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it – Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. In other words, he thought the whole world had to be made anew, and that after September 11, it had to be done by force and with urgency. So he was for hard, hard power. … We’re coming after you, so change or be changed.”

— UK PM Tony Blair in his memoir A Journey: My Political Life.

What will 23rd century 8th grade history textbooks say about our time, the era of the Boomers? Only time strips away the trivia, showing future generations the key events of the past. For example, the events at Runnymede on 15 June 1215 seemed of little import to that generation. On August 24 the Pope declared the Baron’s agreement with King John invalid, the next month King John repudiated it, and it was one of a series of such compacts. Yet Magna Carta remained influential, and lives to this day.

I suspect that many prominent events, such as the Vietnam War, will be forgotten. Some, like the moon landing, will get brief mention (noteworthy, but of no significance in history). Children will learn about those events proven to be inflection points. 9/11 will be prominently mentioned. It was the one of the most effective single military operation in the history of the world, and probably the most cost-effective military operation ever.

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The day after Hersh: rebuttals & more evidence about the bin Laden hit

Summary: On Sunday the London Review of Books published Hersh’s article trashing Obama’s story about the raid to kill bin Laden. The next day told us much about America, with the reflexive denials by government officials, their support by the government’s fanboys, and the rapid arrival of more evidence supporting Hersh’s analysis.  {1st of 2 posts today.} Obama officially announces bin Laden's death

Contents

  1. The lesson we refuse to learn.
  2. The government’s fanboys speak!
  3. Supporting evidence.
  4. Other posts in this series.
  5. For More Information.

(1)  The lesson we refuse to learn

Seymour Hersh’s “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” and Americans’ response to it illustrates what I wrote about in both of yesterday’s posts. By now a large body of evidence refutes key elements of the government’s story about the bin Laden hit, the books about it, and the film Zero Dark Thirty. It’s the most useful news story of 2015, an opportunity for us to learn so that we do not swallow the next lie. On the other hand, this is just another on the long list of lies about key events — a defining characteristic of the post-WWII era. By now the every American should know that The first rule of American war is not to believe what we’re told. It’s a lesson we seem unable to learn.

(2)  Immediate denials from the government & its fanboys

As always, reports of government lies are met by denials by government officials. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the government fanboys (geopolitical experts, journalists, Wall Street gurus) immediately bark in support. Max Fisher at Vox ( (who was in turn brutally taken down by journalist Corey Pein. “Given the current climate in the US, it’s hard to imagine worthwhile investigative reporting on intelligence and foreign policy that doesn’t make some use of such {anonymous} sources.”). Peter Bergen at CNN. Max Boot at Commentary (he’s not always wrong). Quartz asks questions with obvious answers (questions that Hersh answered).  Most of this is dressed-up incredulity, neither analysis nor fact-checking. This resembles the waves of mockery that greeted the revelations by Snowden about NSA surveilance. Three years later we see that Snowden was largely correct. Of course there have been few (no?) admissions of error by his critics. Much depends on how many Americans have learned skepticism from the events since 9/11. Our reaction to Hersh’s story will provide an answer.

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The most useful news story of 2015: the truth about the bin Laden hit

Summary: Seymour Hersh’s new article about the bin Laden hit is important. Most political news provides entertainment for the outer party but makes no difference in their lives. But sometimes we get a teachable moment that rips aside the narrative fed to us by government officials and journalists, revealing truths that can inspire us to change ourselves. It’s our choice.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

That’s almost the only part of the story that was correct.Bin Laden killed..

Contents

  1. Truth about the bin Laden hit.
  2. Fruits of the bin Laden hit.
  3. Conclusions.
  4. Other posts in this series.
  5. For More Information.

(1) The truth about the bin Laden hit

Today’s vital reading: “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” by Seymour M. Hersh in the London Review of Books. It’s rich with important lessons for us.

First and most important, the various stories about the bin Laden raid by government officials (formal and leaked, quite contradictory, often unrealistic) remind us how far we’ve come since Eisenhower regretted getting caught lying to us about the Russia shooting down our U2. Now they lie light-heartedly and frequently, with no consequences when caught. Hersh pulls together and supplements what we learned from previous articles — that they lied about almost every important detail about the raid.

The information from torture played no role in locating bin Laden. Unlike what we saw in about the film Zero Dark Thirty, CIA intel played no role. A former senior Pakistani intelligence officer sold us bin Laden’s location for the $25 million reward.

The SEALs did not run a daring penetration into Pakistan. The Pakistan military knew of the raid and allowed them in and out. There was no resistance. Bin Laden did not use a woman as a shield and shoot at them; he was a sick prisoner.

It was planned as a hit, the assassination of a sick old guy. Lies were constructed afterwards to conceal this ugly truth.

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The solution to jihad: kill and contain our foes. Give war another chance!

Summary: Today we have an article from the dark side of America’s soul (with deep roots in our history) enticing us into evil. War erodes our strength, and after 13 years of the War on Terror our defenses against evil are quite thin. Voices like this, although seldom so vivid, probably will dominate debate among the presidential candidates of both parties during the next two years.

“Kill them all; let God sort them out.”
— Loose translation of phrase attributed to Papal legate Arnaud Amalric before the Massacre at Béziers, in France at the start of the Albigensian Crusade.

At an early intergovernmental meeting {1962} on the importance of psychological warfare, one of {General} Harkins’ key staffmen, Brigadier General Gerald Kelleher, quickly dismissed that theory. His job, he said, was to kill Vietcong.  But the French, responded a political officer named Donald Pike, had killed a lot of Vietcong and they had not won. “Didn’t kill enough Vietcong,” answered Kelleher.

— From David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest (1972).

I urge you to read the article discussed here, and contemplate the future of America. At 3400 words, it’s too complex for an accurate summary beyond “kill kill kill”. The author hits all the usual tropes of US bloodlust. General Sherman. NAZIs. Good (us) and evil (them). Amnesia about history. But bad wars corrupt the soul, and the US has fought three bad wars since Korea The evidence mounts that we are in a perilous state. I’ve included only a few comments, as the text sings a song familiar to anyone who know of humanity’s blood-soaked history.

Two notes to remember as you read.

  1. This article advocates doing what Bin Laden hoped we do. This is why 9/11 was the most effective single military operation in the history of the world.
  2. Despite what the author claims, the record of foreign armies fighting local insurgents is one of almost uniform failure (see details here).

Crusade vs Jihad

War is Cruelty, and You Cannot Refine It

“A Thought Experiment on the Hegelian dialectic towards ‘Total’ Strategy Development”
By Jeremy Kotkin (Major, US Army) at Medium,7 September 2014

Major Kotkin opens with sound analysis. This excerpt just sets the stage for the main body.

Let’s talk counterinsurgency and ISIS. Not the “population-centric” fantasy of hearts and minds made popular by FM 3–24, David Petraeus, and liberal American idealism, but real counterinsurgency. Now that a cohesive group of psychotics and organized criminals have thrown the Middle East yet again into a cauldron of seething and violent cultural atavism, what should the world, and the U.S. specifically, do about it? … What do we do about the endemic issue of which ISIS is yet simply another symptom?

The body of the article reads like pre-WW1 literature looking forward to the Great War. It’s a chain of dubious assumptions from the danger posed by ISIS to the effectiveness of war. Major Kotkin starts with a “Thesis”.

… We’ll keep fighting this cancer {ISIS} with one hand tied behind our back. Yet cancer requires a wholesale attack. Even “targeted” anti-cancer therapies try to root out the cancer from the starting place – the genetic source. We have never attempted and will probably not attempt to do this. … We’re afraid of global public opinion. Yet the way we’ve been handling our Global War on Terrorism has been a failure. Something new is needed. Something systemic and something complete.

… What follows is a thought experiment on a different course of action and a different strategy. … What follows is a game-changer and as distasteful as it may initially seem, it represents a course of action, albeit extreme, to deal with an extreme and lasting problem.

… Beyond all the handwringing at State and Defense about what is too little or too much, or messaging, or narratives, or soft power, or population-centric strategies that focus on the human element, the answer always was right in front of us.

Then he gives an “Antithesis”, filled with talk about war and total war — but artfully vague about operational details.

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We cannot defeat al Qaeda unless we understand it. And since we’re told mostly exaggerations and lies…

Summary: Forged by our intervention into Afghanistan against the USSR, senior US government officials ignored al Qaida until 9-11. Then its name became a totem for the American people, the hated other. To mention it was waving the bloody shirt, hitting the stop button to our minds. Any thought about our strategy must start with questions about the myth and reality of al Qaeda. These were asked here in 2005 (and countless times since), yet for most Americans these questions remain not just unanswered but unasked. Today’s post by Richard Seymour provides some answers, confirming what we’ve said here so many times.

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

“He [VP Cheney] would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it – Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. In other words, he thought the whole world had to be made anew, and that after September 11, it had to be done by force and with urgency. So he was for hard, hard power. … We’re coming after you, so change or be changed.”
— UK PM Tony Blair in his memoir A Journey: My Political Life

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
— Aphorism 146 in Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (1886)

Today’s reading

The Uses of al-Qaida

By Richard Seymour, London Review of Books, 13 September 2012
Published with the generous permission of Richard Seymour and the LRB.

President Obama has waged war on al-Qaida by drone and by ‘kill list’. Vladimir Putin has hunted al-Qaida in the North Caucasus. The late Colonel Gaddafi, and now Bashar al-Assad, have summoned alliances against it.

The alarming ubiquity of al-Qaida, its mitosis and metastasis seemingly outpacing the destruction of its cells, is attested by the multiplication of enemies on the US State Department’s list of ‘foreign terrorist organisations’. In 2002, al-Qaida appeared as a single entry; now there are four officially recognised organisations with the same root brand: al-Qaida (AQ), al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The list also includes the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, usually described as an ‘affiliate’ of al-Qaida in Iraq.

About the greater al Qaida

The taxonomic determinacy of this list is deceptive.

Consider al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the group held responsible for organising the attempt in 2009 by the ‘underwear bomber’, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to blow up a plane en route from Amsterdam to Detroit.

  • AQAP was one of the most alarming new franchises identified in a briefing given to Congress by the Federation of American Scientists in 2005, one of a rash of new ‘presences’ and ‘affiliates’ of al-Qaida emerging from Bali to Mombasa. It was said to be responsible for an attack on the US consulate in Jeddah in 2004 and, the FAS claimed, was attempting to overthrow the Saudi royal family.
  • Yet, five years later, a Carnegie Endowment analysis paper traced the origins of a group called al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to the emergence of a small number of jihadis who had escaped from prison in Sanaa in February 2006.
  • And the Center for Strategic and International Studies reported {in July 2011} that ‘al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) emerged in January 2009 from the union of two pre-existing militant groups: al-Qaida in Yemen (AQY) and al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia.’

Can these various expert analyses all have been discussing the same organisation?

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