News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Time to Talk to bin-Laden?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Time to Talk to bin-Laden?

The war or Terror enters its fifth year. Osama bin-Laden hides out somewhere in Pakistan. The US military is always "moving in on" bin-Laden and his cohorts, but they never seem to corner the man. The idea of always being on the verge of victory reminds one of the war in George Orwell's book, 1984. The ruling power is always on the verge of victory. yet as the book closes, the war is still going--after numerous propaganda obfuscations and manipulations of "the truth"--and the country in which the protagonist lives has changed allies numerous times.

Is it time to talk to bin-Laden? Perhaps take seriously his grievances against the west and recognize that while we not condone his methods, we recognize that there might be some truth to his and his group's message? What would the US lose by doing so? Certainly, in the present circumstances, it cannot lose more prestige than it already has in the world by unilaterally going to war under the pretense of lies about WMDs and decpetion regarding Hussein's ties to the terrorists who bombed the Word Trade Center.

So what does the US have to lose by talking with bin-Laden?

Time to Talk to Al Qaeda?
by Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou

AS THE WAR between the United States and Al Qaeda enters its fifth year, the nature of the armed, transnational Islamist group's campaign remains misunderstood. With the conflict viewed largely as an open-and-shut matter of good versus evil, nonmilitary engagement with Al Qaeda is depicted as improper and unnecessary.

Yet developing a strategy for the next phase of the global response to Al Qaeda requires understanding the enemy -- something Western analysts have systematically failed to do. Sept. 11 was not an unprovoked, gratuitous act. It was a military operation researched and planned since at least 1996 and conducted by a trained commando in the context of a war that had twice been declared officially and publicly. The operation targeted two military locations and a civilian facility regarded as the symbol of US economic and financial power. The assault was the culmination of a larger campaign, which forecast impact, planned for the enemy's reaction, and was designed to gain the tactical upper hand.

Overwhelmingly centered on the martial aspects of the conflict, scholars and policymakers have been too focused on Al Qaeda's ''irrationality," ''fundamentalism," and ''hatred" -- and these conceptions continue to color key analyses. The sway of such explanations is particularly surprising in the face of nonambiguous statements made by Al Qaeda as to the main reasons for its war on the United States. These have been offered consistently since 1996, notably in the August 1996 and February 1998 declarations of war and the November 2002 and October 2004 justifications for its continuation.
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