May 09, 2011

Muslim Soul On Ice

Naturally, it's a titillating suggestion that the "take out" of Osama bin Laden was a hoax. (I do love the way non-combatant politicians and bureaucrats, such as Leon Panetta, quickly gravitate toward tough-guy lingo. I heard Panetta talk about the decision to "blow the chopper" to keep it from falling into Pakistani [our trusted allies] hands. I always thought Leon looked more or less exactly like a character actor from a 1950s sitcom, maybe a pharmacist on "Dobie Gillis." The real grunts must get a kick out of these guys in the wool suits and colorful Hermes ties talking about "blowing choppers" and "taking the target out.")

Anyway, I was personally halfway convinced OBL was already dead, relying upon such noted tin foil hatspeople as Donald Rumsfeld, General Tommy Franks and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan as sources. It did seem the most likely explanation for his complete disappearance. Iran's government seems a lot more than just "halfway convinced."

Conspiracy theories usually fit within the interstices of a consensus factual pattern. Here, the Obama Administration has been most helpful in throwing fuel on the fire by (a) refusing to release photos of the dead man, (b) setting a world record for DNA matching and (c) dumping the body into the Arabian Sea before the body could get cold(er). Or thaw out more, depending on whom you believe. The most popular conspiracy theory making the rounds now, advanced by the always stable and reliable Alex Jones of Austin, TX, is that bin Laden died as the result of U.S. action in Tora Bora, in 2001. The American military retrieved the body, froze it and waited for an opportune time to use it. Like a week ago Sunday.

One thing I would say: the above version of supposed events is only slightly more unbelievable than the Official Story, which is that Osama bin Laden lived more or less openly in the Paki equivalent of West Point, in a large house, and undoubtedly received routine medical care and visitors at the house for over six years. All without detection, or leaking of his whereabouts to the United States, despite the $25 million price on his head. You cannot escape the conclusion that the Pakistani government was protecting bin Laden with the full complicity of its political and military institutions. In fact, Pakistan rescued bin Laden from the Americans. What other way is there of looking at the situation realistically?

Well, other ways, of course, because the Washington chattering classes have to find other ways to describe this obvious, broad-based betrayal for one simple reason: Pakistan possesses the Muslim Bomb, that guarantor of American deference and even diffidence. This is such a hairball one might think that Mr. Obama himself might want to buy into the conspiracy theory and say, Dallas-and-Bobby-Ewing-style, that it just never happened. Bin Laden was always dead and Pakistan just never had to hide anybody.

I doubt that, and so do you, probably. There have been massive hoaxes on the American people, even involving complicated events requiring complicity and cooperation from large numbers of people. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was probably the most notable example. On August 2, 1964 the U.S.S. Maddox (above), an American destroyer, came under attack in Vietnam's Gulf of Tonkin by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Many rounds of ordnance were fired by both sides but the Maddox remained afloat. Two days later, on August 4, the Maddox supposedly came under attack again by torpedo boats. This is where the hoax began: there was no second attack, but the Johnson Administration wanted to use the "series" of attacks as a reason to escalate the war from advisors and materiel support to the South Vietnamese government to a full-scale ground war using U.S. troops. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed by Congress (with Senator Wayne Morse, D-OR, famed iconoclast, casting one of the two dissenting votes), gave Johnson the authorization he wanted. The tragedy of the Vietnam War then followed.

Nixon and Kissinger also bombed Cambodia in 1970 and falsified bombing reports and maps to conceal the expansion of the war, all with the cooperation of commanders in place in Vietnam. So such large-scale, complicated hoaxes can be accomplished with enough dishonesty and political motivation.

In the present case, it's hard to see how it really matters. Bin Laden is dead either way, either for a decade or since last Sunday night. The story told by the Obama Administration regarding concealment of the photos and the disposal of the body also has a surface plausibility, and anyway, if the photos were revealed and the body preserved, it would not put an end to the conspiracy theories. You can never put an end to a good conspiracy theory. My own guess is that the "shooting of bin Laden" is just not worth faking to the powers that be. There are too many ways the truth could come out: a Navy SEAL on the mission lets something out, a disgruntled Bush Administration member mumbles something off the record about bin Laden already being dead, et cetera.

On the other hand, how the hell did the United States fake a sea battle in 1964? That's taking the "fog of war" stuff a little far, it seems. More validation for the Vacillating Prince's dictum that there are more things in Heaven and Earth than dreamt of in our philosophy.

1 comment:

  1. Machipongo John5:42 PM

    It's easy to fake a sea battle if the only witnesses are bluejackets who aren't too sure what they actually saw (radar returns from your own shells exploding that look like enemy boats). Ambiguous reports are easily turned into absolutely, definitely reports by upper layers in the hierarchy that have their own agendas. See "The Pentagon Papers".