Agam's Gecko
Thursday, March 23, 2006

n a telephone interview with radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt last week, Christopher Hitchens was reflecting on the spectacle of the Milosevic triumphal return to Serbia in his coffin, having cheated the slow grinding wheels of international justice, skipping the verdict phase and apparently moving directly on to Serbian national icon and hero status. Apparently, that is, judging from the masses struggling to kiss the coffin. I thought it was a pretty bizarre display, as I watched the video feed from here as well. Well worth a few minutes time is Hitchens' own post-mortem on this criminal.

But what caught my ear when listening to the radio interview (audio file and transcript at the link), was an excellent side point he made regarding an allegedly inept president's alleged uselessness at capturing the allegedly "tallest man in Afghanistan" (as articulated by Senator Hillary, if I recall). The point is usually number two on the hit parade of reasons why the Bush gang are the worst people in the history of the universe. #1: They lied about the WMD. #2: Can't even catch bin Laden.

Hitchens was telling Hewitt about the status of the former Yugoslav states as far as entry into the European Union goes. Slovenia is a shoe-in, Croatia will be after they give up some wanted war criminals. But,
The Serbs can't yet qualify, because they haven't surrendered their two most wanted guys, Generals Karadzic and Mladic, who were the people responsible for the mass murder in Bosnia. People laugh that we can't find bin Laden in some remote part of the Pakistan border, but European NATO cannot find the two most wanted war criminals right on its own soil.
Now of course, Karadzic and Mladic may not be as tall as Osama, but there's twice as many of them. The two war criminals have been walking free, and frequently seen in the area enjoying the company of their sympathisers.

But that's not all -- Hitchens says that their sympathisers are not only found within the local Serbs. Someone has been protecting them. Hmm, a European country not averse to helping tyrants and their henchmen... who could it be? So many to choose from: Russia, Germany, France were all prominent defenders of Saddam's regime (with UN corruption as incentive). He didn't elaborate on his evidence, but Hitchens is not known for making up stuff like this. He says it was the French.
I'm a great Francophile myself, but I have to say, their politics lately have stunk really badly. And this is one case where we are morally certain that at one point, Mladic certainly was about to be caught, and he was tipped off by a French general.
But back to the alleged inablility to catch Osama. What if we don't actually want to catch him? What if catching him would actually be a strategic misstep in the greater scheme of things? I'd never considered such a possibility until reading one of Jeff Goldstein's commenters on protein wisdom. This writer's analyses were so intriguing that Jeff brought them out onto his front page for some further discussion. Is it possible that, rather than having no plan and no idea at all, as conventional popular wisdom maintains, that BushCo actually has a strategy so clever and nuanced that nobody has even figured it out yet?

Not wanting to catch Osama may not make much sense to a western mindset, but the Islamists are operating from a different set of values. As Jeff's reader, Ric Locke writes:
What Bush and his advisors are trying to do is change the game. We don’t want to kill Osama; we don’t even really want to catch him. We want to discredit him, to establish him as impotent, unable to hurt us in any way that matters. So we don’t chase him except in a casual way, as part of other operations. We certainly don’t go clanking through the mountains in division array, blowing dust, HE, and dieselrauch in a futile chase for one sick man, with the onlookers laughing behind their hands and pointing in random directions. “He went thattaway, effendi. [fx::sub voce]

I don’t want Osama bin Laden dead. I want him to live forever (so he doesn’t get the white grapes, let alone the virgins), with every moment of that long life spent railing at the frustration of his aims. I don’t even want him caught, and I sure as Hell don’t want half of Afghanistan and all of Persia giving us lies and laughing when we take them seriously. I want Osama free, hale, and useless, and aware of it every waking moment.
There may be much more at play than meets the eye -- something that perhaps we caught a brief glimpse in Bush's evident support for the Dubai owned company recently. That sure looked like there must have been more to it than simply a few terminal management contracts. It was almost certainly part of something bigger, and yet unseen.

Read Jeff's thought provoking piece here.

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