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Ten Reasons to Ignore bin Laden

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Ten Reasons to Ignore bin Laden:

Restoring the Balance

by Dr. Wm. J. Olson

Download the full article: Ten Reasons to Ignore bin Laden

What to do about bin Ladin? Ever since 9/11 that has been the central question in US policy to combat international terrorism. The events of 9/11 defined a presidency, became the motivation for the policies and actions of a superpower, and have remained a key component in an internal American debate over the best policies and strategies for understanding and responding to the world and US responsibilities in it. Exactly what is best to do and why? The major contention in what follows is offered more as a proposition than as a conclusion. It is a thought piece not a policy statement, in part because we have not thought enough about what we are doing, why or whether we should be doing it, and have rushed forward with policies and actions.

The main point is to argue that the focus on bin Ladin, on his organization, and on the role of Islam in their actions misses the point of the exercise as they misinterpret the world we now commonly inhabit. The proper focus is not what to do about bin Ladin but what American purpose is in a world where people like bin Ladin are possible. Viewed solely from the perspective of a bin Ladin, or any aspirants to his mantle, he is the most spectacularly successful terrorist in history. Not because of any individual acts, which have been heinous, but in their ability to mesmerize the world and to become the centerpiece of the purposes, policies, and actions of a superpower. The argument here is that this is not what the situation merits and is not what we should be about. It is not an argument for doing nothing but for reassessing the reasons for what we are doing or need to be doing. As a proposition, it does not offer final answers but a point of view. The United States has lost the art of strategic thinking and is locked in cycles of operational and tactical responses dressed up as strategy. The real struggle is about ideas not techniques. A change is needed.

One of the main elements in current US thinking on how to deal with the threat from bin Ladin and al-Qa'ida is the need to respond to the ideological support to terrorism derived from their efforts to coax the Islamic world into action. The idea behind combating the ideological support to terrorism is that bin Ladin & Associates are propagating an ideology, based on Islam, that is the source of their ability to recruit fighters among the world's Muslims and that this effort must and can be countered in a fashion parallel to how the United States countered Marxism, an ideology, and defeated the Soviet Union. It is, after all, a war of ideas and so we must engage on this battlefield as well. But, which war of ideas? What ideas are waging war and what ideas need to be countered? Supported? With what means?

Download the full article: Ten Reasons to Ignore bin Laden

William J. Olson is a professor at the Near East and South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. Recently, he was the President and CEO of Olson & Associates, a diversified consultancy providing a variety of services to corporate, government, and private sector clients. Most recently, he was the Chief of the Information Management Unit in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Baghdad, Iraq. He was formerly the Staff Director for the US Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

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Wargames Mark

Fri, 05/28/2010 - 6:32pm

There is no "American purpose" to determine. The government has a responsibility to provide for a national defense. Just do that. Al-Qaida is an enemy of the United States. They have attacked us on multiple occasions. Defeat them. If bin Laden is alive, then that includes capturing/killing him.

Yes, there are other threats out there besides bin Laden. I think most people know that already. Those threats should be smashed as well.

Again, there is no "American purpose" to determine. Americans are not here on a national mission. To quote P.J. O'Rourke, "America wasn't founded so that we could all be better. America was founded so we could all be anything we damn well please." The job of the military and intelligence community is to keep groups like al-Qaida from getting in the way.

blert (not verified)

Mon, 05/24/2010 - 9:16pm

Since OBL is dead, and has been for years, going after him is a 'snipe hunt.'

It does America no official good to point this out.

True proof would expose methods and means.

There is no upside.

Like Kennedy's 'missile gap' it does make for a great talking point. It's been fifty-years and we now know that the USSR had all of ONE active ICBM that took a full day to prep in 1960! At the same time we had squadrons of Atlas missiles in coffin storage able to shoot within one-hour!
Obviously, we also could fly to their missile base and destroy it before they could launch!

To stop islamist attacks in the West we must kick out ALL of the muslims studying in the West.

The TRUE production line of hatred is the wahhabist funded institutions in the West. Their front line operatives are ALWAYS college educated.