Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11: Using words to convey cartoon images - the base of bin Laden

There are hundreds of knowledgeable commentators around the world on the subject of terrorism. One of the best is Gwynn Dyer who is a regular contributor to The Moncton Times and Transcript. Why on earth would staffer Brian Cormier be asked to write a commentary on the killing of Osama bin Laden?

This gem can be found on p. D7, the op ed page.

The headline appears to have no clear connection to the point of the commentary (if it has one); Mr. Cormier obviously is lacking basic facts about the incident, and he uses words to create cartoon figures of Moslems in general. To say that is not a criticism of Mr. Cormier. He is, I'm sure, a serious and professional reporter. The criticism is of an editorial staff that would hand him such an inappropriate assignment.

Roughly, the commentary is that moslems are terrorists; and terrorists attack the innocent, that it was a good idea to kill bin Laden: that his death will have no effect on the (Moslem) terrorist threat. Let's examine these assertion in point form.

1. Terrorism is an attack launched to cause terror. That seems clear. Can Mr. Cormier name a people in all of human history who have not attacked iinnocent people to cause terror? Ever read The Bible? Check Numbers 31 for just one of the many slaughters carried out by ancient Israel, not one of whom was a Moslem. Never hear of the Reign of Terror in France? Never wonder why it was called that? Never wonder why none of those terrorists was Moslem?

Ever hear of the bombing of Cambodia in which the Christian US deliberately killed a half million civilians?  Ever  hear of the genocide of 200,000 Guatemala Mayans, men, women and children whose slaughter was directed by the CIA - which was, for much of that campaign, run by CIA Head and Christian George Bush I? When Clinton apologized for it, the story made The New York Times; but not The Moncton Times - even though one of the victims was a priest from this area.

And Mr. Cormier obviously never heard of the Iraqis who had no connection whatever with terrorism. But over a million innocent and helpless people were killed therre by the "born again" George Bush II. Nobody can count the millions more whom that Christian refugeed, maimed, tortured, widowed, orphaned and impoverished. I think that counts as terrorism.

Indeed, every war fought since 1914 had killed more civilians than soldiers. The ratio is now at least hundreds of civilians of all ages  for each soldier.

2. Mr. Cormier says it was a good idea to kill bin Laden - and that Pakistan probably knew his hiding  place.

As to the hiding place, it's possible that Pakistan knew. It's also possible, even likely, that the US knew, and knew long ago. It's possible, even probable, that bin Laden was more valuable to the US alive than dead. He was the bogeyman that made it possible for the US government to invade Iraq and Afghanistan - and Pakistan where thousands of innocents have already died of drones, conventional bombing, and assassination squads. We haven't seen terrorism like this since Mao-Tse Tung.

The bogeyman also made it possible to impose travel restrictions on millions of Americans, to impose domestic spying on anybody the government doesn't like (such as those annoying greens), to jack up spending for a corrupt defence industry while cutting social services, and to imprison and torture American citizens without charge or trial. All of this now being done by the recipient of the Nebel Prize for Peace.

In fact, Afghanistan offered shortly after 9/11 to turn bin Laden over for trial in a neutral court. Bush refused.

Obama alive was useful.

There's not much evidence that he has been an active leader for years. Indeed, there's not much evidence that Al-Quaeda was ever that powerful a force. Obama probably ceased to be a threat years ago.

But now, dead, he is a threat. He's a threat as a myth, as a grievance, as a \rallying cry to more hatred.

3. The killing of bin Laden will not slow down acts of terrorism, not on either side.
(I shall skip lightly over the fact that killing without trial is not justice. It is murder. The American force was, apparently, a large one. It had no opposition at all. (Not a single American (or mercenary) was injured.) It would have been easy enough to take bin Laden prisoner. Indeed, it was against international law and against a variety of agreements signed by the US to kill him.

So why was he killed?

Hint - There is an election looming, and Obama was low in the polls. He has now zoomed up to a majority.

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