The execution of Bin Laden will probably have zero impact on the war in Afghanistan or even the campaign against al-Qaeda.
On March 13, 2002, just six months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush said: “I am truly not that concerned about [Bin Laden].” In April 2002, Gen. Richard Myer, then chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated the same theme: “The goal has never been to get Bin Laden.”
In 2010, Leon Panetta, director of the CIA and soon-to-be Secretary of Defense, said: "I think at most, we're looking at maybe 50 to 100 [al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan], maybe less."
Thus, the commando raid and execution of Bin Laden should be assessed for its political rather than military impact.
The country has largely turned against the Afghanistan war. It is a losing cause for the occupiers at the cost of over $128 billion per year. Afghanistan is a quagmire. The raid on the compound and the execution of Bin Laden provides a temporary celebratory boost for the officials in the Department of the Defense and the CIA.
While the killing of Bin Laden has little military value on the ground, it is being used by the Obama administration not to bring an end to the U.S. “war on terror” but rather to accelerate the tendency of the United States to send kill teams around the world; to engage in targeted assassinations; and to intensify the drone attacks on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere. It serves as both a distraction and justification for the aerial attacks on Libya, which just two days before Bin Laden’s killing had taken the lives of Muammar Gadaffi’s youngest son and three grandchildren under the age of 12.
Two years since President Obama promised to close the Guantanamo prison center, it remains open and military commission trials are taking place. Hillary Clinton was quick to provide a link between the killing of Bin Laden and information derived from the interrogation of prisoners in Guantanamo. This provides the basis for the Obama administration to back away from closing the torture center.
Osama Bin Laden came out of a super-wealthy Saudi family and functioned as a recipient of CIA funds in a reactionary, covert war to bring down the Afghan government that took power in a revolution in 1978. That Afghan government described itself as “socialist” and attempted to carry out far-reaching social and economic reforms, including land distribution, literacy programs, and the promotion of education and civil rights for women and girls. The CIA covert operation to topple the government began prior to the Soviet military intervention of December1979.
In the 1990s, and following the creation of U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia and the occupation of Saudi Arabia by U.S. military forces, Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda turned against the United States, their former partners. His privileged position within the Saudi establishment was ended.
The attack carried out on Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center was a terrible crime. Thousands of innocent working people were killed. According to government reports, 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudi nationals; none were Iraqi or Afghani.
Since the time that 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, there have been 17,000 Afghans killed, over 1 million Iraqis killed and over 6,000 U.S. service members killed with tens of thousands more suffering from life-changing physical and emotional wounds.
In one of the most shocking massacres of the nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan, nine children were killed March 2 in a NATO airstrike. The children were collecting wood to heat their homes, when, as an 11-year-old survivor recounted, “The helicopters … hovered over us and started shooting. They fired a rocket which landed on a tree. The tree branches fell over me and shrapnel hit my right hand and my side. [The helicopters] shot the boys one after another.” What is this if not “terrorism?”
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were never about “national security,” and are all about installing U.S. military bases and client regimes in geo-strategic regions of the world. The people of those countries never threatened or waged war on the United States; they fight only to rid their countries of foreign occupation.
It is clear that the U.S. government is using the trophy killing of Bin Laden to convince the public to agree to endless war. But the temporary boost in approval ratings and patriotism cannot hide for long the wars’ fundamental contradictions.
The people of Afghanistan will never accept the occupation of their country. U.S. soldiers and their families continue to needlessly suffer. While the government claims there is no money for vital social services and jobs, they find limitless funding for multiple wars and occupations. These wars continue to only serve the interests of a tiny few.
End the occupations! Bring all the troops home now!