By Frank Moher
The Americans who gathered outside the White House and at Ground Zero last night, waving their inevitable flags to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden, were touching in their desire to see an end to the nightmare that has been made of their lives and their country in these last nine-and-a-half years. Not so Stephen Harper in his statement on the subject, which was as cynical as one would expect.
He was right, of course, when he said that “Bin Laden’s death does not end the threat of international terrorism.” International terrorism existed long before Bin Laden made the scene, as anyone who remembers the Baader-Meinhof Group or the Japanese Red Army or the Munich Massacre can attest. For that matter, much American foreign policy of the last century-or-so could be described as international terrorism, though those partyers last night would not like to think so.
Then Harper added, “this does remind us why Canadian Armed Forces personnel have been deployed to Afghanistan: to deny Al Qaeda, and organizations like it, the use of Afghanistan, where the 9/11 attack was conceived and planned.”
But — also of course — Bin Laden denied responsibility for the attacks. And even if you suppose he was lying, the fact is the Taliban offered to cooperate in prosecuting Bin Laden provided the U.S. presented some evidence of his involvement. The U.S. didn’t feel like it, and invaded instead. Puppy-dog-like, Canada tagged along.
Oh well. If Bin Laden’s purported killing yesterday (we won’t be seeing the body, so I suspect we’ll have to take the US’s word for that, too) puts an end to our adventurism in Afghanistan, and to the winnowing of civil liberties that Americans have been subjected to since 2001, I’ll celebrate too. There are still a lot of bad guys out there — like the ones who knew 9/11 was coming and did nothing about it (except to try to profit from it on the stock market). They have yet to be brought to justice. And then there’s the vexing question of Building 7.
But for a pair of wars that have been largely showbiz from the start, this “happy ending” is perfect. Or at least it is for those touchingly credulous people on the streets last night.