Mark Hammer

It’s a bit like a long, messy divorce, isn’t it, that dragged on and on and on, until 10 years later, the papers finally arrive in the mail and you can put it all behind you and move on with your life. Still, a little anti-climactic.

There have been, and sadly will continue to be, mistakes and bad choices made in American foreign policy, or the behaviour of American multi-nationals (e.g., Bhopal), and some imagined one, that will engender long-lasting resentment in other parts of the world. It happens. That resentment becomes dangerous when it gets organized and energized. Bin Laden’s death will certainly not put an end to the resentment, nor an end to attempts to organize it. I don’t subscribe to “great man” theories of history, but you know, you have Apple as run by Steve Jobs, and Apple, as run by me, and there is a bit of a difference with respect to their capacity to do anything of impact. I’d still be able to move a few iPads, but your shares would drop PDQ.

As a great many commentators have been noting in the recent past, Al-Qaeda has been rendered uninteresting to many potential followers by the capacity of ad hoc popular movements in the Arab world to unseat oppressive regimes that Bin Laden had been blaming the U.S. for supporting. Add to that the mounting civilian death toll in the region, arising from Taliban and other insurgent bombings and para-military operations, and you have an ever-growing distaste for what Al-Qaeda has to offer. You’ll pardon the levity, but they’re kind of the Britney Spears of the Muslim political world; interesting for a little while and then very quickly, kind of pathetic and embarrassing.

That being said, congrats to you folks. Congrats to your intelligence and military, and congrats to your president.

Re: details

Apparently, Bin Laden’s remains were offered to Saudi Arabia – his country of birth, where his extended family resides – and they said “Thanks, but we’ll pass” (or so it was reported this morning). Some have noted this morning that the quick burial at sea was partly an attempt to respect Muslim law that requires, like Judaism, burial within 24hrs unless it needs to be held up for some reason. There is a certain ignominiousness about burial at seas, regardless of whom it is, but I doubt whether any nation would welcome a burial place that could become a sort of shrine and rallying place.

Of course, for some people, unless there is a picture of Navy Seals holding a copy of the NY Daily News over his face, they will be hard pressed to accept this all as fact. Whenever you have something takes place far far away, or very quickly (moon landing, Kennedy assassination, etc.) there will always be those who see conspiracies and untruths. I just hope the tabloids aren’t pursuing the soldiers involved to find out who fired the shot that killed him. That person’s family does not deserve to have to worry about revenge attacks or be put into some sort of witness-protection program-like hiding.

I’m curious. Anyone seen Al-Jazeera’s coverage?