[Marxism] Robert Fisk on Bin Laden tape

Emerson Tung emerson.tung at gmail.com
Sat Jan 21 18:44:36 MST 2006

Osama bin Laden: Is it him? Almost certainly.

By Robert Fisk
20 January 2006

So why only on audio? Why no video tape? Is he sick? Yes, say the
usual American "intelligence sources". It's the same old story: Osama
bin Laden talks to us from the mouth of a cave, from within a cave,
from a basement perhaps, from a tape almost certainly recorded down a
telephone line from far away. Yesterday's message, broadcast as ever
by al-Jazeera television, was a reminder that security - not sickness
- decides his method of communication.

We invaded Afghanistan to find Bin Laden and we fight and die in Iraq
to kill his supporters - yet still he eludes us, still he threatens
us, still he taunts us.

How much longer can this nonsense go on? President Jacques Chirac
warns that France - of all countries - might use nuclear weapons, if
attacked. On whom, I wonder? America blows Pakistani children to
pieces and claims it has killed five wanted men, including a
bomb-maker. But there's absolutely no evidence. Bin Laden says that
America will be attacked again unless it accepts a truce in the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan. Weren't we supposed to be winning the "war on
terror"? Oh no, the "experts" tell us, Bin Laden and al-Qa'ida are
losing, that's why they want a truce. Some hope.

It's a game. Bin Laden has no intention of calling an end to his own
war and nor has George Bush and nor has Tony Blair. The Bin Laden
offer, almost certainly, is intended to be rejected. He wants Bush and
Blair to refuse it. Then, after the next attack, will come the next
audio tape. See what happens when you reject our ceasefire? We warned
you. And we'll ask: is it him? So why no video tape? Never before in
history have so many wanted men sent pictures and messages and video
tapes out of the dark.

The irony, of course, is that Bin Laden is now partly irrelevant. He
has created al-Qa'ida. His achievement - that word should be seen in
context - is complete. Why bother hunting for him now? It's a bit like
arresting the world's nuclear scientists after the invention of the
atom bomb. The monster has been born. It's al-Qa'ida we have to deal

So we are told that America's security hasn't prevented an attack,
that " operations" take time to prepare. "It is better not to fight
the Muslims on their land," Bin Laden says. "We'd not mind offering
you a truce that is fair in the long term ... so we can build Iraq and
Afghanistan," he says. Forget for a moment the deep cynicism behind
this message - deconstructing the Shia of Iraq seems to be one of the
Iraqi insurgents' aims - it also reveals one of Bin Laden's old
themes: the idea that these wars will bankrupt the United States.

"There is no shame in this solution because it prevents the wasting of
billions of dollars ... to the merchants of war." These are almost the
same words Bin Laden used to me when we last met. "The Americans will
be bankrupted," he said, not realising that war primes the pumps of a
superpower economy.

It is as if both "sides" in this conflict live on illusions. Mssrs
Bush and Blair keep telling us things in Iraq are getting better, when
we all know that they are getting worse. Anarchy has seized that
entire country. American bodies coming home to the United States? Just
don't let the press take photographs of the coffins. Bombs in London?
Nothing to do with Iraq, Blair haplessly told us last July.

Now there's a website in Spanish about Iraq on the White House
screens. Why? Because the Spaniards are interested in the war their
army has left? Or because so many of the American soldiers dying in
Iraq are Hispanics? And now we have Paul Bremer, America's equally
hapless former pro-consul in Baghdad, telling us that those same
Spanish troops contributed to the uprising in Najaf because they
weren't performing their tasks in Iraq. More nonsense. What started
the uprising was Bremer's own anger at an attack on him in a tiny Shia
Muslim newspaper which he ordered to be closed (in an announcement of
execrable Arabic). It was this which prompted Muqtada al-Sadr to fight
the Americans.

And so we go on. Blame foreign fighters - even if 158,000 of them in
Iraq happen to be wearing American uniforms - blame Syria, blame Iran.
And blame Spain of course. Blame anyone who is not "with us".

In truth, it will need Iran and Syria to help get the US and Britain
out of this shameful adventure. Yet what do we do? Raise the stakes on
Iran by claiming that it intends to make nuclear weapons. And why
Iran? Why not that infinitely more unstable Islamic state called
Pakistan whichhas nuclear weapons? Because its dictator, President
General Musharraf is on "our side". Why not attack North Korea, whose
leader is more unstable than any Iranian cleric? Because he also has
nuclear weapons.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban are slowly returning. Outside Kabul every
woman wears a burqa. Weren't they supposed to have taken them off?
Weren't women now "free" in Afghanistan? US troops are being killed at
an increasing rate there. Weren't they supposed to have won? Now
Canada has split its troops and sent a battalion to Kandahar to fight
the Taliban and al-Qa'ida. What are the Canadians now doing in combat
operations? What risks does this now pose for the Canadian nation
which kept out of Iraq?

It was only a few months ago that Bin Laden was bombarding us with
explanations for his movement's attacks. Why did no one ask, he said,
why Sweden was not assaulted? And so, I suppose, we can indeed fear
more attacks on the United States, more bombing raids, further
chapters in the "war on terror".

And all the time we in the West fail to look for a way to end this
"war" . How about some justice in the Middle East? How about lifting
the blanket of injustice that has lain across the region for so many
decades? Muslims there will probably like some of the democracy we say
we're trying to export to them. They would also like human rights off
our Western supermarket shelves.

But they would also like another kind of freedom - freedom from us.
And this, it seems, we are not going to give them. So the war goes on.
Stand by for more audio tapes, and more threats, and more death.

The text of Osama bin Laden's message

The text of excerpts from the Bin Laden tape

My message to you is about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how to
end them... Our situation, thank God, is only getting better and
better, while your situation is the opposite.

But I plan to speak about the repeated errors your President Bush has
committed in comments on the results of your polls that show that an
overwhelming majority of you want the withdrawal of American troops
from Iraq. But he [Bush] has opposed this wish and said that
withdrawing troops sends the wrong message to opponents, that it is
better to fight them [Bin Laden's followers] on their land than them
fighting us [Americans] on our land. I can reply to these errors by
saying that war in Iraq is raging with no let-up, and operations in
Afghanistan are escalating in our favour, thank God, and Pentagon
figures show the number of your dead and wounded is increasing not to
mention the massive material losses...

The reality shows that war against America and its allies has not been
limited to Iraq as he [Bush] claims ... The proof of that is the
explosions you have seen in the capitals of the European nations who
are in this aggressive coalition. The delay in similar operations
happening in America has not been because of failure to break through
your security measures. The operations are under preparation and you
will see them in your homes the minute they are through [with

We don't mind offering you a long-term truce on fair conditions that
we adhere to. We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat.
So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we
can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war.
There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of
billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and
merchants of war in America who have supported Bush's election
campaign with billions of dollars.


The Independent's celebrated Middle East Correspondent talks about his
life in the war zone on 23 January, from 6.30 to 8pm at Manchester
Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester.

A limited number of tickets are still available. If you would like
tickets, please e-mail debate@ independent.co.uk with your full name,
address, daytime telephone number and number of tickets required.
Ticket-only event. Subject to availability.

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