Wednesday, May 04, 2011

We've been laden with this nonsense

There were a few thoughts I had on the death of Osama bin Laden on Monday.

1) In the last ten years, we entered an age where just about anything could be doubted, at least when it came to the truth-averse American government and its shifty, modernity-averse opponents in the Middle East, Central and South Asia (hereafter referred to simply as "Southcentral"). Technology, political aims and the absence of other parties made the truth impossible to figure out at times, at least conclusively and to all involved.

In this case, what's notable that the American government did not present any proof whatsoever that bin Laden had been killed, even claiming that the body had been disposed of in the sea. However, this is a proof by contradiction: bin Laden is well-connected enough that he ought to be able to stand up and verify that he's not dead.

This might not satisfy those who claim that he died of kidney failure because the forklift the CIA paid him to drive into Building 7 did not have functioning dialysis equipment.

2) That this doesn't really change anything underscores the relative insignificance of terrorism as a threat to our security. Yes, it's possible that terrorists could unleash a nuclear weapon in an American city, but couldn't the guy who makes your sandwich at Subway also stab you to death? Couldn't the car stopped at a red light waiting for you to cross the street just run you down?

In the ten years that have followed 9/11, about 150,000 Americans have been murdered and another 400,000 have died in car accidents. Against the deaths of a half million Americans, we have a few botched bombings and terrorist incidents outside of America. If Al Qaeda or anyone else truly were serious about terrorizing America, they could simply send a dozen men into a dozen public places with automatic weapons every day.

3) We learned something about how to hide. One Pakistani security analyst explained bin Laden's seemingly unusual choice as thus: a more remote location would be prone to free-wheeling drone attacks and incursion by intelligence operatives and the like. Living in a town close to Islamabad with military academies and facilities was genius because of its restricted activity and checkpoints, a seemingly paradoxical phenomenon that would explain why Saddam Hussein's Iraq probably had a surprisingly low crime rate.

4) Though bin Laden did not live with a great deal of protection, reportedly he was guarded by only three men, it's hard to believe that he was simply under house arrest for six years. His movements and those of his couriers, associates and others must have been known to one of the world's largest militaries. Just as it's absurd for the US to say that Pakistan knew nothing about their "intrusion" into Pakistani territory, it's equally absurd to suggest that the Pakistani state did not know where bin Laden had been living this entire time.


holterbarbour said...

I saw a Facebook status something along the lines of the following:

"Pakistan must feel just like I did when my mom discovered the bong I had hidden in my closet."

Erik said...

I have to wonder if bin Laden didn't strike some sort of deal with the Pakistani military or government. "Yeah, OK, we'll let you stay here, but you have to remain within the walls of your fortified compound with no phone or internet."