Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bin Laden Truce Offer

Every now and then I end up agreeing with the Bush administration. And at least to a degree, this is one of those times.

Osama bin Laden sent a tape offering a 'long-term truce.'

The Bush administration, after confirming that it was indeed bin Laden on the tape, rejected the offer.

Now, unless bin Laden is completely delusional, he must have known that this would be the answer. So either he is desperate (I hope that is the case, but probably not, given our failures to date, and the diversion of American resources into Iraq which could be used looking for him) or he thinks that by making a tape like this he can divide the American people.

If so, then he is wrong about that. I believe that the Bush administration made a stupid and completely wrongheaded move into Iraq, but that has nothing to do with the fight against Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden is still the man who has repeatedly attacked America, and who has killed thousands, both Americans and those who simply got in his way. Allowing him to move about freely while rebuilding his organization is absurd in itself (even without the added benefit he would gain just by virtue of his survival of being able to claim that he 'defeated' us which he could then use to stir up even more unrest throughout the region). The President was absolutely right to reject this offer. My only complaint on this topic with the President is that he hasn't done enough to take out Mr. bin Laden, instead focusing on Iraq. But as far as the need to catch and either kill or capture Osama bin Laden, there is no disagreement with that here. I hope that whatever else the President achieves (and thus far, little if any of it has been good) he does leave with Osama bin Laden neutralized as a threat. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by accepting his offer. The only way such an offer could even remotely be entertained is if he agreed to renounce publically everything he has devoted his life to, and lived by that renunciation, and I doubt if we will ever have to consider whether to accept it in that kind of context.

So let me say it here:

I fully support President Bush in his quest to kill or capture Osama bin Laden.

Now, that is not to say that there aren't other things we can and should be doing to address the situation we now find ourselves in involving Mr. bin Laden.

Let me draw an analogy. Our foreign policy in the middle east, in particular, propping up unpopular monarchies that plunder their countries' wealth and oppress their people, and which we do because we need the oil, is like a lifestyle, which has produced the cancer of Osama bin Laden and his followers.

Now, President Bush has said that we need to get rid of them. And he is absolutely right about that, we should aggressively treat the cancer until it has been eradicated. If he has not done so vigorously enough, instead choosing to concentrate on what amounts to muscle enhancement instead (i.e. Iraq) then I only urge that he get re-focused on the task at hand, beating the cancer.*

What the President has not done, is address the underlying causes of why we are having to contend with the likes of Osama bin Laden. It is as if someone who was fighting cancer continued smoking three packs a day, eating the same poor diet they had before, and other risky behavior. Sooner or later, they would be likely to have more cancers, even if they were successful at treating that one.

What the other part of this equation is, is that we need to 1. conserve oil and develop more fuel efficient vehicles to be able to cut middle eastern oil out of the picture, 2. quit propping up monarchies like the Saudi and Kuwaiti royal families and let the people there make their own decisions about what to do about them, and 3. work at least behind the scenes with reformists and Democratic leaders in those countries (but absolutely never with Osama bin Laden-- the only right we should be willing to grant him, is the right to hire a defense attorney, should he be fortunate enough to live to see the day when he needs one.)

*--and before anyone suggests that Iraq is a part of this fight, I'd like to point out that al-Qaeda's only foothold in prewar Iraq was an enclave way behind Kurdish lines, nowhere near anyplace that Saddam had any control over; and if we left Iraq, then it would be Zarqawi and the other terrorists who have come there to kill our troops, who would then be seen as the foreign invaders and would be opposed by the local populace.


Anonymous said...

Concerning Iraq and OBL...I think you need to say "as far as we know now." Because there could (and I believe there are) classified documents that directly link Saddam and OBL. No one can say there are and no one can say there are not. Yet.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. OK.
I get the gist of your post, Eli, and agree but consider some of the other statements later on about the war and the approval of this president. I think we have to be clear that we are talking about two different things here. Both Bush and OBL want to link things that bolster their positions.

Eli Blake said...


We have had three years of being able to examine any evidence we wanted to in Iraq, as well as depose almost the entire 'deck of cards,' as well as a number of senior al-Qaeda leaders. And the closest link they could find was a 'confession' made by a guy who lied just to get out of an Egyptian interrogation chamber.

It's like WMD. We've looked and we've looked and we've looked, and it ain't there.

Eli Blake said...


You know I don't support Bush in general, and in Iraq in particular. But he is the President, the President has a duty to protect our country, and Osama has proven that he is willing to attack us.

I may wish we had a different President leading the fight against OBL, and I may believe that a different President (i.e. Al Gore, who would have stayed focused on the task at hand and not gotten us sucked into Iraq) might have done a better job and gotten him by now, but Bush is the only President we have right now. And when it comes to fighting OBL (who is clearly our enemy) then we have no choice except to hope that Bush wins that fight, and support him in carrying it out.

Put it this way: If you were in his shoes, and got this offer from OBL, what would you do? Because you know darn well that if you accepted it, OBL would not stop carrying out terror attacks, he would just use the truce to build his organization up to where it was, or maybe even bigger, and then surprise us again.

I don't see as how the President has any choice except to reject the offer, and I'm not going to criticize him for doing the right thing. I just wish he did the right thing more often.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that OBL and Saddam detested each other and no proof has ever been provided to the contrary. I will never understand why we stopped looking for OBL and instead illegally attacked a country that had NOTHING to do with 9-11.

Saddam was contained and OBL was not.

I am pretty sure that there is a definite connection with OBL and the Saudi royals ... the very same Saudi royals that have had quite a very healthy relationship with the bUSH family, for decades.

Also, (wearing my tin hat), given that so much of the past intelligence gathering and passing it along has been exceedingly flawed, I kind of even doubt that the tapes are really of OBL. And I've noticed the MSM hasn't ever again showed that OBL tape that was shown just prior to the presidential vote. And I don't really believe it was OBL!

"I don't really think about him ... I'm not really concerned about him" GWB 3/13/2003

(Note to self: buy more aluminum foil. Heavy duty, this time.)

EAPrez said...

OBL is one man. The line being fed to us is that we are spending billions and billions of dollars in pursuit of this one man and once caught we will be safe. In my mind the lives lost, the money spent has not been worth the cost. OBL is just the face of a much bigger problem. You used the word cancer - when cancer is treated they don't just cut out the canerous part and send you on your way. Even if they believe they got it all they still treat the body with chemo or radiation to eradicate any lingering cancer cells. That's the way we must approach this. We can't kill everyone on the planet who hates the U.S. What we have to do is become good citizens of the planet and seek ways to elevate the lives of those around the world. Our country has a long and dark history of supporting regimes that oppress their citizens in order to protect American interests - American BUSINESS interests. That's why the idea of us invading Iraq to help free the Iraqi citizens from the oppressive Sadam regime is laughable. That was the pretty picture our government tried to paint - we (U.S. government and U.S. Businesses) don't care one bit about the Iraqi's. Until it is acknowledged that we are hated for the policies of our government and not because we have freedom - this will be a 'terminal' problem.