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May 2, 2011

Bin Laden's death will change nothing

The death of Osama Bin Laden deprives Islamic fundamentalist terrorism of a key symbol but its impact will be rather more obvious in the Western media than either in the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalists, or in the military ventures and systematic restrictions on civil liberties.

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The death of Osama Bin Laden deprives Islamic fundamentalist terrorism of a key symbol but its impact will be rather more obvious in the Western media than either in the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalists, or in the military ventures and systematic restrictions on civil liberties occasioned by the “war on terror” launched by 9/11.

If anything, the reported location of the military operation that killed him, Abbottabad in Pakistan, raises more questions about the United States’s relationship with that country and the incapacity or unwillingness of the Pakistani Government to play the sort of role in dealing with Islamic fundamentalist aggression expected by the West. The role in the operation of Pakistan’s intelligence service, suspected of protecting Bin Laden for years, will be a matter of profound interest.

The death of the architect of such an historic act of mass slaughter will, understandably, be the basis for an outburst of nationalist joy in the US. But Bin Laden’s significance in the global war on terror has surely been marginal for years, particularly given al-Qaeda’s growing reliance on homegrown terrorism, in which Muslims radicalized by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and fundamentalist scholars in their midst, have started their own jihads, without having to rely on a fractured international terrorist group or a man living in hiding in Pakistan.

Indeed, let’s not forget that one of Bin Laden’s key goals in developing the plans that led to 9/11 – remember originally it was a much bigger operation to involve dozens of airliners – was to so infuriate the West and the US in particular that it would wildly lash out at the Muslim world, thereby accomplishing what al-Qaeda had hitherto been unable to itself – radicalizing entire generations of young Muslims across the world and send them into combat against the West.

In this, at least Bin Laden was partly successful. As a British diplomat noted during his second term, George W. Bush became the “best recruiting agent al-Qaeda ever had.”

His death, however, won’t change the amorphous “war on terror” – a phrase abandoned as inconvenient during the Blair years – which embraces the minutiae of what you can take onto planes, western indulgence of Middle Eastern dictators, the increasingly pointless western presence in Afghanistan, and the systematic abrogation of basic civil liberties not merely for Muslims unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but for westerners as well.

There’ll be no repeal of the violations of civil liberties embedded in the criminal codes of western countries, no expedited withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, no US shift to support democracy in the Middle East at the expense of its client dictators. The war goes on, and governments won’t relinquish the wartime powers they’ve accrued, however much they may exploit the death of Bin Laden.

There is, however, a certain coincidental aspect to the timing of Bin Laden’s death. As young Arabs take to the streets across the Middle East to drive their dictators from power, as once secure bulwarks against Islamic fundamentalism like Tunisia’s Ben Ali. Egypt’s Mubarak and even the once-“mad dog of the Middle East”-turned-Western-favourite Muammar Gaddafi lose power, al-Qaeda has looked less relevant than ever.

Ultimately Bin Laden’s success wasn’t enough. It is not fundamentalism to which Middle Eastern youth are now turning, but to freedom from tyranny, persecution and censorship. The values for which the young people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Syria are marching and dying are completely antithetical to those espoused by this mass murderer and his henchmen.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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90 comments

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90 thoughts on “Bin Laden’s death will change nothing

  1. MLF

    SBH – you might want to read today’s Crikey Clarifier if you have not done so already.

  2. MLF

    SBH – interesting. First you say there is so much contradiction in my posts that its not possible to discuss these things with me, to which I was going to reply – if there are contradictions in my posts (which I’m not sure I agree with but that’s my view so can’t rule it out) its because the world is a big, ugly, fierce, contradictory place and there is nothing more complex than international relations.

    And then you beat me to the punch and post a wiki quote saying exactly that – the world is a contradictory place.

    As for generally verifiable – yes, if my opinion is of interest to you, everything you quote above looks sound. But it doesn’t answer your questions and it doesn’t alter any situation.

    The reason we are having this tete-a-tete is (I think) is because of the following quote:

    “Bernard, extra-judicial killing implies no legal process – and while the 1998 indictment of OBL did not warrant or call for his death, he was indicted, there was process. That said, he was also a hostile combatant in a declared war – and citing extra-judicial killing in war is contentious. I’m not necessarily arguing with you, I’m just saying there are two sides to the debate.”

    Note I said: I’m not necessarily arguing with you, I’m just saying there are two sides to the debate.

    I maintain that action in Afgh was authorised by the UNSC 1386. I maintain the OBL was a combatant in a war. Half the world agrees with me. The other half does not. I can live with that. I’m not trying to beat you around the head and make you (or anyone) see my way (although I do often beat people around the head to try to get them to see ANOTHER way), and I remain open to different points of view and reasoned, thoughtful argument.

    So, unless there’s anything else, shall we just agree to disagree on this one?

  3. SBH

    Only Wiki but generally verifiable

    The United Nations Charter, to which all the Coalition countries are signatories, provides that all UN member states must settle their international disputes peacefully and no member nation can use military force except in self-defense. The United States Constitution states that international treaties, such as the United Nations Charter, that are ratified by the U.S. are part of the law of the land in the U.S., though subject to effective repeal by any subsequent act of Congress (i.e., the “leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant” or “last in time” canon of statutory interpretation)[87] The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) did not authorize the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom).

    Defenders of the legitimacy of the U.S.-led invasion argue that U.N. Security Council authorization was not required since the invasion was an act of collective self-defense provided for under Article 51 of the UN Charter, and therefore was not a war of aggression.[87][88] Critics maintain that the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan were not legitimate self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter because the 9/11 attacks were not “armed attacks” by another state but rather were perpetrated by groups of individuals or non-state actors. Further, even if a state had perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, no bombing campaign would constitute self-defense; the necessity for self-defense must be “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”.[89]

  4. SBH

    MLF it’s a waste of time. There’s so much contradiction in what you post it’s just not possible to discuss these points with you.

  5. MLF

    Factually:

    I did not ask you why you hate America.

    Declaring war does exactly that. Thats why its called declaring WAR.

    You did not ask me to explain what I meant. You told me my definition was contentious. I did however explain why I believed that not to be the case.

    UNSC Resolution 1386, 12 September 2001.

    Yes, you are correct, the US is not at war with Pakistan. I do not recall saying that they were, but thanks for clearing it up for me.

    “Executive Order 12333 prohibits assassination as a matter of national policy, but does not expound on its meaning or application. The clandestine, low visibility or overt use of military force against legitimate targets in time of war, or against similar targets in time of peace where such individuals or groups pose an immediate threat to United States citizens or the national security of the United States, as determined by competent authority, does not constitute assassination or conspiracy to engage in assassination, and would not be prohibited by the proscription in EO 12333 or by international law.” US Department of State, Memorandum of Law, December 1989.

  6. SBH

    Thanks, I was waiting for someone to ask me why I hate America?

    Just to recap, all I said was your definition was contentious (self evident really given the posts) And further that just yelling “it’s war!’ doesn’t automatically give you the right to start shooting people. You asserted that Bin Laden was ‘a hostile combatant in a declared war’. and I just asked you to explain what that meant. My question stemed from your incomplete explanation rather than my incomplete thinking.

    Factually:
    There was no UNSC resolution to invade Afghanistan. They just did it.

    And the US is not at war with Pakistan

    And there is a presidential order prohibiting assasinations.

  7. MLF

    The last time you looked? Yes, that may be right if the last time you looked was 2003.

    SBH, you made a point, I said it was a fair point but also pointed out that your thinking was incomplete.

    If you do not concur that OBL was the head of AQ, that the US gained UNSC Resolution to take military action against Afg because they were hiding and supporting AQ, and that the US went into Afg to take down / take out AQ, then, well, good for you, but I’m not sure even OBL would have countered that version of events.

    Even if you do not concur with above I find it difficult to understand how you can say that OBL was not a combatant in the war he declared against the US – unless you don’t believe what he himself said in his fatwa and video messages.

    Either way, you think the US are the bad guys. Thats fine, I have no interest in arguing that with you. Unless you are very different to most of the others on this board that means you also think that OBL should have been left to leave happy and peacefully in the hills of Pakistan.

  8. SBH

    Or perhaps the question is which UNSC resolution authorised anyone to fly into another country and start shooting.

  9. SBH

    So which war is that again? In which ‘declared war’ was Bin Laden a ‘hostile combatant’ As for the UNSC, last time I looked the US didn’t really care what the UN thought.

  10. Elan

    That’s OK. then.

  11. MLF

    Fair point, SBH, but I was not referring to the ‘war on terror’ which, since the first time it was uttered I have only been able to write in inverted commas.

    The US have not declared war, in the old declaration of war sense, since WWII when they entered the war after being bombed at Pearl Harbour.

    The world has changed a little since then though, significantly we now have the United Nations and military action, hell lets just call it war, is sanctioned by the UNSC. It is not considered good international conduct to unilaterally declare war – a major part of the reason that Iraq II was so unpalatable and why the US will always be regarded with contempt.

    So no, America did not unilaterally say ‘we are going to war with Afg’ – they said it with a UNSC Resolution, a declaration of war in the post WWII / UN era.

  12. SBH

    nice casual r*cism John.

    MLF your definition on war is contentious. Yes the US has declared ‘war on terror’ except it wasn’t declared in the way that , say the War on Japan was declared. It’s just a political catch phrase. You might equally argue that declaring war on petrol prices allows you to shoot BP executives.

  13. Johnfromplanetearth

    So Osama finally gets a bullet in the brain and what does our Foreign Minister KRudd announce on the same day? “We are opening Government funded mosques”
    It reminds me of that famous Pakistani spokesman Asifwegiveashit who had no idea where Osama was, KRudd has no idea what he is doing! It must be eating away at the lefty do gooders that Obama will be the man who got Osama Bin Laden fulfilling the orders of George W Bush all those years ago. It should improve Obama’s position in the polls considerably.

  14. MLF

    Kevin, no I’m not. I’m referring to the real people affected by OBL and AQ – people like your mum, dad, brother, sister, daughter, son. Why on earth you’re getting your back up and suggesting that I would think Vietnam was anything except an atrocious waste of life is beyond me.

    I also don’t get why the true believers cannot grasp the following:

    Bush – bad. Saddam – bad. OBL – bad. Taliban – bad. Blair – bad. Illegal war – bad. Death of Iraqi non-combatants at the hands of Coalition forces – bad. Death of Iraqi citizens at the hands of Saddam – bad. Death of Afgh women and babies because of social oppression by Taliban – bad. Death of Afgh non-combatants by Allied forces – bad. Khazai corruption – bad. Taliban campaign of murder – bad. Death of Americans – bad. Death of Australians – bad. Western governments exploiting the power and might to the detriment of others – bad. Dictatorial governments killing their own citizens – bad.

    There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ bad in these situations. And those of you that say ‘Saddam only killed 10k, we’ve killed 100k’ should be ashamed of yourselves.

  15. MLF

    Marilyn, you have shown time and again that you argue emotionally and very often without the facts, so lets just leave it for today, ok? If you think that all troops should be withdrawn and Afgh left to its own devices then good for you. Its a valid point of view. But if you don’t believe that the West is doing good for Afgh women then you should do some reading at World Vision and United Nations – just for starters. Unless you think they too are cesspools of propaganda.

  16. MLF

    Good old Crikey Mods. Take a perfectly reasonable post and either trash it without notice or sit on it for 5 days until its no longer relevant to the discussion. I shall have to try again. Maybe one at a time.

    Bernard, extra-judicial killing implies no legal process – and while the 1998 indictment of OBL did not warrant or call for his death, he was indicted, there was process. That said, he was also a hostile combatant in a declared war – and citing extra-judicial killing in war is contentious. I’m not necessarily arguing with you, I’m just saying there are two sides to the debate.

  17. Syd Walker

    Well said Barry.

    How tragic that the only signs of honest intelligence in media such as this are found in comments from members of the public who’ve kept their eyes open.

    One might think ‘journalists’ would be interested in Rumsfeld’s missing 2.3 $ trillion, hi-tech nanothermite traces found in the dust (as documented in a peer-reviewed scientific paper with multiple authors), the fact that the latest attempt to seek justice through the courts was blocked by a trio of judges one of whom is a relative of… George W Bush – or even the peculiar Australian connection to this story (Frank Lowy was, after all, a business partner of ‘pull it’ Larry Silverstein).

    But no, these tossers just snigger about tin foil hats. They remind me of small time mafioisos protecting their capo. For betraying the public interest at this crucial time in history to such an appalling extent, mainstream journalists deserve the public’s utter contempt.

    I’d rather trust a smack dealer to tell the truth.

  18. Barry 09

    Now can we get back to “Finding out how Building 7 fell down ??? or the ‘Cruise missle ” that hit the Pentagon and killed the accountants that were looking for the $us 2.3 TRILLION DOLLARS that went MISSING on September 10 th ?? Reported by Dick Chenney late on sept. 10th and buried by september 11th events.

  19. Venise Alstergren

    The only way OBL could have stayed dead would have been to bring him to justice-as in a court of law. They did it with Saddam Hussein and he’s stayed dead, whereas Osama Bin Laden is laden (sorry about that.) with overtones of martyrdom and fables to be passed on to succeeding generations.

  20. Elan

    Geronimo eh?

    Well I suppose that beats the Collateral Damage slaughter.

    After that the comment was…….nice.

    Perhaps they said Geronimo beforehand. Just to get themselves in the mood….?

  21. Syd Walker

    Well, at least these paid shills haven’t got us all fooled Kevin. Journalism, under their watch, has been disgraced beyond recognition. Do they lie straight in bed?

    Re the issue of whether murder of the (alleged) Osama Bib Laden was ordered by the Obama Administration, none of the reports by the MSM can really be believed (unless they report on something like cricket or gardening). However, FWIW, this is extracted from a report in today’s Politico:
    _____________________________________

    Officials described the reaction of the special operators when they were told a number of weeks ago that they had been chosen to train for the mission.

    “They were told, ‘We think we found Osama bin Laden, and your job is to kill him,’” an official recalled.

    The SEALs started to cheer.

    Radioing a commander on Sunday, the team reported the capture with a pre-arranged signal: “Geronimo!”

  22. Kevin Herbert

    SYD WALKER:

    SADLY..YOU’RE RIGHT……

  23. Syd Walker

    “The death of the architect of such an historic act of mass slaughter”

    Like Dubya and now Obama, like Ariel Sharon and now NuttyYahoo, like Tony Bliar and now David Cameron, like John Howard and now Julia Gillard, Bernard Keane believes that judicial proof is unnecessary once the big boys of the New York Times and WashPo have laid down the official ‘truth’.

    The last intellectually honest article about 9-11 on Crikey was written by Stephen Mayne on September 15th 2001. That’s before the penny dropped about who may really have been responsible. It highlighted the particular interest Australians had in the case, as billionaire Frank Lowy’s Westfield America was lessee on the WTC concourse.

    Since then, not worth reading Crikey except to see how me-too journalism operates down-under.

    Sad really.What a waste. Makes me want to say Crikey!

  24. Elan

    ASSTRO:

    “Saddam was charged and got a trial. Dont you have a TV? “

    ‘ He’ll get a fair trial, then we’ll kill him’.

    Clearly you lack a damn sight more than just a TV !

  25. Kevin Herbert

    ADAMNEIRA:

    You say: “Justice always catches up with people”

    When will it catch up with the good old USA?

    When it does, it’s going to be one almighty reckoning, given the hate sown by US armed forces around the globe since 1961.

  26. Kevin Herbert

    MLF: you say:

    “I take your point, but maintain that for the real people who lost lost friends, loved ones, colleagues, who lost their cities to terror then lost their country to endless wars, who live in towns where there are no young men left, who live in a country now regarded with contempt by most of the rest of the world, who were let down by their government, lied to by their government, those real people with real skin in the game, for them this is a justice – natural justice. And its the one thing, the only thing, after all these years”.

    Are you talking about Vietnam? Three million civilians killed, 750K soldiers killed, the country laid waste to this day by chemicals. And the good old boys in the US Congress, then reneged on the $7 billion that promised to pay to clean up their mess. And for good measure, they kept Vietnam out of the IMF until the mid 90’s. Do you wonder why they’re referred to as ‘The Great Statan?

    The Yanks have been mutilating Third world, mainly poor countries since 1961….check out US Senator Ron Paul’s You Tube posts for his take on what he describes as the ‘blow-back’ of US foreign policy. And what have they achieved? I think the current break down of social order in the Middle East answers that question once & for all.

    The US economy is, like its British predecessor, an empire in steep decline…bring it on I say. I’d trust the Chinese any day ahead of Uncle Sam.

  27. SBH

    Andrew you can’t even get your own facts right so maybe you should not put words in the mouths of others nor ascribe motivations that aren’t there.

    I made none of the arguments you ascribe to me.

  28. Astro

    Marilyn

    Saddam was charged and got a trial. Dont you have a TV?

  29. shepherdmarilyn

    Andrew let’s get this straight once and for all. When Saddam was murdering hundreds of thousands he was Bush seniors mate. James Baker went to see him 6 monts after the gassing of the Kurds to reassure him that the US still loved him.

    At the time of the massacre or the shi’ite’s in the south it was Bush who prevented the US from helping the shi’ite uprising and Bush who had soldiers sitting over the hill watching the massacre.

    The US starved over 1.3 million innocent Iraqis to death and have now slaughtered a million more.

    So don’ get all pathetically self-righteous – Saddam and Bin Laden were both CIA assets don’t forget and were both assassinated without a trial or charge.

  30. banistersmind

    Why do people continue to insist on calling him Osama?

    It’s Usama.

  31. Elan

    This is the US Bernard. They define justice as they see fit.

    (Finally able to post !)

  32. Elan

    “Probably so as to deny a shrine to his adherents. Apparently it does conform to Islamic practise.”

    I doubt that. A shrine does not need a body. The US would never have allowed his followers to have the body.
    I simply question why they have allowed no one the body.

    I make no assumptions. I don’t need to. They will be made by others. That comes as no surprise.
    _____________________

    “….and you certainly dont want to believe the US killed less then was reported….”

    “……anyone that believes that the american media doesnt lean left, doesnt know much about the american press.”

    As I said. I knew they would turn up. And they’re not very bright……..

  33. geomac

    Also wikileaks showed that the deaths in the war were no were near as many as reported by the left wing media

    If you dont use Wiki why did you use that sentence in your post ?

  34. andrew36

    SBH that was meant be be 100000 in one campaign against the kurds not one attack (Some organisations believe it was closer to 50000 but most organisations believe it was at least 100000). I never said the USA has the right to do what they want and kill who they want. All I can say is that people like you, who believe the death of someone who kills innocent people without batting a eyelid, who is willing to train kids as young 12 to blow people up, is a bad thing. You should be ashamed to think of yourelves as civialised, but hey I guess he was just misunderstood, underneath it all he was just a fun loving larikin who got his kicks out of killing people. Geomac I actually dont use wikileaks because most rational people realise that wikileaks is not exactly reliable. Go do some research and you will see that most organisations who study that these things estimate that saddam was responsible for 500000 – 1500000 deaths in his just over 25 year reign (not 30 rebecca). Most believe the figure is around 1million. This doesnt include the deaths caused by the wars he fought. And the mass graves discovered and still been discovered by the US has led many of the organisations to the belief that they underestimated the amount of deaths. Putting aside the allegiences of the Australian media, anyone that believes that the american media doesnt lean left, doesnt know much about the american press. Anyway you people will only believe what you want to believe and you certainly dont want to believe Saddam killed that many people and you certainly dont want to believe the US killed less then was reported and that a large number would have died if saddam was left in power (possibly just as many or more) because this wouldnt suit your agenda. As stated before it doesnt really matter how many died in the war as it was 2 many, but its just a bit annoying when people try to pretend they care when really they dont care at all about people dying, they only care because it involves western countries, but when its arabs killing each other they dont say a thing and couldnt care less. As I said Hypocrites.

  35. shepherdmarilyn

    And why is it we have to listen to the prattle of David Kilcullen, he has been proved to be wrong about absolutely everything to date.

  36. shepherdmarilyn

    Gee MLF, you live in a fairy tale land the Afghan women in general know nothing about. Perhaps you ought to go and tell them because you are talking complete and utter crap.

    It’s not just the Taliban, Karzai won’t even let his own wife work and she is a gynaecologist.

    Unlike you MLF I do know a number of Afghan women.

    Extra judicial killing had to happen Bernard because he has a good number of CIA secrets in his heart.

    Now that we reckon Bin Laden has been in Pakistan all these years can someone tell us again why we have been slaughtering Afghans how had nothing to do with anything?

    And “buried at sea”, what the? I don’t believe the US on anything.

    And I have only one name I write in. I do not have any aliases.

  37. Fran Barlow

    [I want to know why bin Laden was buried at sea.]

    Probably so as to deny a shrine to his adherents. Apparently it does conform to Islamic practice.

  38. Bernard Keane

    There are now statements emerging, albeit from unnamed sources, that the force that assaulted the compound was intending to kill Bin Laden, not capture him. For mine this changes the equation somewhat, making it an extra-judicial killing. Of course, there have been hundreds of those in the last decade, so in a way this one’s no different, but again it shouldn’t be confused with justice.

  39. Elan

    Having struggled with access today I’ll leave much of this until tomorrow.

    But: have I missed something? Why was he buried at sea? Has there been any explanation for this?

    A36; so your stats make the behaviour of an ally quite acceptable? As I said,-I was expecting you (and your kind). You people will permeate many of these sites in the coming days and weeks, and use the death of this man to sanitise the behaviour and human rights abuses of the American Administration.

    More of that later.

    I want to know why bin Laden was buried at sea.

  40. Barry 09

    I thought he died about 3 years ago from his medical problem and his cave not having power. About the time we stopped gettimg his home made videos. i heard they did a burial at sea ? Cover -up anybody ? 9/11 Mark 2 ?

  41. geomac

    ANDREW36

    Maybe my browser gets a different wiki site to the one you quote. Your figures are not as reported in Wiki but you have aded a few zeros as well as neglecting to state that the figures vary in estimates by tens of thousands. Then you state Iraq deaths were nowhere near the figures by left wing media. Forget any media and look for the figures by NGOs. Left wing media ? Well name some because I find it hard to unearth any mainstream media that is left wing. Crazy far right I can see in one particular organisation and centre in others. So called current affairs on commercial outlets have nothing but dross and have only one agenda and thats to exploit any situation or false celebrity.

  42. SBH

    Those of you who like putting words in peoples mouths need to just roll it back a bit and read whats posted. Andrew, Marylin Shepherd was accused of a rant because she sought to point out the oxymoronic idea that we can bomb people into civilization (my words not hers). That charge was unfair as all she did was point out women continue to suffer. she didn’t ascribe blame she just got flamed for a ‘rant’.

    And Andrew I know of know source that reliably puts the death toll in one attack at 100000 people unless you mean Hiroshima. That seems like a hanson-esque use of figures.

    As for those people who are gloating about the death of another human being or who think the US has a right to go where it likes and kill whom it likes without even the support of even its own laws you should be ashamed to think of yourselves as civilised.

  43. Fran Barlow

    While I’m glad OBL is no longer at large, I don’t see his death as a good thing. Certainly if dead or at large were the only options,then his death would be preferable but I’d prefer that he’d been captured and taken to a neutral and secure venue for trial. He was not just a criminal but someone with knowledge of a substantial criminal network.

    Most importantly, a trial would have given some of his victims — prominently Muslims — a chance to confront him before the world and deprive him of at least some of his standing. His death will ensure that useful information about his confederates will remain hidden and he will acquire a martyr status that he ill-deserves.

    It’s not clear yet whether his death was unavoidable — a mere matter of exigency — but it never occurred to me that if he was truly at large and US forces came across him that they would let him live. His information on the period of the US-led resistance to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the origins of Al Qaeda and the role of the ISI would have been most interesting.

  44. andrew36

    Rebecca there was 100000 kurds killed in 1 attack, while exact totals are hard to get as saddam didnt exactly broadcast the number of people he killed, most estimates by human rights organisations have at least 600,000 to 1 million deaths, which dont includes war deaths and the 500000 who starved to death during sanctions because Saddam kept all the food for himself and the army. The US discovered a number of mass graves which makes these organistaions believe that deaths nmay have been underestimated by 100000 to 300000. So using the lower end of the figures we have a estimated 1.2 million deaths accredited to saddam in his reign not counting the deaths in wars. How many more would he had killed if he was still in power? Also wikileaks showed that the deaths in the war were no were near as many as reported by the left wing media. Still way to many deaths but nothing like the figures you are saying. Maybe you should do some more reading

  45. rebeccasmi

    Andrew36: while not denying Saddam Hussein was a murderous despot, figures murdered under his rule are about 140 00 over 30 years. In the first year of the invasion, hundreds of thousands of a population the size of Australia were killed – ah, but we didn’t count them…. and then when the dogs of war were unleashed, in the years after the invasion typically 3000 ppl a month died in various attacks who wouldn’t have died if not for the US invasion…3000 a month!!! That’s more than double Saddam murdered in 30 yrs, packed into two!!! Be best to read a bit more recent history before making ill-informed posts…

  46. malcolm

    There is something else that Osama’s death won’t change and that is the conspiracy theories around 9/11. Osama was killed and apparently his body has been disposed of, sorry buried, at sea. He will never be brought to account for what happened. He can neither admit to nor deny having anything to do with violent distruction of the Twin Towers. Conspiracy theories can live on and flourish.

    But there is one good thing that came out of this, it got that wedding off the front pages of the MSM

  47. sickofitall

    I don’t like the triumphalist tone: it is never good to kill someone, even when they have brought it on themselves.

    Al Qaeda is a dead force now.

    I also don’t like the changing stories…. but … we’ll see….

  48. Roquefort Muckraker

    Obama is once again cleaning up after Mr. Bush. Financial crisis, recession, Afghanistan, and bin Laden.

  49. Oscar Jones

    I’d question BK’s analysis of AQ’s influence as well. There are bound to be tears before bedtime for all those ” young Arabs take to the streets across the Middle East to drive their dictators from power ” as they find, as in Egypt that new leader same same old leader although I will be pleased if proven wrong.

    As for the lunatics celebrating outside the White House, they should read “My Government Today Prepared to Do Something for Which We Hanged Germans” by the US Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz at warisacrime.org.

    We’re still a bunch of savages in the end.

  50. Oscar Jones

    “The death of the architect of such an historic act of mass slaughter”. These words could equally apply to George Bush Jnr, Tony Blair, John Howard and any of the other war mongerers who have invaded 2 countries that never harmed them or us on the basis of the tragic events of 9/11.

    Indeed-we are yet to be supplied with the slightest bit of proof that Bin Laden was responsible for 9/11.

    Anyone thinking a burial at sea will alter anything or make one single iota of difference to how Bin Laden supporters view him are dreaming.

  51. AdamNeira

    Well done to the CIA, the US Special Forces personnel and their allies who carried out this operation. The true story will never be revealed in full, and those involved will have their identities protected for the rest of their lives. The burial at sea was clever as it will prevent a shrine being made for terrorist acolytes to flock to in the future. Justice always catches up with people. We all reap what we sow eventually. Many of the young people celebrating in Times Square and outside the White House right now would have been aged eight to eleven years old when September 11 happened. Their reaction is a statement that they, like all of us, do not want to live in a constant state of fear. There will be an upswing in hatred towards certain groups in the coming days, but some people will hate you no matter what you do. President Obama spoke well as usual. There was not a hint of adolescent triumphalism in his speech. I agree with what he said. G-d bless the USA and Western Civilization !

  52. Venise Alstergren

    MLF: You have it wrong. People in Oz aren’t cheering that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. They’re cheering because America did the killing.

  53. MLF

    Cheers Bernard, for taking the time to reply.

    I take your point, but maintain that for the real people who lost lost friends, loved ones, colleagues, who lost their cities to terror then lost their country to endless wars, who live in towns where there are no young men left, who live in a country now regarded with contempt by most of the rest of the world, who were let down by their government, lied to by their government, those real people with real skin in the game, for them this is a justice – natural justice. And its the one thing, the only thing, after all these years.

    OBL and AQ did not live inside our justice system, inside our sense of what is fair and right. There is no court in the land that could have handed down any ruling that would have delivered ‘judicial’ justice in this situation. For a start, OBL would have rejected it outright, and continued to live and die as a martyr. You cannot punish someone who does not acknowledge your authority.

    That’s why all the crowds are going a bit bonkers. I mean think about it, are we really cheering that a man was shot and killed? No, we’re really not. That’s not who (most of us) are.

  54. andrew36

    Elan, Were did I say Bush was a humanitarian, in fact I said by no means was the war justified. What I said was that saddam was killing hundred of thousands but people like you and marilyn forget that, well actually you proberly dont forget you just dont care, after all its only arabs killing other arabs so who cares its none of your business. Sorry but I find people who try to pretend they care about people dying but conviently forget that people were dying anyway just touch hypocritical.

  55. John64

    Changes nothing? No, it changes everything. One of the constant criticisms about US presence in Afghanistan was that “they were there for Bin Laden, so why don’t we have him yet?”. Now that’s done, Obama can actually proceed with the withdrawal as planned – without having to worry about the hard-heads coming after him and laying the charge that he couldn’t find Osama.

    It also sends a very clear and loud message: America /always/ get their man. It doesn’t matter what country you’re hiding in or who’s supporting you, America will get you if they want you. It won’t stop the extremists but hopefully it will stop some of the perhaps saner ones. It might even make Gadaffi (especially now they got his kid as well) do a re-think – sooner or later, America are gonna get him and you only need to point to Osama (where-as before Osama was the poster boy for hide-and-seek).

    Domestically, it destroys Trump politically. Releasing the birth certificate due to his demands was a risk (giving your opponents what they want elevates your opponents to your level) but doing it first and then coming up with this destroys that story completely. Trump can crow about the certificate as much as he likes, Obama got Osama – and he nails home the “there are more important things to do” message.

    Domestically this ties up a lot of loose ends and Obama very cleverly used it to bury a domestic issue that’d been annoying him for a while. Internationally, it confirms the long known problem that Pakistan has with its domestic terror issues (there’s a small but fundamental difference between believed and confirmed) and potentially moves the war on terror to Pakistan as its new front. All those scary scenarios of terrorists with nukes will now be at the fore-front of American military minds much more so.

    The fact he was captured in a military town is very telling of the issues Pakistan faces. What changes is that now we’re going to have to deal with those issues much more (no doubt there’s already retaliation being planned by terrorists in those areas against the Pakistani Government).

    But regardless, Obama can pull out of Afghanistan with a “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, close Guantanamo (he has 2 years left to do it – and no doubt will wait until the troops are home) and re-focus on the domestic economy issues – with the caveat that America is now in a much better position to assist those countries that are fighting internally for Democracy. This chapter can finally be closed.

  56. Venise Alstergren

    FREDEX: I could give you all sorts of help on that topic. Trouble is they wouldn’t print it. (I speak as one constantly moderated).

  57. fredex

    Why is my comment awaiting moderation?

  58. fredex

    Nice post Bernard, a wee bit more depth and nuance the the average blather from the pollies and the MSM.

    Shame about all those deaths in two countries isn’t it?

    On the myth that we [whoever] are fighting for the rights of women in Afghanistan, can we put that furphy to sleep please.
    The rights of Afghani women were only invoked by the invaders as a convenient propaganda ploy, it has only ever received lip service as a PR spin to get western support for the invasions.

    This site [there is an English version there] :

    http://www.rawa.org/index.php

    clearly makes 3 points
    1. It is an organisation of women fighting for justice in Afghanistan.
    2.It does not, never has, support foreign invasion as a positive for for Afghani women.
    3.The present regime differs little from the ‘baddies’ [as painted by western spin] and the invasion does not help women.

  59. Bruce

    Bin Laden was hiding in Abbott-abad. The suffix “abad” means “place” in Persian, hence the many of the place names in the region ind in “abad” (Islamabad, Jalalabad, etc.) This means bin Laden was hiding at Abbott’s place.

    Tony Abbott has a lot to answer for…

  60. Bernard Keane

    MLF I don ‘t begrudge Americans taking pleasure in Bin Laden’s death – as I said, it’s understandable. And frankly, despite my opposition to capital punishment, I’m not overly fussed that he was killed during an attempt to capture him. But I wouldn’t confuse a man’s death with justice. In fact, that he won’t be brought before a judge and given a trial is justice cheated.

  61. Dagney_Taggert

    ANDREW36. How dare you get between a rant and the truth! Bush is teh debil!!! Far worse than, say, Mengistu Haile Mariam.

    As far as Afghanistan is concerned, we should pull out – let them stand or fall on their own. If the Taliban takes over again and reintroduces it’s medieval laws, well, that’s no concern of ours. I’m sure Marilyn and co would be perfectly happy with that.

  62. the man on the clapham omnibus

    Too early to make these predictions… still hoping it does make at least some difference. So far the dealings post the operation seem fairly measured and if the reports on actions like the handling of the burial are correct will hopefully not inflame sentiment.

    Ideally this would be a good opportunity to communicate with the Islamic world and moderate muslims how many innocent muslims Al-qaeda has massacred during it’s tenure and how Egypt’s revolution is the model to follow.

    Still it makes me wonder if one J Howard will reconsider his quote from 2008 (on Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Iraq):

    “I think he’s wrong. I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory,”
    “If I were running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.”

  63. Elan

    I am having horrendous problems trying to get posts up!

    The above post (time) took 3 minutes to show up. THIS is membership??? That last letter should be a ‘ t ‘ .

    Andrew 36. I was expecting you. DO NOT attempt to portray Bush as some sort of humanitarian! I figured you people would slither up to the plate! The arrogance is now out of control. I thought it would be.

    Tomorrow I will either be a member…… or revert back -and be able to post! THEN I’ll get into this topic.

  64. Elan

    1 minute 12 seconds. Faster than a speeding dog turd.

  65. andrew36

    SBH. The plight of women in afganistan, you mean the same afganistan that marilyn thinks we should get out of, the same afganistan that she thinks we should leave to the taliban, the Taliban who give no rights to woman what so ever, and let somehow you believe she cares about the plight of afganistan woman., yeah Right. Marilyn what about all the lives Bush saved, what about all the people that saddam would have slaughtered if he was in power, he was killing 50-100 thousand every year and showed no indication of stopping. Not saying Bush was justified but people like you conviently forget that there was 100,000’s dying over there as it was.

  66. Venise Alstergren

    Excellent post, Bernard K. However, I would be happier if Bin Laden had been proved to be the man responsible for 9/11.

    Eight years is a lot of time to recruit fresh fundamentalist acolytes of Islam. these bitter, and twisted people born with an urge to self-destruction who regard the destruction of other people as icing on the proverbial cake. While Bin Laden will probably become the world’s richest martyr.

  67. Elan

    Death or no death. My concern is for the deaths of ALL innocent victims, including the many thousands so smoothly dismissed as collateral damage. I fully expected a couple of comments here, and remain contemptuous of the arrogant belief that American casualties are of greater importance than those who have died as a result of American foreign policy. (There have been ‘others’, but they are of lesser import..

    (Having broken the habit of a techno lifetime and joined the halcyon corridors of paid membership today, I have found that accessing Crikey and any topic, has been only slightly less difficult than if I had given birth to a dinosaur-without anaesthetic! I’ll concede right here and right now that it has done nothing to improve my mood).

    SO-I am broadly in agreement with MS. Some of you sensitive folks might not like the direct approach, but the point is valid.

    I doubt that this demise will change much. I will avoid all news currently so that I do not have to watch the citizens of a country that has terrorised and caused the deaths of so many innocent people crowing over this death.

    And folks?, I soooo look forward to expounding on that, should you wish to have a shot at my ‘rant’ .

    Be good sorts and do it this evening? jugular veins are looking damned appetising to me at the moment.

    Now let’s see if I can actually get a bloody post up..

  68. SusieQ

    Michael R James – just heard that apparently (not confirmed) OBL’s body prepared according to Islamic custom and buried at sea, but its an ongoing story isn’t it, so who knows what will be revealed over coming days.

  69. Kevin Herbert

    Bin Laden is NOT dead..believe me.

    His ‘death’ has been staged by the CIA..believe me.

    There are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq….believe me.

    Israel is a democracy…believe me.

  70. Guwardi

    I thought the point being made was that this death will not change a thing and you and I both know that that assumption is correct

  71. geomac

    STIOFAN

    Hmmm I,m not sure if I should be flattered or offended.

  72. Johnfromplanetearth

    How convenient for Obama, now let’s see him take action against Pakistan for harbouring the prick all these years and then onto Syria!

  73. michael r james

    This is just nitpicking but Wikipedia stated the following (itself citing American ABC):

    “DNA from bin Laden’s body, compared with DNA samples on record from his dead sister,[citation needed] confirmed bin Laden’s identity.[146] ”

    and:

    “According to Der Spiegel, The operation began at 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning when three US Apache helicopters attacked the Bin Laden complex. [13] After a firefight one helicopter had to make an emergency landing.[13] The battle lasted until 4 a.m.[13”

    If the report that OBL was killed on Sunday (or early Monday) (Sunday, American time) 1 May is correct, it is highly unlikely by later the same day (almost midnight, a few hours ago) that DNA tests could have been done. Despite what the TV crime shows depict, DNA fingerprinting cannot be done in a few hours, generally taking several days. Feasibly as little as 24 hours.

    So, in Wikipedia’s new page dedicated to OBL’s death, this new post could make sense (while being completely unofficial and speculative):

    “On May 1, shortly before the official announcement, George Stephanopoulos on ABC News reported that Osama bin Laden was “likely killed in northwest Pakistan several days ago.” Brian Ross elaborated, “That’s right. Several days ago there was an attack. Most recently there have been killed about 20 to 25 suspected al-Qaeda figures, and according to one intelligence source he was among those killed. This was several days ago. It is likely they have done a DNA match at this time, before they would make such an announcement.”[20]”

    At the same time, the US authorities claim that OBL’s body would be treated according to Islamic tradition raises some irreconcilable issues. Islamic tradition requires burial within 24 hours so how could the body be brought to the US as is being implied. I cannot see why they would bring the body to the US. Where would they bury him (hmm, not at Arlington!). To have an open-coffin stroll by?

    Yike, the Wikipedia page is changing faster than one can process it:
    “ABC News has reported that the body has been identified by DNA testing,[5] however Reuters reports that DNA test results will be available in the next few days and that Bin Laden’s body was identified using facial recognition techniques.[8]”

  74. Stiofan

    “Nuts like Trump and Palin while seeming in control of their faculties are no better than Bin Laden .”

    Gee Marilyn, how many usernames do you have?

  75. geomac

    Good article which puts in perspective what the death of Bin Laden achieves. For the US it means celebrating like a street scene from Gaza or Libya but without the negative media. Just under 3,000 dead from 11th of September and well over 3,000 US military dead in Iraq alone for a lie. Of course Iraqi dead weren,t counted so only various estimates. Imagine if Bush was the one announcing Bin Ladens death ? Another photo op displaying the body as in the Saddam sons and western cinema cliches. I wish and hope the development actually does achieve some reduction in conflict. Nuts like Trump and Palin while seeming in control of their faculties are no better than Bin Laden . Bush has proven that to be a US president doesn,t require integrity or even a modicum of intelligence. Lets hope this props up Obama so we aren,t asked to be an ally in another deceitful and useless military action by some loose cannon.

  76. MLF

    Andy 008, clearly mods only check links and not foolishness. Stop watching YouTube and read the 9/11 Commission Report.

  77. MLF

    I agree, nice piece Bernard. A couple of things though. I think the US have been on to Pakistan and the ISI for quite some time now….

    The joy, cheers and chest-beating you will see over coming days from the US may get a bit vomit-inducing, but it is rightly theirs. Let them have it. And it has nothing to do with the ‘war on terror’, nor the wars in Afg or Iraq. It is because after 10 long years this is the first small semblance of justice that real US citizens are able to take and to hold on to for the hideous murders that took place not only on their soil but of their citizens overseas as well. Let us not forget that affiliates of OBL targeted and killed Australians too.

    I am surprised you can say “no US shift to support democracy in the Middle East…” when against the will of his own Congress did the President take action in Libya. You always forget that a country’s responsibilities lie first and foremost in the protection of its own citizens. Unless you know every side of the story, ever deal, every handshake, every negotiation, every threat, every promise, every aggression, you are in no position I think to make sweeping judgements about US foreign policy.

    Finally, Marilyn, excellent pointing out of the plight of the Afg women and the needless deaths in childbirth and the needless death of babies day in and day out. You forgot however to mention that is because the Taliban do not allow women to be educated and they also do not allow women to be touched by male doctors. Bit of a vicious circle that one. You forgot to mention that is why the West has sponsored the training and installation of thousands of midwives and why the mortality numbers have been reversing in recent years.

  78. SBH

    Geez Astro, even for you that’s nuts

  79. Roberto Tedesco

    Sitting in a compound with “very high walls” in the middle of Pakistan – had he retired?

  80. John

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

    by President Obama,

    not by George W. Bush.

  81. shepherdmarilyn

    I did not rant about anything, the US said they have killed their CIA agent a number of times now.

    I don’t believe a word they say about anything at all, too old.

    the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis probably won’t care that a man they had nothing to do with is dead or supposedly dead Astro but why let your ignorant rants change now.

  82. Andy_008

    One small fact seems to have completely escaped the notice of the Australian press today.

    The US government has for many years now consistently stated that there was no hard evidence linking Bin Laden to 9/11. Now, suddenly, today he is again alleged to be the mastermind behind the operation. What changed?

    Here’s Dick Cheney emphatically stating they were not claiming Bin Laden was behind 9/11 and the current FBI most wanted page for Bin Laden makes no mention of 9/11.

  83. Astro

    Well done Marilyn – you even find a rant in Bin Laden – or Bin Empty Now

    Interesting to see if any sleeper cells are activated. I would cancel flight to or from the USA for the next 2 week and stay away from tourist spots

  84. Wobbly

    Abbottabad… we already new that!

    You’d have to say that if Al Queda were the threat they were made out to be by Bush, Obama and airport security, then they haven’t demonstrated that threat for a while.

    Septics going nuts in front of the White House over this news is only going to stir up more young and poor muslims.

  85. (the other) BernardK

    The death of Bin Laden will have the same effect on the war on terror that the killing of Pablo Escobar had on the war on drugs. None.

    I take some issue with this tho:
    “It is not fundamentalism to which Middle Eastern youth are now turning, but to freedom from tyranny, persecution and censorship.”

    It takes hundreds of thousands to effect change this way, while only singles of thousands of fundamentalists to totally disrupt the world, to see the paring back of civil liberties, and to see over reaction on part of (western) governments which stimulate the recruiting drive like nothing else can.

  86. SBH

    Yes Stiofan, we wouldn’t want anyone highlighting the plight of women in Afghanistan. Not quite sure what your contribution adds to the piece but I guess you pays your money so…

    Bin Laden’s dead, oh well. Christ has been dead for 2000 years and Mohamed for 1300. Doesn’t stop their followers slaughtering each other (and the rest of us for that matter).

    Nice, succinct piece on analysis from Keane.

  87. Stiofan

    Cue ranting post from Marilyn …

    … b_gger!!!!

  88. shepherdmarilyn

    Bin Laden though is mostly the figment of US fever and not much more. There is no proof he did anything at all except train with the CIA to kick the Russians out of Afghanistan.
    Which is hysterical when you think about it now with 16,000 women per year dying in childbirth while we watch poppies grow or lock them up here.

    And there is no greater mass murderer alive today than George Dubya Bush.

  89. SusieQ

    Gee, you must have knocked this article up quickly Bernard, but I think it hits the mark. Surely the biggest questions need to be asked of the Pakistan government, a failed state if ever there was one. It will provide a ‘bounce’ for Obama in the polls no doubt and makes the Trump’s posturings on birth certificates and the like look even more absurd than they already did.

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