The Aftermath of Bin Laden’s Assassination

Shamus Cooke

Like Bush, Jr., before him, Obama is proving that a puffed-up and “powerful” president is a dangerous president. It was only a matter of time before Obama used his newfound popularity and warrior credentials to wreak military havoc elsewhere. It took just three days for Obama to go from bin Laden to Yemen, where he bombed — via an aerial drone — two innocent civilians in his attempt to assassinate an American citizen who makes pro-Jihad Youtube videos.

This could be just the beginning of Obama’s tough guy exploits. The “victory” over bin Laden that has unified the U.S. political establishment will not halt U.S. foreign policy, but push it into new territory, while also helping to unify U.S. politicians around an equally nefarious domestic policy, just in time for elections.

One crucial effect of bin Laden’s extra-judicial execution has been a shift of national dialogue. Although it is true that Americans will never forget the events of 9/11, they had in fact moved on.

Americans have been focused on bank bailouts, high unemployment, Medicare and Social Security, the state budget deficits and the subsequent attack on labor unions that spawned the events in Wisconsin.  

Now we are being dragged back ten years in time, when foreign terrorism was in the forefront of the national psyche; when a military-inspired nationalism seemed to unite everyone — rich and poor, bankers and the unemployed — against an alleged foreign threat; when the internal problems of the U.S. were all but ignored. 

The Arab world is being dragged back into the past too. Before the string of Arab revolutionary movements, the average Arab felt alienated and powerless, more prone to act out violently against a foreign oppressor. The Arab mass movements proved that bin Laden’s movement was a miserable failure. By over-exaggerating the importance of killing bin Laden — whom nobody has heard from in years — the U.S. is giving credibility to the tactic of terrorism (to achieve social change) where none should exist.

Terrorism has been discredited by the Arab revolution, but remains the only ideological foothold that the U.S. has to remain in the Middle East. The Arab revolution is the X factor in U.S. foreign policy — the Obama Administration has flipped flopped back and forth in trying to deal with the situation. Obama supported the Egyptian dictator until his downfall was imminent; he quietly continues to support the dictators in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Yemen, while declaring war on the dictator in Libya.

The dictator in Yemen has slaughtered over a 140 of its citizens in an attempt to drown the revolution in blood. Obama’s recent drone bombing in Yemen may be the opening salvo in a campaign that attempts to divert the revolutionary movement into the channels controlled by the U.S. military, as is happening in Libya. The U.S. is no amateur in using social crisis as a way to penetrate a foreign country. 

Libya may also be affected by Obama’s pumped up military prowess. Different elements of the U.S. media have focused on “finishing the job” in Libya, which would mean a greater U.S. military intervention. This could possibly lead to another great “victory” for Obama if he were to assassinate another enemy of the U.S., who, like bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, was a former U.S. ally.

If the social movements in either Libya or Yemen are stamped out by U.S. military aggression, the warning will be obvious to other working people contemplating a revolutionary movement against a dictatorial government.  

The murder of bin Laden is especially affecting Pakistan, a country already undergoing a bombing campaign by Obama’s prized aerial drones. Pakistan is in the U.S. crosshairs for allegedly harboring bin Laden and now, the new number one most wanted terrorist, Ayman al-Zawahri. Patrick Quinn of the Associated Press reports on the subject, which could easily be used by Obama for justifying increased war:

In recent years, bin Laden is thought to have had little control of the group he founded. Instead, much of the original group’s core operations are thought to have been run by its number two, Egyptian cleric Ayman al-Zawahri, who is also thought to be hiding in Pakistan.  

Inside the post-bin Laden United States, Americans are being told not to relax, but to prepare for a counterattack. Eileen Sullivan of the Associated Press reports:

Local law enforcement has been encouraged to use closed-circuit televisions to monitor sensitive areas, establish neighborhood watch programs, conduct security sweeps for explosives and do background checks on employees. These are not new suggestions, but counterterrorism officials want to remind the country to be on extra alert in order to stave off potential retaliatory attacks by bin Laden supporters.

Again, the national focus is being shifted, away from the social problems of the U.S. back towards “national security.” Who benefits from this shift? The same people who benefit from the foreign wars: the big banks and large corporations in general, supported by the Republicans and Democrats. In the same way that these entities profit from financing destruction abroad and the “rebuilding” afterward, they also benefit from the destruction of social programs and labor unions, since both eat into the profits of mega-corporations.  

The wars must continue or expand because they make some of people very rich. Therefore, most people inside the U.S. must suffer cuts to virtually every social program, since all the tax money must be funneled into more war. It is this fact that currently unites the Republicans and Democrats over their militarized foreign policy abroad and their domestic policy of starving individual states to force cuts while demanding massive cuts on a federal level.

The best way to stop U.S. military aggression is to focus on the internal problems of the U.S., by demanding that the hundreds of billions of military and war spending be used instead to create millions of jobs. Additional hundreds of billions can be raised by dramatically increasing taxes on the rich and corporations to spend on jobs, education, Medicare and Social Security, and other social programs.  

About the Author: Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action. He can be reached atportland@workerscompass.org 

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action. He can be reached at portland@workerscompass.org