May 2011 Mailbag
Being primarily a history magazine you stay away from politics and political issues, which I admire even though I find the topic(s) interesting and I’m sure we’d have similar views. I write a blog and a view weeks ago I wrote about Osama Bin Laden. I was curious if you at ACG could write about Bin Laden, specifically, what the World plans to do once we catch him (if he’s caught or even still alive), I’m curious as to your views. So far I’ve heard no plan of action from anyone…that’s not good. If memory serves me right, having an "exit strategy" is one of, if not the most important parts in a battleplan. I’m going to cut and paste my blog post about Bin Laden with the situation as I viewed it (I’d love to hear comments):
There was a show on the History Channel about people trying to kill Osama bin Laden that’s what sparked this post. We’ve been looking for Bin Laden for a long time yet i don’t think anyone has really truly thought things through about what we would do it we actually caught him. In my mind, he’s actually LESS dangerous on the run than if we captured him. Here is why:
Once captured we’d be faced with two choices: a) Imprisonment or b) Execution. However, both of those options have drawbacks.
If we put Bin Laden in prison he’d be allowed to continue his hate speech and evil preaching, thus potentially making more converts. Given the already high number of Muslim converts in the prison system, putting him in prison would be bad because he could unify them all and make things very very bad. Also, Bin Laden is seen as a major religious figure, second only to Muhammad. If we put him in prison his followers around the world would try to break him out, guaranteed. We could try a secret prison but the drawback to that would be the 24/7-soulless-only-care-about-themselves-media would try hard to find out where the prison is so they could get "the story" and broadcast it everywhere for all (including Bin Laden followers) to hear, thus his people would try to break him out. Also, for some reason, there are many people in America who feel secret prisons are wrong given the scandals with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay (even though they protect us). These people would protest Bin Laden’s being kept hidden because if hidden no one would know what authorities would be or could be doing to him, they could be torturing him which is bad (even though he did declare war on us and kill thousands of innocent people he "is still allowed human rights"). So, anywhere we hold him he’s gonna draw a crowd to him thus the drawback.
This is the only other option some might say. However, the major drawback is that if we kill him we make him a martyr and terrorist attacks around the world would increase drastically as terrorists bomb people and places in Bin Laden’s memory and honor. The usual "Allah Akbar" (God is great) would be replaced with something similar to "Bin Laden Akbar". His death would solidify everything he’s taught about religious suicide and would inspire millions to do the same. One thing no one has thought of is the fact that if we keep him alive he is in contradiction to his teachings, something we could exploit! He preaches that martyrdom, religious suicide bombing, etc…is the duty of the righteous and you’ll go to heaven and get all kinds of rewards. He preaches this yet he has not followed his own preaching. Actions speak louder than words, were he to make himself a martyr he would inspire millions to his cause, but he hasn’t done that. I don’t think anyone mentions this fact because we don’t want him to do it and make things more difficult for us. But, if we captured him we could exploit his inaction by putting out the word that he was weak and a coward and preached one thing yet lived another way. "You can kill a man, but you can’t kill what he stands for. Not unless you first break his spirit" (X-Files). "Cut off the head of the snake and the rest will die" (Alexander the Great). In warfare, one of the many goals is to take something that the enemy uses as a weapon and turn it against them. Example: In the Vietnam War the United States had a major artillery advantage over the Vietnamese. I mean, one phone call could annihilate an entire area. However, the Vietnamese figured out that when the United States called artillery to an area or bombed an area that meant that troops were coming. So, the Vietnamese would hide in their holes and hunker down through the barrage. Then, when the Americans came to put boots on the ground, the Vietnamese would pop out and ambush them. One of Bin Laden’s greatest weapons is Islam, it’s what drives him, it’s what he loves and values (another war goal is to attack what people love and use it against them), it’s what he uses. If we could turn Islam against him we’d win.
This leads me to one of two options that I’ve thought of that could work were we to capture Bin Laden.
While I’ve pointed out that execution has it’s drawbacks it could work for us. However, the only drawback is that to execute him in the way I’m proposing would be to do something illegal: take war trophies/prizes. When Julius Caesar when to war in Gaul he won. But the thing he did to solidify his victory was to capture the leader Vercingetorix and take him to Rome. In Rome, Caesar threw a huge party and paraded Vercingetorix through the streets showcasing Rome’s dominance over the barbarian Gauls. At the end of the parade, Vercingetorix was executed. Some say Caesar did it publicly other say it was done quietly when everyone had forgotten about Vercingetorix. We could do something similar. We could parade Bin Laden through the streets of New York, and the TVs of the world, and we in the United States and the West would be declaring our victory over Bin Laden and terrorism. Hopefully, after such a display the terrorists at large and abroad would see this and be deterred from future violence. It would be a show of strength to our enemies. AND it would show to the rest of the world that the United States still has strength.
b) Religious Conversion.
I think this option could work the best, however we could never do it because the liberal hippie douches in the United States would decree "Separation of Church and State" and all other manner of anti-religious rhetoric…even if it could work! With this option we would convert Osama Bin Laden from Islam to Christianity and then have him publicly declare his conversion. Remember how i said that his martyrdom would inspire millions? This would be just like that only on the opposite side. If he turned his back on Islam it would sow seeds of doubt so strong that it’s difficult to comprehend what would happen. All i know is that if the leader of, and the face of, Islamic Terrorism did an about face and left Islam, it would cast a shadow of disillusion over the entire movement and would sow dissension among his followers. I think of Alexander the Great. He established a large world empire, but once he died it fell to pieces because without the leader holding them together everyone went their own way and things feel apart.
To conclude, we have no idea what we’d do with Bin Laden once we caught him. The thought worse than that is that he’d be in the hands of our politicians who don’t know anything!
Keep on writin’,