You know, the word that Bin Laden is dead, I guess, a lot of people are celebrating. It just kind of makes me sad. What a waste of lives and talent all the way around. The Russians in Afghanistan to the US in Afghanistan ; it’s been an Army-devouring black hole on the planet forever. The only way to win is to subvert them all. Make the West look like the only place to be for their young people to be somebody, stop the Christian drum-beating silliness that puts their backs up, and start recruiting their best and spreading them across the American “melting pot” so that they become assimilated. I really believe the Communists were onto something by saying that there will be no religion. True, you can’t legislate belief, but you can reduce the antagonism created by these religious affiliations by making religious affiliation a negative for political and economic advancement. Religion should be about personal faith; not power over the masses.
I think – I hope – that one of the things we’re learning from this experience in finding and apprehending Bin Laden finally is that we have to think like other cultures think if we want to win. The Pakistani government and military are part and parcel of that regional tribal mentality. Like Vikings of old receiving tribute, you can bribe temporary compliance, but you can’t buy loyalty. The army and government officials put on the uniforms and have the high-tech tools, but it’s just window-dressing for a medieval society only recently introduced to the advantages of modern living. America has been just another source of revenue – not an ally, not a friend – just a means for padding ones pocket, paying lip service and smiling while stashing the cash paid for services never rendered.
There was not a person in the town and region where Bin Laden was living who did not know that Bin Laden was living there. It’s the nature of village living. Anyone who has lived in a “ Third World ” country knows that their biggest source of entertainment is watching and gossiping about what their neighbors are doing. They don’t have TV, in-home entertainment systems, air-conditioning – all designed to isolate inhabitants from their neighbors. The biggest source of entertainment in these less-technological societies is your neighbor. So until our intelligence leaders and political leaders realized that they had to exclude the Pakistani officials who played both ends against the middle, we had no hope of succeeding in finding Bin Laden. We have to be as cold-blooded and lethal as the Israeli commandos and know that for all of the handshaking and promises, America ultimately stands and falls alone.
The problem isn’t over because Bin Laden is dead. The insurgency against existing governments throughout the Muslim world is indicative of the kind of rebellion which we saw more conservatively in the 1960’s and 70’s here in the US, when the youth were tired of an establishment that saw citizens as disposable pawns of the corporate and government power games. We won a few things; we’ve lost a few others, and we keep having to remind the younger folks what freedoms and advancements were so hard-earned in those years, but I hope that we’re still making progress towards a more perfect and mutually successful future. The unrest in the Muslim world can work for or against America but it’s a case of America leading by example while restraining ourselves from the historical tendency to micromanage the development of emerging governments. We’ll win more by doing less.
Conflict will continue. Afghanistan will not be united any time soon. I hope the loss of my nephew Jason in Afghanistan was not a waste of his life. I hope that the loss of so many young men and women and the catastrophic injuries of thousands of others has not been a waste. I’m not optimistic that the world is a better place without Bin Laden – the end of only one self-idealized murderer in a world that has known so many. But I hope.