Has Bush outfoxed bin Laden?

R. A. Hettinga rah@shipwright.com
Mon, 22 Oct 2001 11:15:07 -0400


Has Bush outfoxed bin Laden?
by James Henry

New York
TNA News with Commentary
Thursday 27 September 2001

The terrorist atrocities inflicted on the US have give rise to a new rumor
mill that grinds out stories that range from the banal to the bizarre. But
a story out of the Middle East has more credibility than most, particularly
in certain quarters. Some cooler and more intelligent heads in the Arab
world have concluded that Bush has outfoxed the fanatical bin Laden.

Like all fanatics bin Laden is narrowly on his mission while being
disconnected from the real world. Far from being the educated man he is
said to be he, like his suicide-bombers, is remarkable ignorant of the
West, specially the US. Although some of his followers have been educated
at Western Universities their education has been confined to technical
subjects like engineering. Those, for example, who attended US universities
learnt nothing of US history or cultural values, confusing topless bars,
which some of them enjoyed, with moral decay and lack of will. The sad fact
is that what little they knew of US history and policies came entirely from
the country's anti-American left, which has painted a grossly dishonest
picture of America that neatly fitted in with these terrorists'
anti-American dogma thus blinding them further to the political and
military consequences of their actions.

As our editor pointed out at a recent seminar in Australia, being narrowly
focused to the exclusion of all else is part of the terrorists' Achilles
heel. And so it is with bin Laden. Believing himself to be the hand of God
and a follower of the one true faith, or his fanatical version of it, means
he operates with an open loop. Therefore there is no negative feedback
mechanism to correct his distorted picture of the world. There are no
advisers to council restraint or retreat because like Hitler, Stalin, Mao,
etc., he literally believes himself to be the only one capable of
interpreting events and predicting their consequences.

Now we have bin Laden's fundamental weakness. Being truly ignorant of
American history and knowing nothing of the country's political system he
has made the mistake of drawing the wrong lesson from a narrow range of
fairly recent events by interpreting it in terms of his world view: the
refusal of George Bush senior's to finish off Saddam Hussein, the hasty
retreat from Somalia, the successful bombing of US embassies and military
bases in Saudi Arabia, the attack on the Cole and Clinton's self-serving
pinprick responses to terrorism.

In bin Laden's fantasy America would either respond in a Clintonesque way
and so demonstrate to the world its cowardly nature or it would blindly
strike out, killing hundreds if not thousands of innocents and so inflame
the whole of the Islamic world. (Notice how closely his apocalyptic vision
resembles the extreme left's one of a world-wide revolution against

He got neither. Instead of grabbing the initiative he made a terrible
blunder. His actions pulled the US together, awakening in it a steely
resolve that can have only one outcome. Instead of retreating or
immediately striking out, President Bush set about building up a mighty
military force not only to destroy bin Laden but to demonstrate to the rest
of the world the consequences of attacking America. Afghanistan has been
isolated, it's borders sealed.

Battle lines have been drawn and are being supported with varying degrees
of enthusiasm. Russia, Tajikstan. Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, even Iran,
Pakistan and China are cooperating. British special forces (SAS) are
already operating in the country while American special forces are moving
in. A coordinated plan consisting of concentrated air attacks on terrorist
camps and Taliban installations, special forces assault teams, and the
cooperation of the Northern Alliance is being put into action. None of
this, so the story goes, is supposed to be happening.

Moreover, there are rumors that the scale of the forces that bin Laden has
unleashed has caused subterranean cracks to appear within the Taliban's
ranks, with some of them wondering why they should have to take the fall
for bin Laden. The smarter ones know they are not popular among the mass of
Afghans, and that if properly equipped and supported by Western powers the
Northern Alliance would drive them back to their mountain villages - that
is if the locals don't hang them from cranes and artillery barrels first.

Afghan refugees are relating tales of an increasing number of Taliban acts
of banditry and rape as order collapses in the towns and cities. The
wholesale kidnapping of non-Pashtun males aged between 15 and 30 for
'military' service smells of panic because the Taliban knows these males
belong to hostile ethnic minorities. These are not the actions of men who
believe in their own invincibility.

So to some Arab observers Bush has already won. But surely if bin Laden is
killed other bin Laden's will arise. There is only one bin Laden, thank
God. This latter-day Mahdi is just another religious millenarian who
promises paradise by driving out the infidel, the cause of the faithful's
misery. Such people have been a curse throughout history.

I'm not saying that terrorism will end with bin Laden, only that his head
must be the first to roll if victory is to be achieved. Once this is done,
the invisible war against terrorism will accelerate, from the freezing of
bank accounts to the assassination of terrorist organizers and the smashing
of their networks.

The strategy, as explained to me, is basically simple. Make an example of
bin Laden, demonstrate overwhelming military power and the will to use it
against states that harbor and train terrorists; isolate the terrorists
physically and squeeze them psychologically. The ultimate aim is the
elimination of state-sponsored terrorism.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah@ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'