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What’s the GOP Without bin Laden?

Posted on May 10, 2011
AP / Charles Dharapak

Catch him if you can: President Barack Obama greets military personnel before addressing troops last Friday at Fort Campbell, Ky.

By Robert Scheer

Pity Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the Republican right wing led by the forlorn slate of candidates gearing up to challenge Barack Obama in the next presidential election. They lost their cherished patriotism card as a means of deflecting attention from an economy that exploded on their watch. Beating up on Medicare won’t cut it as a platform when you don’t have the specter of Osama bin Laden to scare voters.

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Unfortunately Obama, too, was quite willing to rush off to escalate unnecessary wars, as in the ramped-up conflict with the Taliban in Afghanistan, while bin Laden was being protected by our ally Pakistan. But for the moment there is joy in witnessing the more zealous Republican hard-liners humbled by the success of a president they continuously derided as weak on defense.

There is no sane way for them to explain away how the brainy Democrat with the questioned citizenship and the oddball, Muslim-sounding name, who had dared originally to doubt the wisdom of invading Iraq, ended up succeeding where a warmongering, patriotism-on-my-lapel, Republican president had failed so miserably.

The death of bin Laden in Pakistan renders ever more ludicrous that iconic image of then-President George W. Bush strutting aboard an aircraft carrier under a banner proclaiming “Mission accomplished.” What mission had this Wrong Way Corrigan accomplished except irrationally invading Iraq, a country that had banned al-Qaida, while he cozied up to a Pakistan that had long provided bin Laden and his Taliban sponsors with critical support?

Just how long was revealed in a State Department memo declassified in 2007 that said the Pakistani government had been supporting the Taliban at least since 1995—even under ostensibly pro-U.S. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, whose husband now runs the country. “Pakistan has followed a policy of supporting the Taliban,” noted one State Department cable, adding, “U.S. intelligence indicates the ISI is supplying the Taliban forces with munitions, fuel and food.” ISI refers to the hugely powerful and secretive Inter-Services Intelligence agency, which backed bin Laden from his first emergence in Afghanistan and is the most likely explanation for his having received such secure sanctuary in Pakistan after 9/11.


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It was always Pakistan’s secret service agency that guided bin Laden from the first days, when the CIA recruited him to be one of the “freedom fighters” whom President Ronald Reagan bragged about supporting when they were our Cold War pawns in battling the Soviets. And, as should have been expected, it was Pakistan that provided him with a hiding place when he went on the run after the 9/11 attacks. Not only did Bush not challenge Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two other countries that diplomatically recognized the Taliban government while it harbored bin Laden, but he dropped the sanctions that the U.S had imposed on Pakistan in response to its developing nuclear weapons.

Remember those weapons of mass destruction that were the excuse for invading Iraq, even though President Bush knew full well that Saddam Hussein didn’t have any? Well, Pakistan did and has more today. Thanks to our providing its people with advanced aircraft, Pakistan also has the means to deliver those nukes on targets far and wide. The scary thing is that the same Islamic militants in the Pakistani military who protected bin Laden have access to that nuclear arsenal.

It was also Pakistan—through the efforts of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the “father of the Islamic bomb”—that supplied North Korea, Iran and Libya with the means to attempt to build nuclear arsenals of their own. Khan’s vast nuclear smuggling network could not have flourished without the support of Pakistan’s military. Even after his network was exposed by U.S. intelligence, Khan was protected under house arrest by Bush’s ally Prime Minister Gen. Pervez Musharraf and then was granted a full pardon.

Pakistan’s nuclear program had caused President Bill Clinton to impose sanctions in retaliation, so why did Bush lift them after the 9/11 attacks? Because, Bush claimed, Pakistan was an indispensable ally in the hunt for bin Laden. Some ally, given that bin Laden was in that country most of the time he was on the lam and in the last eight years lived in its most fortified military town, a kilometer away from Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point.

Clearly, the critique of the Bush policy provided by candidate Obama proved correct; terrorism is to be defeated through skilled intelligence and surgical strikes, not colonial invasions and conventional war. Obama needs now to apply that wisdom to bringing Bush’s folly in Iraq, and his own escalation in Afghanistan, to a swift end.

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By madisolation, May 11, 2011 at 5:15 am Link to this comment

What the heck is this column supposed to be about? First, Scheer evidently thinks we’re supposed to be glad that Obama can out-war Bush? Evidently so, because he calls Obama “the brainy Democrat” who “ended up succeeding…” Ended up succeeding with what? What has changed? Are the wars over, are our over-stretched troops coming home at last, and our taxpayer dollars going to be spent for the general welfare of the people, as they were intended to be spent? Yeah, Obama’s brainy all right: brainy at getting more Defense Industry campaign contributions.
Then Scheer veers off into “Pakistan bad” propaganda, following the footsteps of Rachel Maddow, Ed Schulz, and all those other Democratic Party cheerleaders. Yes, let’s all be mad at Pakistan and its people now, but let’s always remember: it was all Bush, Bush, Bush’s fault. We got it, Scheer: Republicans Bad. Democrats Good. Election 2012 is officially underway.
“Obama needs now to apply that wisdom to bringing Bush’s folly in Iraq, and his own escalation in Afghanistan, to a swift end.” The chances of Obama doing that are nil. Oh, he’ll TALK and TALK and TALK about doing it, all right, and when he does, people like Scheer will pretend to believe him and cheer at his words. Scheer and his cohorts are nothing but a bunch of phony, pandering fools. They’re Obama’s fools, “catapulting the propaganda,” as the war criminal Bush liked to say.
Oh, and Scheer? You forgot to mention Obama’s very own, personal, pet, $100-million-a-missile war. You know, the one he declared all on his own, without seeking the approval of Congress? Libya. Maybe you can justify the actions of “the brainy Democrat” on that war in your next column.

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By JJW, May 11, 2011 at 5:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bin Laden will quickly be replaced with another evil doer.  How else could a sane person justify $ 1.2 trillion on wars and weapons while tens of thousands die for lack of affordable health care?

There is already talk the the No 2 guy is more important than Osama.

In following the money, which is your best measurement of policy, there is no difference between Bush/Cheney and Obama. The war profiteers have never had it so good.

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By Arabian Sinbad, May 11, 2011 at 3:37 am Link to this comment

Robert Scheer fails to make the most important point about ending terrorism, which is for the United States to stop its state-sponsored terrorism and that of Israel’s state-sponsored terrorism that has been going on for decades.

The Al-Qaida’s type of terrorism is just a desperate poor-man counter-terrorism to the large scale state-sponsored terrorism practiced by both Israel and the United states for decades! One can write a fat volume to document American and Israeli state-sponsored terror around the world, and particularly in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, May 11, 2011 at 3:23 am Link to this comment

The MIC has grown into its own voting block, much like the federal and state governments.

Perpetual war keeps them working.

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