Monday, June 23, 2014

Osama bin Laden's Real Goals

I’m writing this partly as a response to an article by Allen Clifton, who’s basically a mouthpiece for the Democrats. In a typically uninspired piece of drivel, he questions whether George W. Bush ended up giving Osama bin Laden “exactly what he wanted.” Clifton then goes on to list how Bush plunged us into debt, got us involved in unwinnable wars, and wrecked the economy. This, Clifton seems to sincerely believe, was exactly what bin Laden wanted all along.

If I were a right-winger, I would be writing about why the economy wasn’t Bush’s fault, Obama’s been worse on the debt, and the wars worked, or something equally vapid. But that’s not the part I take issue with. Clifton is right—Bush had a hand in destroying the economy, and he is responsible for both fouling up the war in Afghanistan and starting a completely unnecessary one in Iraq. Instead, I’d rather address the idea that Osama bin Laden’s goal all along was just to cause the United States the most damage possible.

Firstly, I want to make it clear that I’m not defending bin Laden by any means. Like just about every mass slaughter of innocent civilians (including the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki), the terrorist attacks bin Laden orchestrated are absolutely unjustified, in my view. Furthermore, there is no doubting his religious extremism, which is a characteristic I condemn in virtually everyone. But there’s no point in distorting the truth to make Osama bin Laden look worse than he was, which is what Clifton and countless others have done.

Clifton isn’t wrong to think that Osama bin Laden wanted to cause serious harm to the United States, but he is wrong to think that bin Laden wanted to do that as an end in and of itself. There shouldn’t even be a controversy over bin Laden’s motivations by this point in time—the man himself spelled them out:

“God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers but after the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982 and the events that followed - when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the US sixth fleet.

“In those difficult moments many emotions came over me which are hard to describe, but which produced an overwhelming feeling to reject injustice and a strong determination to punish the unjust.

“As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way [and] to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women.”

These are quotes from a speech bin Laden made, where he also compared the Patriot Act (another thing Clifton thinks he must have loved) to the tyranny of Arab rulers, and mentioned that states that don’t threaten the security of Muslims would see no threat from al-Qaeda. It should be obvious to anyone who reads the spech that bin Laden wasn’t some comic book villain who wanted to see America suffer for the sake of suffering. What he wanted was an end to the American support for persecution and oppression in the Middle East. And, truth be told, anyone who supports the actions the US government has committed in the past is in no place to condemn bin Laden. Bin Laden killed innocents because he foolishly hoped it would lead to less murder of his own people. The US government has killed innocents for far weaker reasons—Bush and Cheney killed maybe a few hundred thousand in a war for oil (and yes, I am saying Bush and Cheney are worse criminals than Osama bin Laden. If there were any justice in the world, they would be forcibly put in Iraq as humanitarian workers, to clean up the mess they made out of that country).

When we demonize people like bin Laden instead of actually looking at their motivations and seeing what we can take from them, we don’t do anyone any favors. The cruel, bloody policy we’ve continued to take in the Middle East doesn’t just murder the women and children bin Laden spoke about, it almost ensures that we will have more Osama bin Ladens, and more Americans dying in terrorist attacks committed by angry extremists who want us to feel the pain our government has put them through.

I’m sure in the minds of every “patriotic” American, this post makes me some kind of apologist for “the terrorists.” The truth is, I don’t condone terrorism regardless of whom it’s done by. The people who defend our government, on the other hand, are apologists for some of the worst acts of terrorism in human history. Bin Laden and the people who follow him decided to use our own methods against us, in some deluded hope that this would change the suffering of their people. Putting aside the morality of their actions (which I’ve made clear are actions I consider unjustifiable), they must know nothing about America to think their methods would have a chance. Our government doesn’t care how many Americans die (how else can you explain that we were led into a war that would increase the terrorist threat against us?), and Americans at this point don’t seem to be able to work up the motivation to challenge much of anything their government does. I guess Clifton’s version of history is more appealing though—that way we could justify the fact that nothing’s changed.

No comments:

Post a Comment