Robert Fisk: If this is a US victory, does that mean its forces should go home now?

Iran spoke for many Arabs when it said Bin Laden’s death took away the West’s reason to have troops in the region – Linked on our blogs with Robert Fisk, Great Britain. – Published on The Independent, by Robert Fisk, May 4, 2011.
(Watch also Robert Fisk on Bin Laden’s death, a video interview by AlJazeera english, 5.48 min, published on rabble.ca,  May 6, 2011 … and find him on wikipedia).

So why are we in Afghanistan? Didn’t the Americans and the British go there in 2001 to fight Osama bin Laden? Wasn’t he killed on Monday? There was painful symbolism in the Nato airstrike yesterday – scarcely 24 hours after Bin Laden’s death – that killed yet more Afghan security guards. For the truth is that we long ago lost the plot in the graveyard of empires, turning a hunt for a now largely irrelevant inventor of global jihad into a war against tens of thousands of Taliban insurgents who have little interest in al-Qa’ida, but much enthusiasm to drive Western armies out of their country … // 

… And then of course, there’s Pakistan, eagerly telling the world that it participated in the attack on Bin Laden, only to have President Zardari retract the entire story yesterday. Two hours later, we had an American official describing the attack on Bin Laden as a “shared achievement”.

And there’s Bin Laden’s secret burial in the Arabian Sea. Was this planned before the attack on Bin Laden, with the clear plan to kill rather than capture him? And if it was carried out “according to Islamic rights” – the dead man’s body washed and placed in a white shroud – it must have taken a long time for the officer on the USS Carl Vinson to devise a 50-minute religious ceremony and arrange for an Arabic-speaking sailor to translate it.

So now for a reality check. The world is not safer for Bin Laden’s killing. It is safer because of the winds of freedom blowing through the Middle East. If the West treats the people of this region with justice rather than military firepower, then al-Qa’ida becomes even more irrelevant than it has been since the Arab revolutions.

Of course, there is one positive side for the Arab world. With Bin Laden killed, the Gaddafis and the Salehs and the Assads will find it all the more difficult to claim that a man who is now dead is behind the popular revolutions trying to overthrow them. (full text).

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