Tag Archives: Pakistan
At the time of writing this piece, the international media is predictably saturated with coverage of the official death of the world’s most notorious fugitive, Osama bin Laden. Given that his name is connected with mayhem of an apocalyptic hue, bin Laden’s demise was all the more anti-climactic: like the father in the 1991 Sting composition All This Time - though subsequent to a brisk 40 minute US military operation executed in the city of Abbottabad, an educational hub near the Pakistani capital Islamabad - he was buried at sea.
Over the coming months and years, huge amounts of managed Scandinavian forest will be utilised in analysing this occurrence and its ultimate significance, but here at Mediolana we think we may have already identified the three most salient consequences of the death of the ‘Chief Executive Officer’ of Al-Qaeda:
1. The end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The NATO mission has been stuck at International Security Assistance Force (‘ISAF’) Post Stage 4 since October 2006, with a war that began on 7th October 2001 having shown no sign of attaining any kind of meaningful resolution – until now. Bin Laden’s death gives NATO – an organisation which is presently scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014 – the perfect opportunity to declare mission accomplished and hasten its exit. The fact that Afghanistan is now a failed state where even the United Nations cannot operate without its employees risking decapitation is unlikely to deter the curtailment of operations in the decimated South Asian republic.
2. A new narrative for the Islamic world in the West. For the last 9 1/2 years, bin Laden has arguably been the key figure – whether implicitly or explicitly – whenever the matters of Muslims or Islam have been discussed in the West. This has always been logically specious given that bin Laden himself was an advocate of an extreme interpretation of Wahabbism, an ideology which regards many if not most Muslims as heretics. The death of bin Laden and the recent seismic shifts in the Middle East and North Africa yet further illustrate that the discourse of the past decade lacks relevance, and is likely to further erode.
3. The possible identification of a new existential threat. The basic idea of the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ thesis penned by the late Samuel P. Huntington is widely-known even by those who are unaware of much of its details. What is less well-known is that by 2004, Huntington – who only ever saw the Islamic world as a temporary challenge to the West – had already focused his attentions towards what he saw as the real long-term existential threat to the United States: its ever-growing Hispanic population. Whether Huntington is correct in this assessment – or whether the Confucian peril also underlined in the ‘Clash’ comes to pass – is less important than the fact that his actions show the need to identify threats, purported or genuine. If the communist and now bin Laden tropes have run their course, what next?