The death of Osama bin Laden ushers in an period of relief fit for Sophocles!
It should surprise no one that violent revolutionaries are unfit to govern the impact of the means by which they rule. This tale is well trodden when one considers Western literature, whether it be high Attic, Elizabethean drama or the political mien of Machiavelli.
Sinic civilization refers to the innate ability a ruler to govern in advance of impact, such is the ‘mandate of heaven’ throughly fleshed out in the maxims of Sun Tzu. With the death of Osama bin Laden we can travail his ideological grasp to glimpse the mind of a true revolutionary sadly unfit to govern the very dream he so violently implemented. To use the patois of intelligence officials, bin Laden had long lost both tactical and strategic depth in his advance against the Great Satan.
Perhaps the West will not be so lucky next time, especially regarding Iran and its goal of nuclear hegemony. We were fortunate to have an enemy easily paralyzed by the burden of ideology. As Raymond Aaron wrote in his magisterial ‘The Opium Of The Intellectuals’, the rigid fixation that permeates the vision of ideologues blinds them to empirical realities. Such blindness provides both elan as solace while seeding defeat.
However, we need never believe in any form of determinism. Osama bin Laden’s clarion call to arms against the West remains valid. Just look at Somalia, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Yemen. The Satanic grasp that has become Islamo-fascism had yet to unfold its lethal arsenal. If we look ardently, we’ll see what drove bin Laden to his clarion call.
The bewitchment that accompanies the adherents of ideology view the world through the prism of mystification. The recent hearlding of the hidden twelfth Imam by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fits the informing template of how the West ought to view its protagonists throughout the Near East. Gone are references that dominate the lexicon of academic and policy wonks. We are dealing with a far more primitive hold.
The dream that goaded Osama bin Laden had its origin in the sandy foothills of Afghanistan during the early 1980’s. Osama bin Laden was an American proxy that ended the Cold War. Already militant in his vision, the win that brought down a genocidal expansionist atheism animated a petulant suicidal grasp in harnessing that vision upon American soil. To the radicalized Mujahideen the West was ‘halal’, an unredeemed spoiler that required the justified wrath of Allah and his righteous followers.
The giant political trap that is September 11 has its own logic, easily discerned. We were to be caught in the crosshairs of a deadly civil war between lethal noncombatants and Arab regimes in the saddle.
It never unfolded that way! And because of it, we can heed the political strength that animates the strategic craft of realism. For the victimhood and rage that grounds the political pathos of the Near East and Africa must contend with the realism that is liberty.
Can a natural anthropology check the nuclear ambitions of violent hegemonies? We’re about to see.
My guess is informed from Ibn Khaldun, Kissenger and Toynbee: archaic regimes that ignore its supplicants suffer breakdown or revolution. No amount of lyric consolation, no bread or circus can stop the implicit drive to freedom. Not even disaffected and sullen peoples can long be fed on the empty promise that bonds the ideologue to his passion. If bin Laden dreamed of American retreats in the land of Arabia, he was not prepared to witness nor govern the reversal that became Iraq and the Arab Spring.
The Bush freedom agenda is now on public display throughout Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria and hosts of other places home to Islam. Arab pathologies are now working out the hazardous political wreckage that autocracy and militancy have become.
How else to put it: Osama bin Laden and his ideological challenge is a spent force.