Sunday, March 3, 2024

EVERYTHING BUT – So Osama’s dead!


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If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. – William Shakespeare 
WELL, JUST BECAUSE Osama bin Laden is gone, it doesn’t mean his mission is. If I were an American, I wouldn’t be gloating yet.
I am just a Bajan, and I have mixed feelings about the al Qaeda leader’s killing. Before President Barack Obama gets his hackles up, I hold no brief for the accused terrorist. But he was wanted dead or alive – apparently more dead, if reports that he was shot while unarmed are true.
Of course, the families of the victims of 9/11 wouldn’t be especially bothered; they couldn’t care about my semantics. And their celebration into the wee hours of yesterday is not misunderstood – and hardly misplaced, if everything said of bin Laden by the American authorities is true.
The 2001 attack on New York’s Twin Towers deeply wounded a superpower, its bewildered president and its exasperated and outraged people. Only revenge, that very basic human emotion, would do – even if it would take a decade.
Even if bin Laden wasn’t the mastermind of 9/11, he headed the terrorist organization that was – and that would be good enough!
Still there are questions that haunt us all. 
Why did it take so long? How come the Pakistani powers that be didn’t know bin Laden was living sumptuously among them? Did they really have a take on Osama’s capture? And if they didn’t, how do they feel about the incursion of their sovereignty? 
How does the Pakistan government really feel about another country carrying out its retribution there? Since last I heard, Pakistan was run by the Pakistanis.
Also, what was the haste to bury bin Laden at sea? Were the Americans afraid Osama’s minions might dig him up from terra firma and claim he too was risen?
What will his wife now do? And his family? Will their own personal revenge be on the cards?
Will bin Laden’s death in the brutally precise manner qualify him for martyrdom? How many others will be prepared to die in his name?
And of equal import, will we ever learn what first made former ally Osama bin Laden hate America so? 
Methinks whatever answers are forthcoming, the majority – and particularly to the last question – will be clothed in rhetoric, circumlocution, prevarication and jingoism.
It can’t be emphasized enough: just because bin Laden is gone, it doesn’t mean his cause is. 
Bin Laden was reported to have said once that jihad (his Muslim holy war) would continue even if he was not around; and one can be reasonably sure he made arrangements for it. There may be hundreds of thousands now hating America and all its friends – real or perceived.
This is not only a time to be cautious, as Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has advised Barbadians; it is a time to be equally afraid.
We seem all agreed that reprisals by bin Laden’s extremist following are likely. We are not exactly sure where or how; and that must be the basis of our fear. This is not a call to panic; but an urging to take Mr Stuart’s utterance seriously: that every country has to be interested in the possible or likely repercussions from bin Laden’s execution.
As the Prime Minister has pointed out, Britain, Canada and the United States – who do tourism business, among other things, with us – are still at war with al Quaeda, and will remain so. 
We must indeed take great care that we are not “overexposed”.
And to think that along with grappling with probably the most challenging debt crisis in Barbados’ history, we must now walk on eggshells for the sake of our national security – hoping that never the terrorists shall come knocking at our gates!
Confucius’ counsel is worth a ponder: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”


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