Surprises From Bin-Ladin

Text of report by anti-Kremlin Russian current affairs website Yezhednevnyy Zhurnal on 13 May

[Article by Aleksandr Shumilin: "Surprises From Bin-Ladin"]

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is exultant. "Lucky dog," many people say, because fortune has splashed on him the "joy of victory" over "terrorist number one." Not on his fellow party member, Bill Clinton, the 42d President, who began the hunt for Bin-Ladin at the end of the nineties, and not on his fervent opponent, George Bush Jr, the 43rd President, who organized the strategy and mechanism for the pursuit of Usamah in Afghan and Pakistani Tora Boras. The triumph goes to the 44th President – the same one who sharply criticized the 43rd President, scoffing at the term "war on terrorism" and promising his fellow citizens to do everything to forget the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as possible. Now his only recently absolutely losing poll numbers have shot up by six points, moving into a respectable zone for an assessment of the US President’s work (52 per cent).

In the course of one-half of his presidential term Obama has already ceased to be a pacifist in his policies, has drawn closer to international realities, and has partially parted with populism, for which he has received the reproach of leftists in the United States and Europe. And in what way does he now differ from George Bush Jr., they say. One answer suggests itself at once – in luck. And that is all. Because under him (and perhaps even thanks to Obama’s conciliatory rhetoric), Usamah stopped hiding in caves (Tora Boras) and emerged into the light of day in order to live in resort conditions (see the family video of Usamah’s walks around his estate near Islamabad). Under Obama (a coincidence?) the conflict intensified between Usamah and his closest comrade in arms, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, who, according to Saudi press reports, betrayed him as a result. From the Egyptian’s point of view, Bin-Ladin, the theory goes, became excessively absorbed in the strategy of inflicting strikes on the United States and Europe, whereas it is Islamic countries that should be "liberated from infidel rulers" first and foremost. The evidence from Zawahiri goes like this: Who overthrew Mubarak in Egypt? Why was it secular forces, and not Islamists, who found themselves on the crest of the "purifying wave" there? Any minute now and al-Qadhafi will be overthrown by secular groupings too, leaving the Islamists, including Yahya al-Libi [leader of the Libyan Fighting Group, an affiliate of al-Qa’idah], no room for credit. True, the latter will not remain in the shadows in any event now – it was he who was proclaimed the "number one" in al-Qa’idah the other day in place of Bin-Ladin.

Fortune has clearly taken a shining to Obama. For no particular reason! The "moment of catharsis" falls to the lot of the 44th President. The very thing that led to the electoral defeat of Bush Jr and the Republicans in 2008 – namely, the logic of resisting terror, the strategy of pursuing al-Qa’idah and the Taleban in Afghanistan, the established mechanism for pursuing Bin-Ladin, and so forth – all this is turning into a plus for Barack Hussein Obama. Miracles, and nothing but! And afterward at the Fort Campbell military base 6 May Obama talks about the imminent withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. A nightmare for the Afghan leader Karzai? No, the fulfilment of Obama’s pre-election promises to Americans. "A job well done!", the 44th President of the United States proclaims. Who would argue – a good platform for a second term for Barack Hussein Obama – "the lucky dog." The effect of Bin-Ladin’s elimination? Admittedly, of course, without guarantees of automatic re-election in 2012: Americans may well not succumb to the White House PR, and simply thank Barack Hussein for all his good work and say goodbye to him.

Things are different in Russia – in conditions of the absence of real politics, which have been supplanted by spin-doctoring and PR, "successes" in the fight against terror in our country have long been served up mainly in an electoral context. So it was in 1999-2000 (the blowing up of homes in Russia and the beginning of the Second Chechen Campaign), and so it was again in 2003-04, when behind the barbaric act in Beslan the Kremlin saw "the trail of a nuclear power that is seeking to tear Russia to pieces." Incidentally, it was with this electoral cycle that the Russian establishment begin to hint more and more transparently that international, that is to say, Islamist, terrorists are controlled from a single centre – the United States of America. And that Bin-Ladin is nothing other than their agent and proxy in the realization of the "American project."

By the time of the 2003-04 electoral cycle, let us recall, talk shows with anti-American "attack" anchors had appeared on the main Russian television channels. From that moment onwards they have been inculcating in us at every convenient opportunity the idea that the Twin Towers were bombed [as published] not by the Bin-Ladinites at all, but by the CIA and so forth. The battle against terrorism in our country has been increasingly perceived as a battle against the malign Yankees. The degree of anti-Americanism has been artificially raised – especially in the context of real US successes in this matter. It has reached the point that even the death of Bin-Ladin is perceived in Russia primarily in an anti-American key, despite the congratulations addressed to Obama from the Russian leadership. Look around: Salaried Kremlin "experts"-cum-propagandists on the corresponding TV platforms are striving in every way to reduce the significance of this event, and initially even attempted to cast doubt on the fact of Bin-Ladin’s elimination itself. Everything has been criticized by them: the "inappropriate exultation" on American streets; the violation of international law and the sovereignty of Pakistan in the conduct of the operation; the cruelty in the killing of a "powerless old man" (such a term has actually been put into circulation); the over-hasty disposal of the dead man’s body; and so on and so forth in the same vein. Let us remark that the Americans themselves are asking a lot of questions of Obama in this connection, but with another purpose – to ensure that there are no doubts about Bin-Ladin’s elimination, and so that spiteful critics in the Arab countries or Russia, for example, should charge the US Administration as little as possible with malicious intent, machinations, and other intrigues.

One would think that Bin-Ladin unequivocally symbolizes Evil directed against all countries, including Russia. That was what Putin said, entirely sincerely, immediately after 11 September 2011. But today the reaction to the fact of the elimination of the number one terrorist shows the fundamental transformation of the political and ideological aims of the Russian establishment, and clearly demonstrates the depth of the penetration of anti-American propaganda opposed from above into the brains of our TV-oriented Russian citizen. One should not be surprised if, before too long, anti-Americanism – as a symbol of the external enemy – is not served up once again as a synonym for "patriotism" and ends up being one of the main elements of the electoral platform not of United Russia [One Russia] this time, but of the United People’s Front with well-known faces. This is the surprise gift from Bin-Ladin for Russians.

Source: Yezhednevnyy Zhurnal website, Moscow, in Russian 13 May 11

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