I am not going to dwell here on the intricacies of Bin Laden’s liquidation. War is war, and a success of today may augur a defeat tomorrow. I would only stress an obvious similarity between the conspiracy theories surrounding several “miraculous” survivals of bin Laden and his Chechen analogs in the 1990s and 2000s.
Several global newspapers now suddenly busied themselves finding out how bin Laden escaped from the Tora Bora mountains in south-eastern Afghanistan in the end of 2001. As you may remember, Bin Laden had been trapped there by advancing American troops after leaving his initial base in Kandahar. Was there someone to help him out on the American side? Conspiracy theorists in several global newspapers are already targeting former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the commander of American troops in the region Tommy Franks. After Shamil Bsayev’s escaping from Dagestan in 1999 and from the besieged Grozny in the year 2000 the same newspapers were 100 per cent sure that the Russian authorities helped this mass murderer to flee. Some journalists were positively sure that Basayev was a Russian intelligence agent. (An old local woman and Basayev’s fellow “freedom fighter” told them that, what other proof do you need? Besides, the fiery Yevgenia Albats said something about it on Ekho Moskvy, and she certainly knows best!) These same journalists, however, were telling us at the same time how “the Western community of nations” was so much better than Russia, how it could never lead anything resembling the Chechen war and how Russia’s mistreatment of Basayev’s helpers made Russia unfit for this sacrosanct club. Later we learnt about the waterboarding of bin Laden’s lieutenants, about the secret jails where terrorists and sometimes innocent people were tortured to the sound of American pop music, etc. No one questioned America’s membership in the Western club, although.
I hope the journalists from the abovementioned global newspapers who wrote those things then read these lines now. May be, they will feel such an old fashioned feeling as shame?
Some media reactions to the death of Osama ben Laden are equally dumbfounding. The New York Times is quoting the Middle Eastern admirers of bin Laden without a hint of criticism. The reason? Bin Laden is passé, since we now have democracy coming to the Arab world. Talk of democracy, this never failing self-therapy for the fanatics of the new global secular cult of human rights, turned out to be capable of blocking even such a natural human feeling as disgust for the people justifying a mass murderer.
“Osama Bin Laden is a popular charismatic figure for many people, even many moderates,” the New York Times quotes one Marwan Shehadeh, “an Islamic activist from Jordan” as saying. (Excellent moderates for first class murderers, shall we add a propos.) Having called Bin Laden “a revolutionary struggler,” Mr. Shehadeh kindly acknowledges that the time of terrorist Sturm und Drang is running out, since those “revolutionary” aims can now be achieved by political means. “As if to underline this point,” the New York Times adds optimistically, the Web site of Muslim Brotherhood, a strong candidate for the biggest faction in the new Egyptian parliament, said that after Bin Laden’s death the United States should leave Iraq and Afghanistan. As if trying to find an excuse for this somewhat simplified attitude to the modern world’s problems, the New York Times notes that Bin Laden’s successor in Al Qaeda’s chain of command, Aiman al-Zawahiri, “was radicalized in the jails of authoritarian Egypt.” Sorry for a naïve question: wouldn’t it be nice if he had not been let out of those authoritarian jails in the first place? And didn’t al-Zawahiri prove by his life’s “achievement” that he deserved being put in jail?
The new kind of “crusade” of human rights cult to the Middle East coupled with the continued desire to “contain” Russia as unfit for this cult, the repeated mantra of superiority of Arab (democratic, but aggressive) spring over Russia’s (authoritarian but peaceful) “winter” – all of those political considerations block some obvious truths, which Bin Laden taught us the hard way. Can democratic institutions indeed be entrusted to the people who justify killing “infidel” and even Moslem plane passengers because some other “infidels” are stationed in a Moslem land? That is what Bin Laden DID and that is what a lot of Arab spring’s activists JUSTIFIED. Isn’t something wrong with modern Western culture if rock music, its main liberation symbol, is used for torture? Doesn’t it allow us to view in a new light the fact that this music was once deliberately made to be unbearable for parents? Doesn’t the fact that even MUSIC of modernity can be unbearable to people not exposed to it since baby age – doesn't it allow us to look critically at this much praised modernity? After all, it was this modernity, destroying traditional industries in Europe and at the same time eagerly craving for the natural resources and markets of Moslem countries, talking about education and reducing the social status of a fiction writer to zero, talking about human rights and forgetting about humans – it was this modernity that woke Bin Laden up.
P.S. In the old, pre-democratic times, people knew that Islam was about being loyal to God and nice to your neighbor. That music was about harmony and God’s presence in your life, and not about chasing your parents out of the room or making the life of prison inmates unbearable. May be we should first refresh those things in our minds before even talking about democracy.