So, last week Osama bin Laden issued another video, essentially to remind us all that he's still alive and still worth worrying about.
This morning I found a transcript of his statement. Since it's a bit awkwardly worded, I think it bears translating. Go here to read the original: Italics are my translation or restatement of his words, and bold is my commentary, when I have any.
Paragraphs 1-2: Dear America:
Paragraphs 3-4: You're the biggest, baddest power on Earth, but because we got lucky with one attack six years ago, we're driving every single decision you make. This is exaggeration- I rather doubt Medicare Part D was inspired as an anti-terror expedient- but on foreign policy it's damn close to true. We're allowing a few thousand people to dictate who our friends and enemies are, what tactics we'll use, and even how we'll live our lives here at home- actions far beyond any possible threat those few thousand people pose.
Paragraph 5: Your media has gone along with Bush's propogranda for so long, and done so little to reveal the truth, that CNN, Fox, New York Times, etc. all look like PRAVDA- tools of the government. Nothing new there.
Paragraphs 5-8: Bush is lying about American actions in Iraq- lying about supporting the national government when we're backing various factions here and there- changing his policy on UN involvement- in an attempt to cover up his abject failure. Nothing new there, either.
Paragraphs 9-11: Bush and his cronies claim we're out to exterminate all non-Muslims- but look at the facts! You Americans virtually exterminated native Americans! It was Europeans who tried to exterminate the Jews- first the Spanish, then the Germans- when many Jews live peacefully in Muslim nations! Christians live in peace in Muslim nations by the millions! We do not call for your extermination. You lie because you seek OUR extermination- and we won't go down easy. Good talking points, but one glaring defect comes to my eye just on casual reading. bin Laden specifically points out Morocco as a haven for Jews and Egypt as a haven for Christians. These are two secular-governed nations. Islamic states on the bin Laden model, particularly Taliban Afghanistan- call for forced conversions and extermination of the infidel within their borders. Yes, we have done some very evil things in the past... but that doesn't make al-Qaida the good guys.
Paragraph 12: You brought democracy to Iraq- and it's turned out to be worse than the dictatorship. Well, no. What's happened is we brought the trappings of democracy to Iraq, because that's the only part of democracy Bush and his royalist buddies comprehend. Without more fundamental things like respect for the rights of the individual and limitations on government power, all we've done is set up a strong-man puppet dictator ruling over an elected but nearly powerless Parliament. As a result, the people of Iraq have turned away from the national government and towards their local leaders- clerics, tribal chieftains, and sectarian or racial figures. In the meantime, the body count keeps climbing- but probably not as high as the two-thirds-of-a-million people bin Laden chooses to quote.
Paragraphs 13-14: You Americans elected Democrats to end the war. They've voted repeatedly to CONTINUE it. Wanna know the reason why? I'm curious why -you- think so. I think the reason is that the Democrats LIED to American voters. They chose not to unite on ending the war, but to unite on gaining power for power's sake. They now have the perquisites of controlling government, but they don't agree within the party on what the government ought to do. The result is that the Republicans, staunchly united, retain power. But that's my explanation, not bin Laden's.
Paragraphs 15-17: Why are Bush and his buddies willing to tell bald-faced lies in order to make war? Remember, Rumsfeld killed two million civilians in Vietnam, and when President Kennedy tried to end the war, the corporate leaders had him killed. Obviously bin Laden is seriously confused about his American history. Rumsfeld post-dated Kennedy's assassination; in fact, his first military-related post in government came in February 1973, one month after the Paris peace accords. But wait, there's more...
Paragraphs 18-19: But even when you realized the war was a mistake, you didn't try and punish the criminals who brought the war on! Now Bush has brought those war criminals back- surely you knew that meant he was going to have a war with SOMEBODY? Don't claim to be innocent- you had warning, and yet you CHOSE to support these people. bin Laden has always regarded America as if we were a single, united people, with only one opinion about anything. I will say, though, that when Cheney was picked as Bush's running mate, we all should have been more alert. Cheney's made no secret of his belief that Nixon did nothing wrong and that the President is and should be all-powerful.
Paragraph 20: Noam Chomsky, the most prominent shaper of American public opinion, tried to warn you! The rest of the WORLD tried to warn you, with demonstrations, public outcry, protests of world leaders- but Bush did not listen! You did not listen! And now you must know the truth- Bush doesn't give a rat's ass about freedom. He only wants to rule the world. I wasn't aware that Noam Chomsky was all that influential, to tell the truth. How many hit records has he had?
Paragraph 21: And that's why the Democrats aren't stopping the war- because they're owned by the corporations, the same as the Republicans are. Your votes and your protests are useless, because democracy has failed. I've said before I see little to zero difference between Democrats and Republicans. A lot of that has to do with this very point: the ones of either party who get elected do so with corporate money and then turn around and do those corporations' bidding afterwards. bin Laden is wrong to say democracy has failed- more on that in a bit- but there's definitely a flaw in the system there.
Paragraphs 22-27: So here's the solution. First, we're going to kill even more of you than ever before. That's what we do. Second, you have to abandon democracy and capitalism, the evils which have caused global warming, corporate terror, oppression and suffering. Turn away from those man-made laws and so-called freedoms that caused Iraq and Afghanistan. Convert to Islam, adopt Shari'a law, and bend to the rule of the clerics. Because, y'see, fundamentalist Islam is his cure for everything... never mind that Iran and Taliban Afghanistan were and are easily as corrupt, evil, and unjust as any republic or democracy ever thought of being.
Paragraphs 28-37: Oh, you claim to believe in God, but you don't. If you did, you'd follow Shari'a law- without which there is no faith in God! No, you're pagans, because you've forgotten that all men should be slaves to God. We know better: we've kept our religion pure, and that's why we'll win. Ask Michael Scheuer for pointers if that confuses you. Michael who?
Paragraph 38: Don't judge us by how poor we are now- we were great once, when our leaders were pure in God. These days our leaders are corrupt, but we'll soon fix that. It's worth remembering that only five hundred years after Mohammad, in those times when bin Laden thinks the leaders were pure, the Mongols rolled over the old Caliphate like the original Juggernaut down the streets of Bombay.
Paragraphs 39-40: We brought down the Soviet empire when it invaded Afghanistan, and now we'll bring you down. Boastful, and over-simplistic in attributing to Brezhnev the entire fall of the USSR, but a definite element of truth.
Paragraphs 41-43: Your soldiers don't want to fight anymore. If they leave their bases, we kill them. If they stay, you punish them. The only things they can do are crack up or commit suicide. Definite oversell. A lot of soldiers oppose the war, but a lot of others still support it and want to keep fighting. A lot more than either side don't care either way- they just want those in command to make up their mind what the hell we're trying to DO over there.
Paragraphs 44-49: In conclusion: convert to Islam. It's your only hope for life after death. Muslims are much happier than anyone else, even when everyone's out to kill them. Under Islam there are no taxes. Corporations will dry up and blow away. Jesus was a Muslim. So was his mother. So convert to Islam... or else.
So, what is there to take home from bin Laden's message? Let's subtract the conversion message. Ditto, let's dump the direct propaganda- all the "we'll win because we're better" garbage. What remains at the core is what the Islamic world already believes about us- the belief bin Laden is using in this message to build support among Muslims.
The core message is: George W. Bush and his cronies want global domination. The Democrats, being controlled by Bush's corporate buddies, will do nothing to stop him. All the promises of peace, security and freedom the United States makes are lies told in order to build more power at home and abroad. Bush doesn't care what he says, doesn't care who gets killed, so long as he has power.
That's what the Muslim world believes- and bin Laden knows it. He's preaching to the choir there.
And, based on the available evidence, it is very very hard indeed to disprove.
If we want things to change in the Middle East, the second thing we have to do is stop promising peace, security and freedom, stop trying to spread democracy to the masses at gunpoint... in short, BRING OUR TROOPS HOME.
The first thing we have to do is get rid of George W. Bush- electing a replacement might work, provided it's not a Republican or Hilary, but impeachment would be preferable.