The death of bin Laden marks something really important, but what is it?
Could it be that it shows us the United States has embarked for almost ten years on unnecessary wars? One guy came up and stomped us on the foot and we beat up every kid on the playground. That’ll show ‘em.
There is no doubt, no doubt at all, that, first, we went into a national panic mode following the 9-11, 2001 attacks. This panic was aided and abetted by the presidency of G.W. Bush, which saw a grand opportunity to replace the Cold War (ended in 1989) with the Long War on Terrorism. The news media played along with the general mood and they were given choice leaks in the run up to the war in Iraq to keep things bubbling along.
Is it time to scale back, settle down and bring as many troops home as possible? Yes, but wait. The raid that killed Osama bin Laden shows that targeted, careful action can be far more important than what 100,000 or 200,000 troops can do by invading a country. Bin Laden was the goal, the ultimate goal. It is fair to ask now what if we had only invaded Afghanistan, driven the Taliban out and concentrated ALL of our resources on getting bin Laden? Might bin Laden have been captured or killed five, six or even eight years earlier?
In the aftermath of the New York and Washington attacks, there were silly rumors that the U.S. government had somehow created the attacks or allowed them to move forward. This missed the point. The government encouraged the national overreaction to the attacks and puffed up every bit of fear about both the middle east and Iraq to create the basis for two wars. By insisting that terrorism would be “the battle of this generation”, the government scared the nation into spending nearly one trillion dollars for those wars and countless billions on airport “security” and for security measures at government buildings throughout the nation.
The government doesn’t have to lie to the public to get what it wants. Careful exaggeration, along with a climate of fear, will usually take care of the job for them, especially when a compliant news media plays along repeating what they are told without question. (This was seen just last evening as the network newscasts expanded for the night to one hour and broadcast the continued fear mongering of many “terrorism experts”, including the New York City chief of police, with dire warnings about our future.)
The massive response of the American government in terms of launching two wars was out of all proportion to the actual threat, just as the overdone security measures at the airports overplayed the potential for future hijackings or bombings. It is time to change plans. Bush, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld are gone, never to return, any of them, to power in Washington, DC.
We cannot ensure that the government of Afghanistan, will be forever kind to American interests. It can’t be done. If a future threat develops, there or elsewhere, we have shown we have the power and the force to act to limit or stop that threat. We could stay in Afghanistan for another fifty years and six months after we left, something could happen. As it is, we are trying to use military power to prevent future threats from developing. We are chasing ghosts and the ghost to me looks like our own fears, not reality.
Doug Terry, 5.5.11