This just in from MiniPax: Immanuel Goldstein is dead! Goldstein was tracked to his lair in Pakistan, where he was living under the alias “Osama Bin Laden,” and died in a firefight with Oceania’s crack special forces troops, who had infiltrated Pakistan without its government’s permission to carry out the raid and assassination.
With Goldstein/Bin Laden gone, who will now be the focus of our “two minute hates”? It’s a dirty job, as they say, but somebody will have to do it, even if we have to create them out whole cloth.
And now we will never know to what extent the “Osama Bin Laden” we have been encouraged to hate and fear was, like Emmanuel Goldstein, a creation of our own “Ministry of Peace.” After all, Bin Laden did start out as a hero, even portrayed (in a manner of speaking) as an American in Idrees Shah’s thrilling 1986 novel Kara Kush, which describes how, with American help, the Taliban rallied the people of Afghanistan to push out the Soviet invaders and crush corrupt Afghan warlords.
Times change, don’t they? Now the US is the invader in Afghanistan, and such corrupt warlords as remain there are our friends and allies in our attempt to crush the Taliban, who have been concealing Osama Bin Laden. Remember? The U.S. invaded Afghanistan to find Bin Laden? Or has that gone down the Ministry of Truth’s memory hole along with so much of the rest of recent history?
So, now that we’ve found, and killed, bin Laden, will Obama wind down the war against Osama? Or, in true 1984 fashion, will our “war on terror” prove to be an “endless war,” with new attacks and demons arising to replace the enemies we have killed and the acts we have avenged?
With Bin Laden conveniently dead, there are many questions that conveniently will never be answered, especially since U.S. troops had free run of his headquarters and were able to preserve–or destroy–what they found there, as they saw fit. Likewise, what they found will be released at the discretion of the Ministry of Truth, and so we can only assume that there is much we will never know.
Here’s a few of the things we will probably never know:
Was the “Reichstag Fire” element of the attack on the World Trade Center really a coincidence? The attacks came at a point when the Bush administration’s incompetence was about to make it the laughingstock of America, and the world. Suddenly, it was all Americans’ patriotic duty to take the Cheney/Bush junta seriously. The attack, if Bin Laden had anything to do with it, saved Cheneybush’s ass, ensured the passage of the Patriot Act, and gave us a sinister, dark-skinned, sneaky adversary to unite against. Did the junta know of the plot and allow it to proceed? Did they foment it? Did they carry it out, with no help from the alleged perpetrators at all? Bin Laden will never tell us.
After we spent all those years looking for him in Afghanistan, what was he doing in Pakistan, in a well-appointed villa, not a cave in the hills, and just a few miles from a major Pakistani military base? Did they know he was there all along? After all, “the search for Bin Laden” was a bit of a cash cow for the Pakis, and no doubt they, who know poverty far better than most Americans do so far, wanted to milk that (and their Uncle Sam) for all it was worth.
Was Bin Laden really “killed in a firefight” or was he executed? (Since writing this, our government has admitted that he was unarmed when he was killed.) Given the changes and uncertainties of his relationship with the U.S. government, Bin Laden’s side of the story might be quite different from our government’s version. Making sure he’s dead is a good way to avoid embarrassment. To bring up another example, the U.S. invaded Iraq because, Cheneybush said, they had “weapons of mass destruction.” After all, the U.S. had shipped them over there in the 80’s to help Iraq fight Iran–Saddam and Rumsfeld were buddies, remember?–how were we to know he’d actually used most of them against the Iranians as promised, and then dropped the rest on the Kurds? Better to take the guy into custody and hang him than to exile or imprison him and give him the chance to write a tell-all memoir. And since that trial and execution were kinda messy, just make sure Bin Laden is dead from the get-go, OK?
Finally,did this really happen? There is no independent verification. The body was “buried at sea.” A government that has asked us to believe everything from Pat Tillman‘s heroic death at the hands of the Taliban to the guilt of everybody in Guantanamo (not to mention Bradley Manning) without the necessity of a trial, just to cite the most recent, glaring few incidents, going all the way back to the Gulf of Tonkin “attack,” and beyond, now wants us to believe they killed Osama Bin Laden and disposed of his body, trust them. Uh-huh.
Bin Laden has been widely reviled as a man with “the blood of thousands of innocents on his hands.” Those who trumpet this viewpoint generally ignore the fact that the U.S. government, in avenging the deaths of thousands, has caused the deaths of millions of innocent Iraqi civilians and thousands of innocent Afghan citizens. When will the Navy’s “Seals” drop in on Bush’s Texas compound and Chaney’s undisclosed location and exact frontier justice? And why have we singled out Bin Laden and Muamar Qadhafi for rough treatment while we ignore the national tragedies taking place in North Korea, Burma, Saudi Arabia, and Central Asia, and encourage the repression of democracy advocates in Bahrain, for just one example?
Emmanuel Goldstein–I mean, Osama Bin Laden, is dead, we are told. His was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it, and somebody will step–or be forced–into his shoes, one way or another. How else can we continue to have our beloved two-minute hates?
music: Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”