HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Monday, May 02, 2011


                                                              by Michael Hammerschlag

The successful raid on OBL brings many emotions- the damn Pakistani ISI (and govrnmt?) were protecting him for years, keeping this incredible secret against the 50-65% of Pakis who would have gladly killed him themselves for the many terrorist attacks he carried out in Pakistan. With a large Paki military compound only a km away, that is absolutely amazing- with a $25 million reward out for him? Obama's extraordinary patience in waiting since last August is incredible- given OBL's uncanny evasiveness, but there was another family of doubles reportedly living there; and secretly invading "allies" is dangerous stuff, not the least cause they can, uh, shoot you down.

I think it is too bad he wasn't taken alive, rotting in an American prison forever would evaporate his cultish superman status and reduce him to an ordinary man, and it's the one thing bastards all over the world fear above all. Now he become myth and martyr. [On the other hand, holding him could provoke more grizzly hostage spectacles]. Worse, disposing of him at sea will fuel endless conspiracy theories that he is NOT dead- where is the proof video now? When monsters are killed, they must be displayed- Mussolini, Pol Pot, Escobar, Ceausescu; or people will never really believe or overcome the fear. The fact that Hitler wasn't fueled Nazi groups for decades. OBL wasn't a dummy- I wouldn't be surprised if he created a banked "They say I'm dead, but it's a lie!" video with something current then woven in. Frankly I couldn't care less about honoring Muslim 24hr burial traditions- this wasn't a military leader- but a soft-spoken megalomaniacal killer who targeted innocents because of his twisted notions of Islamic purity. Or we could have kept his head for future reference (displayed on the Mall?). Note a 40 minute firefight for SEALS is a long time- maybe much of that was searching for documents.

I warned 12 days after 9-11 that the cure was part of the problem: 
"...- in fact Pakistan is probably a greater source of terrorism than Afghanistan itself, with 120 training camps for mujahadeen (most for the conflict with India), a huge and uncontrolled criminal element, an unstable government of limited support, a definite radical anti-American element, and most terrifyingly- nuclear weapons. In fact many Taliban themselves were trained and supported by Pakistan; the anti-Taliban Afghans considered them a foreign invasion. Recently assassinated Ahmed Massoud claimed Pakistan sent thousands of Army troops to help the Taliban attack his Northern Alliance."

My connections with 9-11 were many: from supposed to fly over Central Park at 5:30pm on 911, to feeling a huge attack was coming 2 months earlier just from accumulated Palestinian rage, to suffering a direct attack on my airline ticket business, to running into 2 of the hijackers in the Ft. Lauderdale public library 5 months earlier (I believe), to exploring the sealed to press ruins secretly for 2 hours in Dec 2001. If you really want to relive that day, find the incredible French documentary of firefighters shown once in US TV and disappeared, that shows the command center INSIDE the ground floor of WTC2 as WTC1 is hit by the second plane, or the horrific explosions from the roof above as jumpers slammed into it at 150mph.

It's hard to really celebrate- the waste, the destruction, the evaporation of American principles has been so extreme, in the insanely named "War on Terror". If the Repubs hadn't jimmied up Monica in the first of their 3 great treasons (w Bush election theft + Iraq Invasion), I believe Clinton would have sent commandos to wipe out OBL + his training camps in Afghanistan after the 1998 African US Embassy bombings. Bush's election + the Iraq Invasion + maybe 2008 meltdown wouldn't have happened. If only retarded Rummy had sent 2000 Rangers into Tora Bora rather than hew to his smarter faster lighter military theories, Qaida may not have metastasized into the world.

Coupled with the devastating attack on Khaddafi's home, airliners better give Libya a 150 mile berth for a while; but hopefully the death of OBL will coordinately with the Arab Spring, be the death knell of Islamic radicals, who may fade to relative irrelevance. Arab rage was always fueled by their powerlessness against their dictators- now they have worlds to build and promises to keep. As NYT Roger Cohen says: "Bin Laden’s rose-tinged caliphate was the solace of the disenfranchised, the disempowered and the desperate. A young guy with a job, a vote and prospects does not need virgins in paradise". And America can finally retire the somehow un-American  breast-beating victimhood that 9-11 engendered.

If Obama is smart, he would take this chance to ease Patriot Act outrages, stop continuing torture, rescind onerous restrictions on foreign students who go to China instead, and close Guantanamo- screw Congress- he has the power. It's tempting to say this guarantees BO's reelection, but Bush 1 achieved a great victory in the Gulf War at this time in the election cycle, then lost in 1992 due to economic factors. Repub lunatics will keep hacking away at the Other with every tool they can find, and the US/World economy could easily tank again.

But in Bush's vicious manipulation of 911, he let the Islamo-radicals succeed- they provoked Bush into his criminal invasion of Iraq (classic great power reckless overreaction) and bled us of $3 trillion and 50,000 soldiers (inc. wounded); they changed us forever, allowed our fear and paranoia to overcome our good sense, turned Americans into torturers, upending our most cherished beliefs, and the massive security apparatus created will eventually and inevitably be used against us- imagine what a Prez Palin or Trump would do with it. The survival of the American Experiment is not guaranteed, and we still struggle against domestic extremist forces far more dangerous than anything external.
I saw this on unrestricted 460 channel satellite TV, and it's been fascinating flipping through 20 different countries' news channels coverage- the most striking thing is the English versions are 90% identical. Al-Jazeera Intern. is totally professional- and has an excellent documentary on the Egyptian uprising.

Michael Hammerschlag’s  (Hammernews.com)  articles have appeared in the NYT, International Herald Tribune, Seattle Times, Providence Journal; Moscow News, Tribune, + Guardian, Kiev Weekly. He has spent over 5 years reporting from Ukraine and Russia.