In Praise of Petty Tyrants

Killing Osama Bin Laden may help Obama win a second term in Washington but it will have little effect on the war in Afghanistan, now in its 10th year. And it will only intensify the so-called War on Terror with devastating consequences at home and abroad. .

As Chris Hedge, former Middle East Bureau Chief for the NY Times, recently noted, Bin Laden’s death can only inflame militant Arabs around the world who will no doubt continue their jihad against the US at whatever cost. What rank hypocrisy for Hillary Clinton to warn al-Qaida to give up terror for a peaceful political process— or else.  Why should they?

“These groups learned to speak the language we taught them. And our response was to speak in kind. The language of violence, the language of occupation?the occupation of the Middle East, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?has been the best recruiting tool al-Qaida has been handed,” wrote Hedges, who admits al-Qaida scares the hell out of him.

All the triumphal boasting about the raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, reminds me of a similar moment of faux-victory in Baghdad in December, 2003 when the US Administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, gleefully announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen. We got him!”

Acting on a tip, American soldiers found Saddam Hussein hiding in a hole in the ground just in time to have him in jail for Christmas. How relieved Bremer seemed to be about Saddam’s capture! It was the high point of his disastrous year in Baghdad as American Pro-Consul of occupied Iraq.

By the following June, Bremer would be gone. So would $8 billion US tax dollars he couldn’t account for and any chance of actually rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure.  Bremer left Iraq suddenly and in disgrace on June 28, 2004 , having failed to create democracy there and instead, fomenting a homegrown insurgency by purging former Baathists from the army and government service. His alleged mistress and her family fled to Amman, Jordan, and Saddam’s opulent palace in the Green Zone, which Bremer had transformed into a kind of Grand Central Station with office partitions, continued to be a beehive of adrenalin junkies running around like chickens with their heads cut off and no idea what they were doing.

Now, here it is 7 years later and things are just as bollixed as they were when Bremer slunk out of Baghdad.  A new crop of smart guys like General David Petraeus took over the war and engaged Sunni leaders by paying them off to stop their terrorist attacks.
This wasted another $25 billion while the ports, electrical grid, oil refineries, roads, schools, police stations, hospitals, and other public buildings were either never built or blown up when they were. The so-called “Surge” has fizzled, the insurgents are still active, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

What are we doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, anyway? Are we fighting a War on Terror, nation-building, on a humanitarian mission, or are we simply engaged in the projection of empire for oil and power? Whatever the reasons for fighting wars, our political discourse deludes us into thinking we should. Saddam Hussein came to understand this while fighting a bloody 8- year war with Iran. He was a US ally at the time.

 “Politics is when you say you are going to do one thing while intending to do another. Then you do neither what you said nor what you intended,” he said. The Iraq-Iran War ended in a in a stalemate with millions dead on either side. Bloody tyrant though he was, Saddam knew violence and terror have their limits.

 “America needs wisdom, not force. It had used force, along with the West, to its extreme extent, only to find out later that it did not achieve what they wanted.”

Saddam presumed to offer this advice to Americans in an open letter shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001. His words pretty much sum up the folly of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since then.  Saddam was hanged in 2006.  Navy Seals shot Bin Laden in 2011.Those two deaths proffer little in the way of wisdom except maybe that revenge takes time.

More articles by:
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes