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Will Bin Laden's Death Justify More War?

Osama bin Laden killing: Victory in the war on terror is now within the West's reach After Osama bin Laden's death, we can finally destroy al-Qaeda and finish the job in Afghanistan. – UK Telegraph/ Con Coughlin

Dominant Social Theme: Use this opportunity to kill a lot more people?

Free-Market Analysis: The Telegraph's truculent war columnist Con Coughlin is in full cry post bin Laden. Our point regarding the al-Qaeda chief's demise, made yesterday, was that the West had designed it in order to quit Afghanistan "with honor." The probably false death of bin Laden was designed to smooth the way for this event. But as certain feedbackers pointed out yesterday, and as Coughlin now points out, there are other possibilities. According to Coughlin, bin Laden's death provides the West with a new opportunity to win its various wars. In this article, we'll examine that possibility.

For Coughlin and others who think like him, the peace dividend is always to be spent pursuing further war. He admits in this article (excerpted above) that the common wisdom is that bin Laden's death will "speed up" the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. He admits that British Prime Minister David Cameron recently indicated that a rapid draw down was more likely post bin Laden than before. There are other examples as well.

If so, war (society-reshaping war) may not be an option at the moment. A "long war" may be all they can manage (one which involves various societies in low-intensity conflicts over a long period of time), and long wars (as opposed to a 20th century world war) are merely a way of controlling social change, not radically reconfiguring global society. Why settle for a long war? Because the West is topping into the abyss financially and the elite lacks the tools to radically reshape perceptions thanks to the new communications technology.

Wars need to be carefully cultivated, especially in their initial phases. But it seems the elites are having a good deal of trouble controlling the message these days. Getting OUT of resource-draining wars may be all they can manage at the moment. Ordinarily such wars wouldn't be a problem in our view, but right now they are, given people's perceptions of the waste and ruin involved. The Afghan war has gone on too long and the elites could be in danger of losing control of the message to an irrecoverable degree. 

Coughlin admits as much in the article excerpted above; that the common wisdom is that bin Laden's death will "speed up" the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. He is well aware that the grounds have been prepared for a diminution of war. He admits that British Prime Minister David Cameron recently indicated that a rapid draw down was more likely post bin Laden than before. 

He even quotes Barney Frank (as we did yesterday) on the issue: "We went there to get Osama bin Laden. And we have now gotten him." Republicans, he points out are more worried about the cost, which is running at $100 billion a year. He also allows that President Barack Obama might be tempted to use the death as a way to extricate America from the war. Coughlin asks, "What better campaign slogan for next year's presidential contest than 'First we got bin Laden, and then we got the hell out?'"

But he is prepared to argue the other side, and to give voice to a more aggressive meme. Coughlin is giving voice to another possibility, just as some DB feedbackers did yesterday. Below, then, we'll present Coughlin's points along with certain rebuttals in order to examine a full spectrum of war-related possibilities. We believe the Afghan war itself is at a critical juncture, and as we pointed out yesterday such a juncture may actually involve the high-water mark of the Anglo-American empire, so these are not insignificant issues. Back to Coughlin.

Having made the anti-war case, Coughlin predictably reverses it. "Hang on a minute," he writes, "just because we no longer have to endure bin Laden's rambling anti-Western tirades does not mean that the threat to our security and well-being has suddenly evaporated." He points out that in Britain, the current threat from terrorism is classed as "severe", indicating the possibility of a severe attack in the near future.

Now Coughlin is off and running. Elaborations on the truth are to be thickly spread; in fact if the powers-that-be want to use this approach they will have to endorse a variety of questionable intel evolutions. Coughlin endorses them all in this article. But they are questionable. To start with the "tapes" that were released of bin Laden's "ramblings" were not his at all, but clumsy imitations by Western intel intent on raising the domestic "fear factor."

By simply assuming their veracity, Coughlin does his readers a disservice. He continues in this vein by taking British authorities at their word that a "threat" purports a severe attack, upcoming. Of course how should the British authorities know, as there are still unanswered questions about British authorities' incompetence or downright complicity regarding previous attacks?

Coughlin then points out that President Obama can count himself lucky that a series of recent plots, "from the underpants bomber at Detroit airport to the devices concealed in printer cartridges," were foiled. Not really. There is every evidence that American intel generally and the FBI in particular were not especially discouraging of these incidents in their formative stages (anymore than British intelligence) and in fact practiced a form of entrapment.

Having led readers down the proverbial garden path with a series of half-truths at most, Coughlin asserts that "to quote the spooks' favorite mantra, the enemy only needs to get lucky once." Of course this is a perfect rationale for an endlessly elaborated police state, but Coughlin doesn't see it that way. He moves on to his central thesis:

With bin Laden gone, the desire to declare "mission accomplished" and withdraw our troops from the fray is perfectly understandable. But to do so would be foolhardy in the extreme. For, rather than seeing the al-Qaeda leader's removal from the scene as the final act in the war on terror, it should be seen as a decisive breakthrough – and one that could provide the West with the ability to press home its advantage on a number of fronts, and achieve a comprehensive and lasting victory.

After ten years and a trillion dollars, Coughlin wishes spend more treasure and spill more blood. It is not his money, nor his blood, but he is eager to put forth what is necessary. "The first priority, of course, must be to eviscerate whatever remains of al-Qaeda's infrastructure, particularly in Pakistan," he writes. He includes "newly established franchises" in Yemen and Somalia. (Really? How does he know?)

Coughlin is not bothered by questions about al-Qaeda's antecedents or the CIA's involvement in setting up whatever actually existed of the organization. Having skipped over these critical issues, he is onto the probably fictitious "mother lode" of material – computers, documents and DVDs – seized during the raid on bin Laden's hideout.

Since there is no definitive proof that the hideout to which he refers was bin Laden's or that bin Laden was even there (except for the word of the US Administration) this mother lode is somewhat dubious. But no doubt a good deal of information shall emerge – whatever the CIA wishes to emerge of course. There is no way of checking on the veracity of any of this.

Coughlin has other points to make. He really wants to use Pakistan's complicity in bin Laden's presence in that country – a complicity he assumes but cannot prove, to justify a full-scale invasion of Pakistan by the West. He wants to remove both the Pashtun/Taliban and al-Qaeda from Pakistan. The former have lived there for 2,000 years and the latter may not exist at all. But Coughlin continues blithely onward. "The origins of the current conflict lie in the Taliban's refusal to surrender bin Laden to the Americans following the September 11 attacks," he writes.

In fact, the Taliban offered bin Laden to the US if the US would provide any proof of bin Laden's complicity in 9/11 – which bin Laden was busy denying. The US declined and thus the Taliban declined as well. This history, too, escapes Coughlin. Having posited ten years' worth of half-truths and non-truths, Coughlin finishes with what he apparently considers an optimistic note, that the "democracy" movements now sweeping the Middle East are directing the youth of those nations toward "a very different set of priorities."

In fact, it has been proven – even admitted – that Western intel (particularly the CIA) is behind many of these movements, having trained the "youth" of numerous countries in various protesting techniques and having provided funding besides.

Coughlin is all for using bin Laden's death to justify yet more war and to expand the hostilities. This is indeed a tack that can be taken by the powers-that-be, but until we see a more definitive focus on these sorts of arguments we shall remain somewhat wary of them. Our hypothesis is that bin Laden's apparently phony death was designed at least in part as a way to extricate the West from Afghanistan. And if this is the case, then our arguments of yesterday regarding the high-water mark of empire may well prove valid.

A worldwide empire run by the Anglo-American banking elites will be of benefit to very few and the detriment in our view of billions already suffering under the yoke of increasingly vehement regulatory democracy. A withdrawal from Afghanistan will leave the empire fighting to preserve its gains rather than expanding aggressively. Given the increasing repressiveness and authoritarianism of the current system, anything that retards the progress of the military-industrial complex is probably desirable.


Coughlin has provided us with a pro-war dominant social theme. But at the moment we remain unconvinced. We shall continue to observe events unfold to see if we can gain a better understanding how the unexpected death of bin Laden may play out. War in fact is only one application of the bin Laden death meme. Others may emerge even more powerfully in the near future, and we shall try to analyze them as they appear.

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