President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden with great formality and solemnity tonight. This news has the potential to change our nation’s direction for good. It will be interesting to see what happens next as the global hoax that is the War on Terror (war of terror, more like) is getting wound down. That seems to be the natural course for things to take: We set out to kill bin Laden and we finally did it nearly 10 years later. It makes narrative sense to wrap this story up and move on.
And that’s what it is: A narrative, a story. The president took no questions and presented no evidence, be it DNA, a scrap of clothing, a gun, a flack jacket or even a Quran. No, what he did was tell a story. First, he told the story of 9/11, using the simplest terms and the broadest strokes, but identifying al-Qaeda as the perpetrator. Then he told a tale of how he was given intel on bin Laden’s possible whereabouts, followed up and eventually gave the order to move in and capture/kill.
Beyond the Official Stories
Seems simple enough until you remember that Osama bin Laden had been on dialysis as far back as 2000 because of a kidney disorder that the CIA said would kill him by 2010 at the latest. He also took time out his busy schedule to meet with the CIA shortly before 9/11; receiving last-minute instructions no doubt. The War on Terror has been fake from the beginning. Al-Qaeda was created by the CIA to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan back in the 80s; they never really left. They’ve been operating in the hills crossing Afghanistan and Pakistan ever since. The ISI, Pakistan’s version of the CIA, has been instrumental in this whole affair.
The whole government-sponsored astroturfing of the al-Qaeda brand is an interesting tale in itself. If you have time I highly recommend watching The Power of Nightmares, a BBC documentary about how fear is used to control the populace and how threats like Al-Qaeda are magnified or even created in order to manipulate the masses.
That’s how things went during the Bush and Blair years, but we’re seeing a new path emerging ahead. Is Obama showing the way out of the War on Terror’s Twisted Hall of Mirrors?
A Chance for Obama to Show his Quality
That’s what he has the chance to do. Will he seize it? It all comes down to what you think about Obama. He’s a tough guy to figure out. Don’t listen to the Birthers and the racists and the Islamophobes and the knee-jerk conservatives. Hate Obama if you want, but you should at least take the time to figure out why you hate him. There’s certainly a lot to take issue with on civil liberties, the escalation in Afghanistan, his dopey dismissal of the marijuana legalization movement, the limping economy and the way his administration has handled Bradley Manning. But I’m not convinced we can paint Obama with the tyrant brush. Tea Partiers who compare him with Hitler are out of their minds. GW Bush killed probably over a million people in Iraq and Afghanistan all told, but Obama has only a few hundred deaths by his order (which is not great, but seems to be par the course for American presidents). This new death is probably more of an illusion than reality, but it seems to be a lie with a somewhat more noble purpose than Bush’s lies leading to the invasion of Iraq. Obama is no saint, but painting him as a sinner like the Bushes is bit much.
Who is Barack Obama? A smooth operator, for one. He knows the game of politics as well as anybody. He has a way of floating above the fray. His “take the high road” approach is not an occasional tactic; it’s at the core of his strategy as a politician. But there are many times when a politician can only take the “somewhat less than the lowest part of the gutter road” because the political establishment has aligned itself in such a way that there are no good options. This happens quite a bit, unfortunately. The whole Beltway establishment is invested in the War on Terror and the Hunt for Bin Laden. You can’t just show up on the first day in office and pull the plug on the media’s favorite storyline. You’ve got to write the next couple chapters, as Obama did by ramping up our forces in Afghanistan — the Afghan Surge.
Next Obama set up the operation that would provide the cover to announce what he wanted to announce 2.5 years ago, but couldn’t because telling the truth in Washington is a good way to get mocked and ridiculed — or even assassinated.
No doubt bin Laden has been dead for quite some time; running around with a dialysis machine while being chased by American special forces in the wasteland of Tora Bora is not a good way to extend your lifespan. Around 2003 or 2004 Osama bin Laden stopped making videos… so the CIA and Intelcenter started making some fake videos for him! Most likely he was dead by then but the Bushies wanted to continue using Osama to spread fear and justify the War on Terror so they kept it quiet. Benazir Bhutto mentioned that Bin Laden was dead and managed to get assassinated herself shortly thereafter.
Stories Matter. Evidence? Not so much.
Was Obama able to procure bin Laden’s body? Who knows, but the physical evidence doesn’t really matter that much from a political point of view. The evidence has never mattered. There was never any evidence directly connecting bin Laden with 9/11 any way. The FBI never even put it on his wanted poster. There was never a good explanation for why 2 planes hit 2 buildings and yet 3 buildings fell down. A lot of people don’t even know about WTC Building 7 even though it was a 40+ story office building that hosted office space for the CIA, SEC, Secret Service and many more. A lot of people don’t know that the BBC reported that the building had collapsed before it did, despite it happening at 5 in the afternoon after some minor fires.
Evidence, I’m afraid, does not matter in Washington. What matters is the ability to tell stories and have people believe you. George W. Bush told a story about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The story turned out to not be true later, but it was too late by then. That story had given the neo-cons the cover they needed to invade, and once that was done they cast it aside and didn’t bother to defend its veracity anymore.
Stories are powerful. They don’t even have to be plausible to get us hooked. Remember the story about bin Laden hiding in huge James Bond villain-esque underground fortress with cave entrances that Donald Rumsfeld told? Yeah, that was another fake story. But it worked, didn’t it?
Osama bin Laden was our bogeyman, our Emmanuel Goldstein, our Ernst Blofeld, our Commie-Nazi enemy par excellence. He was straight out of a James Bond movie and the mainstream media went wild with his tale, elevating him to Darth Vader status in our collective imagination. The stories were endless and they all came back to fear — that is if this guy seemed remotely threatening to you (he always seemed a bit fey and soft to me). The story always ended with the government needing more power to fight this shadowy enemy. Don’t ask questions, just let the nice man grope you at the airport.
The great thing about imaginary wars is that you can imagine a conclusion to them whenever you want. That seems to be what Obama has done to his near namesake, Osama. Now the story is over. People can start to relax, right? I’ve seen a bunch of people on Twitter asking if we still have to take our shoes off at the airport.
“Can we travel with big shampoo again??!”
“Guy on CNN, “Killing Osama ends the war on Terrorism.” Yeah, um, does that mean I can have more than 3.4oz of liquids in my carry on?”
“Ok. So *now* can we start the 21st century?”
“Is gas still $4+? :/”
It’s time to end this story and start a new one. A better one.
In a brilliant move to avoid being discovered, the Obama administration has said that bin Laden’s body will be treated in accordance with Islamic law. That means it will be buried within 24 hours.
Update: They claim they buried him at sea! No one will ever find the body now! So, we hunt for this guy for almost 10 years and first thing we do after catching him is chuck his body over the side of a boat? Okay…. (By the way, Abbottabad, where the operation took place, is hundreds of miles from the ocean.) I did some quick research on Islamic Burial Law and guess what — burial at sea is only permissible if the corpse would start to decay or cause problems:
620. * It is obligatory to bury a dead body in the ground, so deep that its smell does not come out and the beasts of prey do not dig it out, and, if there is a danger of such beasts digging it out then the grave should be made solid with bricks, etc.
621. If it is not possible to bury a dead body in the ground, it may be kept in a vault or a coffin, instead.
622. The dead body should be laid in the grave on its right side so that the face remains towards the Qibla.
623. * If a person dies on a ship and if there is no fear of the decay of the dead body and if there is no problem in retaining it for sometime on the ship, it should be kept on it and buried in the ground after reaching the land. Otherwise, after giving Ghusl, Hunut, Kafan and Namaz-e-Mayyit it should be lowered into the sea in a vessel of clay or with a weight tied to its feet. And as far as possible it should not be lowered at a point where it is eaten up immediately by the sea predators. [emphasis mine]
It would’ve been perfectly acceptable to keep the body in a coffin until the Navy returned it to American shores. Instead, they decided to dispose of the evidence — if there even was a body in the first place. It’s perfect — they don’t have to show us anything, except maybe some grainy photographs a few weeks later. This is a smart move on Obama’s part; Islam provides cover for the quick burial (or at least enough to keep Islam-ignorant Americans satisfied) and Obama can pretend he did it to appease Muslims. He also made a point of saying we were not at war with Islam during his speech. Most Americans won’t question the obvious because they’re so glad to finally be rid of Bin Laden and Muslims won’t raise a stink in the hopes that America will stop persecuting them.
Obama is finally mopping up the remnants of the Bush administration’s horrible stench. The Global War on Terror, the Invasion of Iraq, the Hunt for Bin Laden, the Crusade Against Islam — all of these elaborate tales are being given their dénouement. And all on the anniversary of the announcement of Hitler’s death in 1945, too. It all seems so staged, but Obama has to play the game if he wants to change the rules. And now that he has successfully wrapped up Bush’s parade of lies Obama will reap the benefits of it in his approval rating. It also buys him more time to sort out the economy, which was teetering on the edge of utter collapse. Obama, in his deceitful way, has given us hope.
Are we finally free from the clutches of the powerful cabal that still strangles the world under the economic tyranny wielded by the Federal Reserve’s fiat money system? No, but we do have some breathing room and the wind at our backs for once.
I must be getting so old and cynical that I’m not really bothered by Obama’s go-along to get-along deception, perhaps because he understands the power of stories and how they can affect our collective mood. Obama has given us the happy ending we wanted when this story started 10 years ago. Who cares if it wasn’t a true ending? The beginning wasn’t true and neither was the middle. It was all a big fairy tale to cause fear, mistrust and anger, which the neo-cons could then use to make one last stab at complete world domination. But they failed, and now they’ve let Obama act as a Presidential Pooper-Scooper and clean up the office for the next deranged neo-fascist warmonger. But Obama is making the most of his role and moving us forward in a way that might push him to an easy re-election (given that the GOP’s leading candidates are either punchlines or wallpaper) and spare us another dip into madness for awhile. If he plays his cards right he might just tell us enough stories to permanently put the American oligarchy out of business. We’ll see. It’s a lot to ask of a guy, but these are stressful, dangerous times. We’re staring at so many economic, political and environmental problems that to do nothing is suicide. The Shadow Government thrives in the darkness. But expose it to the light and it shrivels up like a snake’s skin. Obama needs to seize this moment and move forward boldly to push his agenda (which manifestly seems to be much more positive than Bush’s even though Obama is not perfect by any stretch).
It’s strange that he’s been parrying with a man named Trump recently over his birth certificate. First he laid down the long-form certificate in question (a low-res PDF…), and how he’s played his presidential trump card to great effect, with perfect timing and excellent execution.
All Part of the Plan
He even seems to be trying to make friends with Pakistan, praising the country for its help (despite not clearly indicating that he asked permission to launch such a mission in their country) and hopefully signaling a withdrawal from that country’s western mountain-land. In another amazing “coincidence”, Pakistan/US relations are at an all-time low after CIA agent Raymond Davis killed two ISI agents on the streets of Islamabad and was arrested (and outed as CIA) by the Pakistanis. Obama really had no choice but to end the charade since the CIA could no longer freely operate in Pakistan; hundreds agents were being kicked out by the local government (there are supposedly 3,000 CIA spooks operating in Pakistan — and that’s the official number! One can only imagine how many there really are). Now that Obama has done so, he has the political cover necessary to drastically scale back the CIA’s operation in Pakistan and eventually get us out of Afghanistan, too. We’re looking at a whole new national security paradigm.
In another timing “coincidence” Obama just reshuffled his national security team as Secretary of Defense Gates retires again and Leon Panetta replaces him, who, as head of the CIA, needs to be replaced, which opens the door for Petraeus to step into the role. And that’s not the only ground-shaking national security event that has taken place in the last week or so! There was a new national security grand strategy floated by the office of Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces (all the heads of each branch of the military). It replaces the “containment” strategy that the US used during the Cold War — and even afterwards since it was not replaced, only tweaked for the War on Terror era, which is now ending. The new document is credited to a Mr. Y, the pseudonymous follower of the Containment Strategy’s Mr. X. The new document suggests ways to shrink the military and completely realign our national security posture. Look at these 5 key strategic shifts:
- From control in a closed system to credible influence in an open system.
- From containment to sustainment.
- From deterrence and defense to civilian engagement and competition.
- From zero sum to positive sum global politics/economics.
- From national security to national prosperity and security.
Read the whole National Security Narrative article here. They even use the same story metaphor I’ve been using in this post:
A narrative is a story. A national strategic narrative must be a story that all Americans can understand and identify with in their own lives. America’s national story has always see-sawed between exceptionalism and universalism.
A New Hope?
Obama is ending the Bush-era story of terror and beginning a new narrative of peace. It’s hard to overstate just how incredibly important this change is to our nation. Prepare for a couple weeks of breathless analysis from the media. No doubt few people will point out how ridiculous the whole story is — it’s too much fun to ruin it with reality. Nobody will question why Navy Seals were involved (in the most mountainous and landlocked part of Pakistan), or how Osama managed to live in a million dollar mansion undetected for months (even years) and nobody will question a dialysis patient supposedly firing his gun at US troops (but missing — bad guys have bad aims, right Hollywood?) or that Osama was hiding just 50 miles from the capital of Pakistan. But that’s besides the point. The point is that we have a chance to write a new future that doesn’t include the paranoia, aggression and hatred that the Bush admin’s narrative did. We can unify the world under peace instead of terror. Let’s all celebrate this happy news, even if it is totally fraudulent. Why? Because buried at sea along with Osama Bin Laden is the War on Terror, the Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan and the whole wretched Bush presidency. Good riddance to them all.
Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead!
This story is old and played out. Let’s write a new one that includes peace and unity throughout the world… and beyond.