The Story of Obama and Osama
In spite of lessons learned from the European World Wars, the seeds for a new world conflict had already been laid in the beginnings of the state of Israel. In November 1947, the Unite Nations made the decision to form a Jewish state, to allow Jewish survivors of the Holocaust to settle as immigrants in historic Palestine. Many Arabs left the territory, or where forcefully evacuated by international military forces, to clear the way for the Jewish state. It seemed the right thing to do at the time. David Ben-Gurion declared the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. The creation of this sanctuary for the Jewish Diaspora proved to be far from the end of persecution for citizens living in the State of Israel.
As everybody who reads a newspaper or watches the news once in a while, knows the battle over territory still continues today in Israel and Palestine. The difference with fifty-five years ago is that the state of Israel, with Jewish immigrants as their founding fathers, is now firmly established. The Israeli government is not likely to give up its integrity as an independent state, actively protecting and consolidating safe borders.
In the meantime, Arab nationalism had started to throw off the European oppression after the last WW and formed independent states as well, often under leadership of dictators. Their former oppressors bolstered the dictators who seemed of use to them, or were interested in their resources (oil). European governments, the Unites States, and/or the United Soviet Socialist Republic formed alliances with those dictators, in an attempt to control their new affiliations and their strategic position on the world stage and specifically, in the middle east.
Like an oil stain of massive proportions, the conflict around the state of Israel has now spread over the entire world, based on competing rights to territory between two factions of the same tribe: the Palestinians in their territory, and the Jewish Diaspora, now a state.
Since that time, fifty-five years ago, more factions and more religious groups became involved. Christian nations–predominantly Judaeo-Christian based (such as the US), aligned themselves with the Zionist faction, while others tried to balance a more neutral position in the conflict, such as most European nations and Egypt, while most Arab nations sided with the Palestinian faction in the conflicts about boundaries, territory, citizen’s rights, and the use/abuse of state power.
The question has many more nuances, as many issues are involved. What are the inherent rights of each faction in this conflict, when assuming the UN rights of self-determination applies to all nations? Does one nation (Israel) have the right to cross borders, to occupy border areas in other Arab nations and build permanent settlements there in the name of their security? Do they have the right to obstruct Palestinians in the Palestinian territory, to limit their freedom of movement across borders for visits to family and to work within the Israeli teritory, all in the name of consolidating Israel’s integrity and safe borders?
There must be other ways of reaching the goal of a peaceful co-existence. Other nations in the area have responsibilities and if agreed, what are these? Why is the UN not involved anymore? Why is this conflict allowed to fester? All Israeli citizens have lived under extended war rule since the nation’s inception, due to the many battles and wars with their neighbour states and the threats of war, with ongoing terrorist attacks. Palestinians fear arrest or random raids by Israeli police or the military for any reason within the Israeli territory; many violations of their rights are voiced frequently by Amnesty International. I can’t imagine what that would be like, sixty years of constant alert and under rule of war, for either side.
Al Qaeda quoted the conflict between Israel and its oppression of Palestinians as its ultimate cause and it is the often-quoted cause for terrorist activity against the state of Israel and its allies by other terrorist organization and governments. Al Qaeda’s targets have shifted over time to the US as the main Israeli supporter, and to the UK and its partners (Australia) as the closest allies of the US. Their targets are uninvolved citizens, non-military targets. Then the targets seemed to develop with a much broader sweep, now including targets in areas where anybody gathers who had anything to do with a westernized lifestyle, such as Australian tourists on Bali.
On November 11, 2001 attacks in New York and an attempted attack on the Pentagon by US based Al Qaeda terrorists took place. It shook the nation and the rest of the world to its core. Americans were shell shocked, unable to understand how anybody could hate their nation so much. Their own history was discussed among their bravest intellectuals and pundits: their self-serving military interventions in other nations scrutinized, their might questioned and their arrogance exposed about the assumed right to decide for other nations what their fate should be. The common citizens sought targets to hate: looking for “others”, that were so unlike themselves that they could freely blame them, hate them, fear them.
Many Americans responded to the attacks in 2001 with religious fervour, fear-based and irrationally, their existential fears converted into an anti-Muslim campaign, grabbing eagerly onto the radical-religious characteristics of the Al Qaeda Sunni-Muslim terrorist group that claimed ownership of the attacks.
After the initial shock wore off, renewed lust for war and revenge arose and military action was contemplated. This time it was not that easy, as no clear target or nation was obvious and the fear for more terrorists attacks very real. Afghanistan was a target as it might hide Bin Laden, the acclaimed leader of Al Qaeda. Increased security measures were established, especially around trying to keep enemies out of the US territory and air travel became very onerous.
Even a mellow nation like Canada established extra security measures and regular citizen’s rights were suspended, government given extra powers to arrest without the normal right to be charged with an offence before being incarcerated. The nasty business of the US Abu Graib prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba came to light with extreme prisoner abuse, violating the Geneva Conventions, the international rights of prisoners. The US considered itself in a state of war.
The lessons of the two World Wars of the previous century seemed to have been lost completely. Those were wars of brutal slaughter of innocent civilians and young military men alike, in addition to millions of Jewish and other exterminated target groups in the second WW: victims of discrimination: the “others”, scapegoats. Economic downturn and imperialistic invasion of sovereign nations led to the world wars. The Jewish nationals in all of Europe were targeted as the scapegoat for all political and economic woes in WWII. A total of 88 million lives were lost within a time span of thirty-one years. This fact seems to have been forgotten and its lessons lost for most part to new generations.
A well-known lesson learned after World War II was that you need to assist your enemy that lost the war with rebuilding their nation, to prevent giving them a reason to continue hating the victor and taking revenge. The Marshall plan funded the rebuilding of Germany after World War II, now an important pillar of the European economy and a trusted ally. That same argument is now used to leave UN sanctioned troops stationed in Afghanistan, and other areas of conflict, to assist with building its infra structure, to establish education that will counteract the religious fanaticism of the Taliban Muslim indoctrination, and to train a local police force, so desperate locals do not return to Taliban ‘protection’.
In my view it would be essential that those supporting troops and teachers involved in rebuilding nations devastated by war will not consist of US troops, as their role has been tainted after the 9-11 events and by their recent history. Their interest is not trusted and seen as self serving, similar to their invasion into Iraq, where the US intervened without a Nato or UN mandate, and invaded without a clear reason other than protection of their oil resources. Many Arab and non-Arab nations saw that US action, supported by the UK, as a violation of the Iraq sovereignty and of international laws. Remember the non-existing Weapons of Mass Destruction?
The fear for the “others” increased even more in the years after the economic global downturn of 2008 that was mainly caused by failure of the unregulated Unites States’ banking and financial world. The criminal fraud on massive scale perpetrated by its players left many victims behind, caused a global recession and bankruptcy for some nations. The media reported that the economic events south of the Canadian border left people feeling very vulnerable.
The Tea Party, an ultra right wing movement in the US, railed against the acceptance of the “others” into their society. The ”others” were now identified by Tea Party talking heads in their irrational speeches as a collective group embodied by unrecognized Mexican workers; US based citizens of a Muslim religion, or identified as immigrants from Muslim- based nations; refugees from other nations at war; and black Americans, to some extent. Even the elected president, Barrack Obama, was discredited and recently felt the need to publicize his Hawaiian birth certificate to prove he was not “other”, but American born.
This movement rallied like-minded with no particular political affiliation, without a political platform other than hate and fear. It directs aggression also against those American democrats and republicans who want to remain rational and who continue to strive for achieving humanistic ideals for all of its citizens, such as universal health care, shelter and adequate food and education. They put the fire to president Obama’s heels, and his ratings fell. They made him seem so ineffective, his promises so empty.
I wonder whether this anti-immigrant and anti-Islam reaction is an indicator of unresolved posttraumatic stress in American citizens, in response to the terrorist attacks and to their personal, severe economic losses. It’s obvious that they are not coping well in its aftermath. The middle class fears for its economic future. Counselling might be too expensive, or unavailable, especially to the large numbers of low-income earners or the unemployed. A victory is needed, not more debt and longer depressions, be it economical or emotional. Since 9-11 in 2001, it has become obvious to most Americans that their nation could not be excluded from becoming a target. They were not invincible and not safe, not even within the boundaries of their ivory tower, far away from the world’s most conflicted areas, surrounded by oceans, and with a safe neighbour to the North. They fell from grace.
The last military interventions abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, were not successful and defeat looms. Some voices within the US started to question their military’s right to overthrow governments abroad, those voices becoming stronger. Many citizens in the US seemed mistrustful of their government and want less, not more government interventions in their lives. As government couldn’t help them when the levies broke in New Orleans and can’t win any wars, can’t catch the terrorist perpetrators , and can’t save their home from repossession, why have so much, tax eating government anyway?
Then, god bless, Osama bin Laden was located and in a (in my view botched) military operation, he was killed, shot down like a rabid dog by Seals–trained US guns, on Pakistani (sovereign) territory.
The nation rejoiced and the crowds in front of the White House were allowed to dance and party undisturbed. The president’s face and his respectability was restored in one fell swoop, his credibility ensured. Who could blame him for giving the order to get bin Laden, dead or alive? To hell with international rule of law and justice. Why do those pesky doubters keep on asking questions? Long live the cowboy state of America!