Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Costs of Finding Osama

By Billy Wharton, Co-Chair Socialist Party USA

In the play Doctor Faustus, author Christopher Marlowe described Helen of Troy as the “face that launched a thousand ships.”  Marlowe used the phrase to describe the manner in which Helen’s beauty supposedly motivated the Greek armies to attack Troy.

Taking a page from this Elizabethan play, we might describe the now deceased Osama Bin-Laden as “the face that launched a million military budget requests.”  Though civilians throughout the world were left to deal with the consequences, the figure of Osama was always a useful one for the American Empire.  This was just as true when he received direct financial and military aid from the US in the 1980s as when he was presented as an arch nemesis used to justify the escalating military adventures of the 21st century.  No surprise then, if his death yields more benefits for the military industrial complex and even greater hazards to peace loving people everywhere.

While Communism was still being presented as the great global enemy, as the rationale for maintaining a bloated military industrial complex in the 80s, Osama Bin-Laden proved a useful ally.  His brand of Islamic fundamentalism received support and funding from the US government, despite the deeply reactionary politics it carried with it.  In Afghanistan Bin-Laden was able to establish an international movement trained in the tactics of guerrilla warfare and imbued with a backwards looking philosophy of Islamic jihad.  All while being funded by the American taxpayer.

After the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan... (Read on)
Source: Socialist Party USA

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