Thursday, March 23, 2006

Osama Is Losing

Commentary by Martin Kelly
April 21, 2004

Well, give Beardy credit where credit’s due, he’s remarkably eloquent for a corpse. His taped message of April 15 may mean that history might record that the greatest achievement of Osama bin Laden was issuing a press release by séance.

Although the babblings have been declared to be ‘probably’ his voice, in this context the word ‘probably’ has the same meaning as it would in the phrase, ‘the sky is probably pink’. Or, ‘George W. Bush is probably a conservative’.

No, Osama wafted off into the everafter some time near the end of 2001, underneath 6,000lbs of explosive. His demented heirs and lunatic successors have stretched themselves to the limits of their capabilities, in spite of the barriers to fighting them that we place in our own paths.

This tape shows they are losing. It shows we have them on the hoof. It shows they are nearly spent.

Osama didn’t deal. He was not just an all or nothing guy himself, he inculcated that spirit of all or nothing-ness in his followers. In order to tell other people to hijack planes and kill themselves to achieve your goal, you have to be a pretty ruthless fanatic. Treaties and truces are appurtenances of a culture that, although committed, is not fanatical. It recognises that there are objective limits to its goals, and is prepared to acknowledge these in legal form.

Osama knew no limits to his goals other than total war and total victory. He would have made a good neo-conservative.

Why are they even prepared to acknowledge that their ambitions may have limits? Because we have been so successful at arresting and killing his followers.

Since 9/11, no terrorist attacks in the USA. In Europe, one, Spain. Arrests are being made continuously and the leader of the plot blew himself up rather than be arrested, decapitating the cell. There have been arrests in England, Italy, Belgium and Germany. Although the culture of Muslim nations means that the Al Qa’edists are better able to mount terrorist attacks against foreigners in Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia or Indonesia, they have very little capability to do it either in Europe or the USA. The simplest form of security advice that there seems to be is - don’t work in or travel to Islamic countries. Earn and spend your dollars at home instead, while we still do things like jobs.

In terms of securing ourselves, we might just have won.

Another reason it just doesn’t sound like Osama is that it displays innate ignorance of European culture. For all his faults, Osama had been around the block before he took to the caves, and was a well-educated, able and quite sophisticated man. This doesn’t of course excuse his megalomania and viciousness, but the real Osama would have known better than to refer to that non-existent demographic, the ‘Europeans’. Previously, he had specifically threatened the UK, Italy, Spain and Poland. A thug-gangster-crazy like Osama, as mean as hell and violent with it, wouldn’t ever back down from a threat like that. Whoever wrote and recorded that message didn’t have a clue about the sensibilities of the target audience, particularly after Fabrizio Quattrocchi’s injunction to his killers that he would show them how an Italian dies. Nothing will stiffen the Italian people, not as Europeans but as Italians, than seeing one of their own being butchered by barbarians. Although the far-right is an unwelcome reality in too many European nations, they have never won conclusive power in any European election since 1945. Western Europeans tend to be slightly more patriotic and less nationalistic than many Americans might imagine.

So, the loonies of Al Qa’eda have set new battle lines, kill the Jew and the Yankee, give the ‘European’ an out. For as long as one of them is at large, for as long as their gospel can be preached without fear in the mosques and their materials distributed, they will remain as dangerous individually as they were on September 11th 2001. However, as a group they are weak, and they know it. We should know it too. Down with Osama and all his kind.