2.5.11

Death Be Not Proud: Osama the Caveman?

Death Be Not Proud: Osama the Caveman?
by Farzana Versey
Counterpunch, May 2, 2011

We cannot say it was only a matter of time. We can say it is good timing. Barack Obama makes an announcement about the US killing Osama bin Laden, but there is not a word from him about NATO forces murdering the Libyan leader’s youngest son and grandchildren even as there were rumours that Muammar Gaddafi may join the al Qaeda, as though he is some ordinary recruit looking to use his skills.

The US forces have been in Pakistan and Afghanistan for a long time now, so what happened on Sunday, May 1, that finally brought the strapping “most wanted terrorist” in the line of fire, not in some hideout but in Abbotabad, not far from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad? If he was in that country for a long time, what prevented any “targeted operation” earlier? They had got leads since August. Al Jazeera states that the intelligence authorities traced him through his couriers. Osama bin Laden had been openly using identifiable couriers to connect with his team? Are we to believe that a man who has eluded every attempt to be caught for almost ten years, even after sending videotapes of himself, left himself open to such assault? Since none of the “small team of Americans” died, it was obviously not a bloody skirmish.

“After a firefight they killed bin Laden.” Was Osama alone? What was he doing at the time? Who else was killed? They say one of his sons and two trusted aides and an unidentified woman. The CIA watched the operations live and then the men took the body to Afghanistan and buried him at sea. According to NBC News this was done because Islamic tradition mandates that a body should be buried within 24 hours, but it would have been difficult to find takers for it elsewhere.

Are they telling us that a criminal is being treated humanely in death and they are following Islamic rituals? If he has been buried, then how can the body be “in American possession”? After creating havoc in different parts of the world to get at this man and his terror network, it is the business of the United States of America to show us the money. Tell us exactly who they have got and how and with whose assistance. The tepid version of Pakistani co-operation that “helped to lead us to him” won’t do, because if the Pakistanis were so smart, they would not have problems with the Taliban that have reached their cities. The Taliban is not in Manhattan.

This business about death is not about Osama at all. It is about Barack Obama and his need to prove himself in times of recession and his own identity. His televised pronouncements and other statements clearly reveal that he is running an election:

“Tonight, I can report to the people of the United States and the world, the United States had carried an operation that has killed Osama Bin Laden, a terrorist responsible for killing thousands of innocent people. Today, at my direction, the United States carried out that operation... they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date against al-Qaeda.”

No. One man’s death is not an achievement. He was a phantom figure, and the US has been fighting demons of straw. Is it even necessary to reiterate the historical genesis of al Qaeda and the making of bin Laden and CIA’s role in it? While the Saddam-Gaddafi prototypes, dictatorial within their shores, put up a fight against the US, Osama was beyond boundaries. He had no homeland and represented no nationality. He became as anti-Saudi as he was anti-American.

As I type out “was”, I hesitate, for the possibility of a puppet corpse keeps flitting through my mind. 2012 is the year Obama could get re-elected. A ‘mummy’s’ boy would be such an adored creature, never mind if the real mommies are fighting against tax, and for health and senior citizen’s benefits.

But the president is playing his cards well:

“We must also reaffirm that United States is not and will never be at war against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, in fact, he slaughtered many Muslims.” 

By saying this, he exposes a lack of statesmanship. There is no need for the US to reaffirm any such thing because a stance of this kind is a projection of an archetype. Had he not slaughtered Muslims – as a matter of fact, he has not done much of the slaughtering himself and even keeping the ‘network’ in mind much less than what the governments of the world have done – then would he be considered a Muslim leader?

The revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa are resulting in Muslim deaths, so would these leaders be deemed as “not Muslim”? The Taliban carries out operations in mosques and shrines – are they “not Muslim”? What kind of facetious contention is this?

Many Americans, and quite a bit of the American media, tend to ask pointed questions. Here, their attention is being diverted. The NATO operations in Libya are serious cause for concern, but Obama has just given his people a reason to gather outside the White House and sing the national anthem and wave flags. It is rather interesting that such street enthusiasm comes for the establishment, while there are countries whose protests are being taken over by these same establishments operating from their high-ceilinged caves.


It is not surprising that former president George Bush, the one who imagined weapons of mass destruction and declared ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Iraq, is quite happy that his good work is being carried out.

“The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done,” he said.
Where is there justice in this? Was there ever any targeted operation against Osama? No. Civilian areas were flattened out. Was there evidence of Osama’s direct involvement in any of the operations that took place later? No. Was Osama guiding the Taliban? No. The Taliban of today is entirely different, in that it has a regressive agenda, and the US can take credit for it. Societies that were at least socially quite progressive returned to religious regimes. The ‘crusades’ that Bush and even Bill Clinton fought needed men in robes.

It is foolish to suggest that the Pakistani army works in tandem with the Taliban for there has been a traditional conflict of interests, from the idea of tribal loyalties to its more contemporary issues with polity. In a two-pronged comment, Mark Kimmit, a US military analyst, echoes Bush’s remarks when he says:

“Capturing or killing bin Laden has more iconic value. It will have symbolic value, because it has been a number of years since bin Laden has exercised day to day control over operations. We still have an al-Qaeda threat out there and that will be there for a number of years. This organisation (al-Qaeda) is more than bin Laden, it may be symbolised by bin Laden, but it definitely is more than bin Laden.”
This means that the US will continue its ‘war against terror’ irrespective of all the symbols and the imaginary stuff it manages to get hold of. Keeping the phobia alive is important for local politics as well as to retain its own symbolism with the most important veto power in the United Nations, which has been its hand-maiden. The response to the news from world leaders is more revealing of them than of Osama.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said without a blink:

“This is a resounding triumph for justice, freedom and the values shared by all democratic nations fighting shoulder to shoulder in determination against terrorism.” 

Democratic nation? Terrorism? Who grounded the flotilla and who is pounding the Gaza Strip?

P. Chidambaram, the Indian home minister, is as expected catering to the home theatre crowd:

“We take note with grave concern that part of the statement in which (US) President Obama said that the firefight in which Osama bin Laden was killed took place in Abbotabad 'deep inside Pakistan'. This fact underlines our concern that terrorists belonging to different organisations find sanctuary in Pakistan.”

He and the Indian government have often said it, so why is he gravely concerned now? Does the Indian government not know about underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s address in Karachi, which is not even deep inside Pakistan? Why has there been no concerted effort to get him?

Terrorism exists and it must be fought, but by the countries directly affected by the extremist movements that seek root or infiltrate through the borders and not by a select group of people who take it upon themselves to push their own xenophobic agenda.


We do not know if, as many in the West believe, Osama’s heroism will be mourned. However, if some Americans can come out at Ground Zero and celebrate his death because of the personal suffering of those who died in the 9/11 attacks, then there are large sections of the populations of the world who have every right to come out in the streets and mourn the death of symbolism. For, in the name of such a totem everyday they are losing their lives, their families, their homes, their livelihood and every shred of dignity in several Ground Zeroes. They are always considered suspects.

Barack Obama, the Commander-in-Chief of the US army must now command his men to leave lands that are not theirs and spare the lives of thousands. This will be the true meaning of liberty and an end to the ‘war against terror’.

Osama bin Laden has been a ghost who talked more than walked. So, who did they kill?

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Also published in Countercurrents

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Update: A re-reading of an old piece Laden Vs. Dostoevsky seems appropriate.

20 comments:

  1. FV,

    1. Stop asking rhetorical questions. Osama uncle is dead and still floating somewhere in Arbian sea. You see there aren't too many sharks in there.
    2. Pak is damned if they admit to helping USA and damned if they say we didn't know. Islamic halal chicken have come home to roost!
    3. The next step is to get Pak to turn into a secular state so that this religious nonsense is over for good.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Robert Fisk - journalist

    Osama bin Laden was the founder of al-Qaeda, but to suggest that he was in command, sitting in some computer cave, is completely rubbish.

    He spent most of his time hiding, most of his time running from the US authorities.

    I never thought he would hang around long in Afghanistan but in Pakistan he had a soft spot. He felt safer in Pakistan than he did in Afghanistan, and I think that is correct.

    You have to realise that bin Laden is a very popular mind, even with the royalty.

    (I am not sure if I agree with this but he certainly had following).

    He was saying things about the West, which their dictators wouldn't say, his condemnation of the West, and he had to say it from a cave.

    (Uber-Philosopher hitesh: I can't quite make out what he was saying about West but it was quite clear what he wanted to do about West and it was not very different from what West generally likes to do about the East.

    He is a figure who would be reflected upon.

    Not really. he will be forgotten faster than a Superbowl ad. The brand he promoted (Al-Qaeda) may be around longer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Farzana,
    Excellent.
    Especially, these ones from your posting......
    "However, if some Americans can come out at Ground Zero and celebrate his death because of the personal suffering of those who died in the 9/11 attacks, then there are large sections of the populations of the world who have every right to come out in the streets and mourn the death of symbolism. For, in the name of such a totem everyday they are losing their lives, their families, their homes, their livelihood and every shred of dignity in several Ground Zeroes. They are always considered suspects. "
    And
    "Barack Obama, the Commander-in-Chief of the US army must now command his men to leave lands that are not theirs and spare the lives of thousands. This will be the true meaning of liberty and an end to the ‘war against terror’."
    Following steals the cake, though...
    "Osama bin Laden has been a ghost who talked more than walked. So, who did they kill?".
    Cheers,
    Mahesh.

    ReplyDelete
  4. May be now is the time to demand that US pull out their troops from Afghanistan. There's no reason for them to be there anymore. Leave the Afghans alone now, I think they suffered enough already with all the bombing being done by US.

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  5. One of the finest on the subject better than mainstream media. Wish it could reach out to more. Get on twitter!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. FV
    [[This business about death is not about Osama at all. It is about Barack Obama and his need to prove himself in times of recession and his own identity. His televised pronouncements and other statements clearly reveal that he is running an election]]

    You got it quite right. The smartest piece ever. Yes, there is Osama's gost got killed....LOL

    Now, this gost must be in paradise with 70 virgins....and in this world this will be defining moment for Obama's pesidency which will help him to increase his poor ratings and in his re election.

    Yes, Obama got Osama...ohhhh...Obama got Osama.

    circle

    ReplyDelete
  7. FV
    Obama got Osama...Now, let the American circus begins with intense and heated debate among dems and republicans....One drama after another....

    Just wait and see...

    circle

    ReplyDelete
  8. Osama was whisked away from Tora Bora, housed and protected in the interest of Islam. Now, Osama is sacrificed in the interest of Islam. Hail the true Islamic state of Pakistan!!

    Is this some Islamic black comedy going on?

    Time for USA to get Pak to convert (pun intended) itself into a secular state with complete religious freedom for all. When a state which has 90% Muslim population and which was formed as an Islamic homeland for Muslims turns into a secular state, that will sound the death knell for all the religious fanaticism worldwide.

    Hope I live to see the day it happens...!

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  9. F&F:

    Stop your rhetoric of assuming I am asking rhetorical questions. He is not my uncle, and if there is a burial you are not supposed to float. No levitation in Islam. Pak halal chicken cannot come home to roost because they were always home, but what happens to the American kosher affiliations? And…er…how many secular states use religion too. Start counting.

    And you really are biting the bait of the underwater drama.

    Is this some Islamic black comedy going on?

    Ask the producers: Obama Inc.

    You think the US would want to convert Pakistan when this is their bread and butter?

    Your optimism is infectious. But if communism died in some parts of the world did it end the Left movement? Are 90 per cent dependent on fanaticism?

    I hope you live to see a bikini in Arabia, if you get a visa! Forget the minor things in life...

    Hitesh:

    Non Uber-pop psychologist FV:

    He would have been forgotten had his death not been as sly. You may forget the Superbowl ad, but not the Superbowl. Al Qaeda will be around not as his brand, but as the west’s fetish and toy.

    Mahesh:

    Thank you. Appreciate it.

    You were missing in action on May 1, so belated Maharashtra Divas greetings. They just don’t make them like us anywhere :)

    Sai Reddy:

    Now the US will get more aggressive and think of a “backlash”.

    Circle:

    Ah, but I am not sure if buried in the sea makes a person get all those benefits. Besides, would he go to heaven? As people keep saying, ask Obama. Maybe, next White House term he will install a statue of Osama and worship it.

    Ameya:

    I AM the mainstream, so what if not the expected? People do spread the good word and there are always little birdies.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Generally...

    Since Osama's corpse was not going to run away, why did the US not bring his body to America considering no one really knew about the operation? Now, one cannot even exhume a body in a sea burial, so there is some picture before he was immersed. No witnesses. Nothing. And was he not pronounced dead earlier? How many times must a man die before you can pronounce him dead?

    If for some weird reason they were following Islamic quick disposal practices, then the sea is not the right place. And was there a shroud to wrap the corpse in? Islam says so!

    At times like these I wish I wasn't a Muslim, even if as an accident of birth. The queries would not sound so 'jihadist', as I have been accused so often and a while ago in an email.

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  11. FV
    don't cha know? blinking right eye......Muslims always drown their bodies in the sea....and Navy seal with the help of great President zardari and Obama respected Muslim rituals...great!!!

    Also, they were told that real Muslims do not practice taking photos of their bodies and look how much more respectful they could be that they did not take even a single picture of the incidence.

    Osama's ghost with his 70 virgins must be the happiest man in paradise and Obama with his high chances of re election is the luckiest man in this planet earth....win win situation....

    God must be happy on His human creation!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. "which is not even deep inside Pakistan? Why has there been no concerted effort to get him?"

    It's because turncoats like you would promptly criticize anyone who tried to do so. For fucks sake, you were shedding tears for Kasab. I know you must be in mourning now that Osama is gone. Let's see how our so called cultural brethren Pakistanis deal with the fallout. They are the biggest behanchods on this planet.

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  13. FV,

    "At times like these I wish I wasn't a Muslim"

    I hope a similar thought sweeps across the minds of blindfolded Muslim masses across Arabia after Osama's unceremonious ascent to paradise.

    FV, I never accused you of being a Jehadist, only of having a soft corner for them!

    ReplyDelete
  14. F&F:

    My ref to 'not wanting to be a Muslim was because of slings and arrows. I don't really care 'what' I am in general terms always.

    It isn't only the Arabs who are blindfolded. Let us not let lies get away because we are blinded by prejudice.

    I don't have a spot for anyone. Did Narcissus?

    Anon:

    I think there is a lot of fun in these standard images being pulled out. I am in fact learning more about underwater adventure sports while figuring out what happens in the sea!

    - - -

    This blogger is proud to announce that Indian agencies are not making an effort to get Dawood Ibrahim because of her perceived stand:

    It's because turncoats like you would promptly criticize anyone who tried to do so.

    If people can research and find out where I have shed tears and I have not wiped them out and I stick my neck out and say exactly how I feel, then no coat has turned.

    But one-dimensional minds cannot read, let alone read between the lines and the implied ideas beyond the 'regular'.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hah: White House retracts version:

    From the Telegraph, UK:

    http://tinyurl.com/3bz6zp9

    Claims that the al-Qaeda leader had died while firing an automatic weapon at commandos were withdrawn, with President Barack Obama’s spokesman admitting “he was unarmed”. A dramatic description of bin Laden using his wife as a “human shield” and forcing her to sacrifice her life also proved to be false. The woman was still alive and was taken into custody with several of the terrorist’s children.

    In an embarrassing climb-down, Barack Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, admitted that the previous version of events — which came mostly from the chief US counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan — had been put out “with great haste”.


    Rest of the piece at the link...

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have got a mail expressing anguish about passing a comment with an expletive: "Even if you want to show their cult in public, it is very disturbing for a reader and admirer like me to experience this. I feel ashamed of their act."

    I would like to make clear that this is not something I encourage nor one-liners that claim to pose as arguments. I let this pass because it

    1. Reveals a certain mentaility and in the present context it seemed appropriate.

    2. In a review post of 'Yeh saali zindagi' I had mimicked the cuss words in the film, so felt it would be fair to let it pass. It is another matter that the two are vastly different and no one is fair here, anyway.

    Call it my temporary liberalism. If even one reader feels such anguish, I take responsibility for it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Conspiracy theories will flourish for years... but

    (1) Modi had nothing to do with Riots in Gujarat

    (2) Pakistani Military had no idea who was staying at a walled-off compound in the neighborhood of their elite Academy.

    (3) Catholic priest didn't know the Altar boy was really underage.

    (4) Indians truly wish for peace in Pakistan so they can go on living peacefully themselves as they have done for centuries.

    Which one of this is false (You can't get to say "all of the above").

    ReplyDelete
  18. FV
    Sorry, I forgot to write my nick(circle) in above anon post.

    don't cha know? is my post.

    circle

    PS:- Now that you know it is circle, then I am sure it is clear that we're not going in cirlces like American media is going over Osama's death...of course gruesome......lol

    Wife was fighting with Navy seals and got shot on legs....too, gruesome to be released....

    circle

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hitesh:

    3 is false because the priest did not check the birth certificate.

    Circle:

    I thought it was you...and yes it's an ongoing drama

    ReplyDelete
  20. here is yet another account of the events:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2293111/

    ReplyDelete

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