08 May 2011

Ray McGovern on bin Laden’s killing

In an article entitled What has bin Laden’s Killing Wrought? in the 6-8 May Weekend Edition of the  American political newsletter Counterpunch, Ray McGovern addresses the politics of assassination.

Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 years. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

McGovern’s article commences:

As America's morbid celebrations over the killing of Osama bin Laden begin to fade, we are left with a new landscape of risks – and opportunities – created by his slaying at the hands of a U.S. Special Forces team at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The range of those future prospects could be found in Wednesday's Washington Post. On the hopeful side, a front-page article reported that the Obama administration was following up bin Laden's death with accelerated peace talks in Afghanistan. On a darker note, a Post editorial hailed bin Laden's slaying as a model for "targeting" Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and his sons.

So, while there is the possibility that the United States might finally begin to wind down a near-decade-long war in Afghanistan, there is the countervailing prospect of the United States consolidating an official policy of assassination and violence as the way to impose Washington's will on the Muslim world.

McGovern discusses in turn the issues raised by targeted killings, the problematical situation that emerges from the revised accounts of the assassination (clearly bin Laden was to be killed rather than captured), the dangers that lie ahead for the United States in Pakistan as a result of the killing, and the consequences of the United States passing up the prospects of questioning bin Laden about al-Qaeda in favour of killing him.

He observes that the killing of bin Laden might offer the United States the opportunity to retrace its steps from the “dark side” of the wholesale assault on its own civil liberties, “enhanced interrogation” and pre-emptive war, but concludes:

Only with strong grass roots pressure, including nonviolent civil disobedience when appropriate, will there be any real hope that the demon of "terrorism" periodically resurrected by the politicians can be exorcised. That, in turn, could bring an early end to the squandering of $2 billion a week into the stalemate in Afghanistan; the allocation of those resources to job creation and educational opportunity for tens of millions of Americans; and stanching the alarming erosion of the liberties the Constitution was carefully crafted to guarantee and the President solemnly sworn to enforce.

Read McGovern’s full article here.

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