It is a great pity that the Australian mainstream media is so narrow in its choice of sources for stories to appear on its pages and in its telecasts. This point was vividly brought home to me when I read in the English language version of the Russian website Pravda.ru (truth) about the alleged killing of Al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden. The story was written by Larry Romanoff and entitled The Death of Osama bin Laden 10 January 2021).
Mr Romanoff details at some length the whole sorry saga of the alleged raid by six United States helicopters on a house in Pakistan we were told was where bin Laden was living with his three wives. A total of 77 marines literally travelled on these helicopters, crossing Pakistan airspace for nearly 3 hours. They then spent 40 minutes engaged in an intense fire fight with the occupants of the house, before returning to their ship with bin Laden’s body.
The body is then carefully tended to before being disposed of at sea. The world was treated to the whole episode being watched by Hillary Clinton and others. Mr Romanoff carefully documents the whole sorry saga, including the multiple versions offered by the United States as a response to the various improbabilities of the whole saga being revealed by reporters in the United States and elsewhere.
The scepticism was well founded. Not a word of the original version was true, from the long helicopter flight to bin Laden’s alleged hideaway, to the equally fictional burial at sea. As different parts of the story were progressively destroyed by the application of logic, common sense, well-founded scepticism about military truthfulness and a host of other reasons to doubt the original version, so it was progressively changed. It has now reached a point where almost none of the original version survives.
Romanoff was not the first author to raise serious questions about the alleged death in American hands of bin Laden. In 2008 the American author David Ray Griffin published a book Osama bin Ladin: Dead or Alive in which he sceptically reviewed the claims that bin Laden lived beyond his originally reported death date of December 2001. This was the last date upon which any messages from bin Laden had been intercepted.
Griffin’s cautious conclusion was that bin Laden had, in fact, died in December 2001 from the effects of the long-standing illness that he had suffered from for many years. This raises the obvious question: why then did the Americans go to such lengths to convey to the world that this “dangerous man” was still alive and plaguing American efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan?
The answer to that question is that the United States invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was based on a series of lies, of which the alleged role of bin Laden in the events of 11 September 2001 was but one of many tales fed to a gullible public to justify United States geopolitical ambitions. The United States invasion of Afghanistan took place in October 2001, literally because of Afghanistan’s refusal to surrender bin Laden. If bin Laden had been the mastermind behind the events of 11 September 2001 and his liberty was a major motive justifying the invasion, then it would have been very difficult to continue to justify the invasion if (a) he was, in fact, living in Pakistan, and (b) he died less than two months after the invasion. Keeping bin Laden alive for a further decade served multiple purposes, not the least of which was justifying the invasion of Afghanistan.
The bin Laden saga causes one to think of other occasions where the Americans have lied to justify their going to war against some unfortunate country. Before bin Laden had ever been heard of, the Americans had mounted a full-scale attack on Vietnam. The alleged justification was said to have been a North Vietnamese attack upon an American warship during the reign of President Lyndon Johnson.
That also turned out to be a complete lie, but not before the Americans and their allies, including Australia, had spent more than a decade waging war on the North Vietnamese. Millions of people died in that war before the Americans, somewhat rarely, were forced out in 1975.
Similarly, big lies were told in 2002 to justify the attack upon Iraq. On this occasion the ostensible reason was Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction”. No such weapons existed. One of the major real reasons for the war was control of Iraq’s oil resources. That and its geography are the major reasons the Americans and their allies, again including Australia, are still there more than 18 years later. This is despite a specific demand by the Iraqi parliament in January 2020 that all foreign troops should leave.
A similar situation applies in Syria where the Americans did not even bother to lie about the reason for being there. To this day they have been stealing Syrian oil. Were it not for Russia’s intervention at the request of the legitimate Syrian government in 2015, Syria would undoubtably have suffered “regime change” at the hands of the Americans.
The big question now is, will the incoming Biden administration be any different, not just from Trump, but from all United States presidents who since Kennedy have waged war in multiple venues around the world. The answer to that question has to be a resounding No.
If anything, the incoming Biden administration will be even more aggressive than Trump who despite his inflammatory rhetoric and multiple acts of aggression against various foreign leaders from Venezuela to North Korea never actually invaded any other country. His apparent refusal to do so was undoubtably one of the reasons he was so disliked by the United States deep state, for whom waging war is such a tremendously profitable exercise.
It is difficult to see Biden resisting such pressure. He was after all vice president under Obama until only four years ago. During his previous reign in office the United States was engaged in multiple wars and regime change operations. It is unlikely that the leopard has changed its spots. Statements made by Biden in recent weeks, and those of his equally hawkish Vice President Harris give one no confidence at all that the United States leopard has in any way changed its spots.
Biden has not made any secret of his desire for a more assertive United States role, making hawkish statements about a “return” to Europe (from where they never left) and making no signs of any willingness to disengage from the ill-judged intervention in Syria. If he has made any statements about his intentions in Iraq, I have not heard them.
Although more conciliatory on Iran than Trump, Biden nonetheless wants to renegotiate the deal signed when he was vice president (the JCPOA). The Iranians have made it clear they are not interested in renegotiating the JCP0A. In this they have the support of both Russia and China, both of whom see Iran as a valuable link in the multiple trade deals being constructed under the BRI and other arrangements.
Biden will also find that Europe has changed in the past four years, not least because of the relentless America-first policies pursued by Trump. The Europeans have just signed a huge trade deal with China that was seven years in gestation. That agreement infuriated the Americans and it is difficult to envisage the attitude of the new administration differing markedly from that pursued by Trump and his appalling secretary of state Pompeo.
While one is hopeful that the United States will show a more mature vision toward China and the European Union than has been apparent for the past four years, it would be unwise to expect too much by way of real change in United States foreign policy.Print