May 16, 2011
There were demonstrations of joy in Washington after Obama announced the execution of bin Laden.
Bin Laden was scum and there is no reason to shed tears over his death. Certainly the attacks of 2001 were obscene. Even if the World Trade Center might seem to be a symbol of American imperialism, the nearly three thousand people who died in this attack had nothing to do with imperialist policy.
But there is no reason to rejoice when you look at this whole history.
Bin Laden was spawned by American imperialism itself. And the details of his life show that. He was a son of a rich bourgeois family with connections to Saudi royalty. He began his terrorist activity, paid by the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services, and directed by them. At that point, during the 1980s, Afghanistan was occupied by the Soviet army. To counter the influence of the USSR, the U.S. went all out to support and to arm fundamentalist guerrillas. The U.S. used Al Qaeda against the Soviet Union and the Afghan government it supported – just like it later used the Taliban to reimpose order on Afghanistan.
The imperialist powers are used to this kind of game, even when the Soviet Union is not on the scene. Their domination of the world raises so much indignation, anger and hatred that all their armies together are not sufficient to contain the explosions that result. They supplement their own violence with local reactionary forces they manipulate, and they set one people against another. The looting of the planet by a few dozen large capitalist corporations is perpetuated at this high human cost.
But sometimes watchdogs become rabid and bite their own masters. That’s what happened to the state of Israel, which had once manipulated Hamas to reduce the influence of Arafat. That’s what happened to the United States with bin Laden. After creating a perfect killing machine, the U.S. ruling class had to watch it operate with terrible efficiency in the heart of U.S. power.
The leaders of the imperialist world may rejoice and loudly announce that one terrorist is dead. But terrorism is not dead, because imperialism is creating new people so angry that they bring terrorism to life over and over again.
Pakistan may be an ally of the United States, but bin Laden hid in a villa near Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, not in some caves in the mountains. He could get away with it for so long because he benefitted from Pakistani accomplices, starting with the Pakistan secret services as well as in the population.
Bin Laden was certainly scum, who had the same contempt for humanity that the leaders of the imperialist world show every day when their bombs fall indiscriminately on the population in poor countries. Looking for men desperate enough to blow themselves up, bin Laden found his candidates in the huge pool of physical and moral misery produced by the domination by imperialism over the poor Muslim countries.
Despite their euphoria, the political leaders of imperialism fear a wave of attacks in vengeance. While bin Laden is hated, and rightfully so, by the U.S. population, in other parts of the world even his worst actions are seen as acts of vengeance against the Western powers that have plundered, exploited and humiliated so many millions.
Those poor masses who felt their own humiliation vindicated by the acts and speeches of this rich, reactionary son of a bourgeois family are wrong, of course. Those who practice indiscriminate terrorism in the name of reactionary ideas can only bring forth fiercely oppressive regimes weighing on the exploited. For the poor, a supreme avenger exists no more than does a supreme savior.
The emancipation of the workers from the shackles of a society where money, exploitation and imperialism reign will be the work of the workers themselves. That is as true for the disinherited masses in the poor countries as it is for the exploited in the heart of imperialism.