Friday, June 25, 2004

Genius of Bin Laden: 'War on terror' is a disaster: another intelligence official relates the obvious: "Bin Laden is motivated and his followers and his associates are motivated by what they believe their religion requires them to do. And until we accept that fact and stop identifying them as gangsters or terrorists or criminals, we're very much behind the curve. Their power will wax our costs in treasure, and blood will also wax."

Mitchell: "But isn't it a distortion of Islam, what they espouse? How can you say that this is the Muslim belief to attack us and to wage war against us?"

Anonymous: "I'm certainly not an expert and neither am I a Muslim. I think the appeal that bin Laden has across the Muslim — I indeed think he's probably the only heroic figure, the only leadership figure that exists in the Islamic world today, and he does so because he is defending Muslims, Islamic lands, Islamic resources. From his perspective it's very much a war against someone who is oppressing or killing Muslims.

"And the genius that lies behind it, because he's not a man who rants against our freedoms, our liberties, our voting, our — the fact that our women go to school. He's not the Ayatollah Khomeini; he really doesn't care about all those things. To think that he's trying to rob us of our liberties and freedom is, I think, a gross mistake. What he has done, his genius, is identify particular American foreign policies that are offensive to Muslims whether they support these martial actions or not — our support for Israel, our presence on the Arabian Peninsula, our activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, our support for governments that Muslims believe oppress Muslims, be it India, China, Russia, Uzbekistan. Bin Laden has focused the Muslim world on specific, tangible, visual American policies.

Mitchell: "Well, you say in your book that the reality is that there is a large and growing among the world's 1.3 billion Muslims against America, not because of a misunderstanding of America but because they understand our policies very well."

Anonymous: "That's exactly right. I certainly believe that, and I think the substantial amount of polling that's been done by the Pew Trust and by other very reputable pollsters in the Islamic world indicate that most of the Islamic world believes they know exactly what we're up to, and that's to deny the Palestinians a country, to make sure that oil flows at prices that may seem outrageous to the American consumer, but are not market prices in the Islamist's eyes, supporting Russia against Chechnya. I think very coolly bin Laden has focused them on substance rather than rhetoric. And his rhetoric is only powerful because that is the case. He's focused them on U.S. policies."

"Mitchell: "You call the invasion of Iraq, ‘an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat.’ Why do you think so?"

Anonymous: "For several reasons. That was a passage cut from a larger passage where I describe my personal aversion to aggressive war, to the war started by the United States. And I tried to draw an analogy between our war against Mexico in the 19th century and just saying it is not part of the American character or our basic sense of decency to wage wars except in self-defense or preemption.

"The major problem with the Iraq war is that it distracted us from the war against terrorism. But more importantly, it allowed—it made us invade, or it caused us to invade a country that's the second holiest place in Islam. It's not really the same as the Russians invading Afghanistan in 1979. Afghanistan is an Islamic country, but it was far from the mainstream of world Islam.

"Iraq, however, for both Sunnis and Shias, is the second holiest place in the Islamic world. And to invade that country, on the face of it, is a great offense to Islam and an action which almost entirely validated bin Laden's assertions about what the United States intended vis-à-vis the Islamic world."

"And there seems to be very little opposition to him within the Muslim world, and that's why I think that our assumption that he distorts Islam is just that, it's analysis by assertion. I'm not sure it's quite accurate."

* This is an interesting analysis except that it is not a 'mistake' to state that bin laden 'hates our freedoms' - that is rather a deliberate lie. Also it is not a 'war on terror' - that also is a deliberate lie. The war on Iraq (and on Afghanistan) is a calculated act of imperialism and aggression, with terror as the essential pretext, which knowingly increased the risk of future terrorist retaliation. It is true however that bin laden is the strategic 'genius' - either that or else Bush and the neocons are strategic morons with their hubris and military/imperial incompetence.

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