Countering Bin Laden’s Six Points
Spencer Ackerman, guest host at TPM, has an interesting analysis and interview
with the anonymous author of Imperial Hubris: How the West is Losing the War on Terror
. Anonymous has identified six points that bin Laden repeatedly emphasizes in his messages that are the core of his opposition to America:
- U.S. support for Israel that keeps the Palestinians in the Israelis’ thrall;
- U.S. and other Western troops on the Arabian Peninsula;
- U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan;
- U.S. support for Russia, India, and China against their Muslim militants;
- U.S. pressure on Arab energy producers to keep oil prices low; and
- U.S. support for apostate, corrupt, and tyrannical Muslim governments.
It has been clear since our invasion of Afghanistan that the war on terror is more a political war than a military one. In order to advance our pursuit of the war on terror, we need to address these points in addition to pursuing military objectives.
Some of these points are only in the interests of the Arab nations. Most of the world favors low oil prices. Some points are not directly under the U.S.’s control. The apostate, corrupt, and tyrannical nature of many Muslim governments is not in the U.S.’s interest but it also is not something that the U.S. has much direct control over, and it is also something that can quickly be addressed. Some of the other points, though, are matters of U.S. foreign policy that the President and Congress do have a great deal of control over. Perhaps it is time that we began exercising that control wisely.
In his autobiography, former President Clinton recalls a conversation that he had with then President-elect Bush* prior to the inauguration. Clinton reports how he outlined for Bush what he saw as the nation’s biggest security problems:
- Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda,
- the absence of peace in the Middle East,
- the standoff between nuclear powers India and Pakistan,
- the ties of Pakistan to the Taliban and al-Qaeda,
- North Korea, and
It is interesting to map Clinton’s six points to bin Laden’s. Five of Clinton’s concerns relate to al-Qaeda and the Muslim world. We can only wonder where we would be if the U.S. had been pursuing these priorities since 2000.
* We all know what the asterisk is for.