Death of a Madman
By CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS - SLATE
Added: Tue, 03 May 2011 08:28:44 UTC
Anyone tempted to see Osama bin Laden as some kind of romantic guerilla leader, charging over the mountains on a white horse, should read the concluding paragraphs of Christopher Hitchens's reaction to his death:
Ten years ago, I remind you, he had a gigantic influence in one rogue and failed state—Afghanistan—and was exerting an increasing force over its Pakistani neighbor. Taliban and al-Qaida sympathizers were in senior positions in the Pakistani army and nuclear program and had not yet been detected as such. Huge financial subventions flowed his way, often through official channels, from Saudi Arabia and other gulf states. As well as running a nihilist international, he was the head of a giant and profitable network of banking and money-laundering. He could order heavy artillery wheeled up to destroy the Buddhist treasures of Afghanistan in broad daylight. A nexus of madrassas was spreading the word from Indonesia to London, just as a nexus of camps was schooling future murderers.
And he decided to gamble all these ripening strategic advantages in a single day. Then, not only did he run away from Afghanistan, leaving his deluded followers to be killed in very large numbers, but he chose to remain a furtive and shady figure, on whom the odds of a successful covert "hit," or bought-and-paid-for betrayal, were bound to lengthen every day.
It seems thinkable that he truly believed his own mad propaganda, often adumbrated on tapes and videos, especially after the American scuttle from Somalia. The West, he maintained, was rotten with corruption and run by cabals of Jews and homosexuals. It had no will to resist. It had become feminized and cowardly. One devastating psychological blow and the rest of the edifice would gradually follow the Twin Towers in a shower of dust. Well, he and his fellow psychopaths did succeed in killing thousands in North America and Western Europe, but in the past few years, their main military triumphs have been against such targets as Afghan schoolgirls, Shiite Muslim civilians, and defenseless synagogues in Tunisia and Turkey. Has there ever been a more contemptible leader from behind, or a commander who authorized more blanket death sentences on bystanders?
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