Justin Webb’s comments on the situation regarding the world’s public enemy number one make for interesting reading.
I am inclined to think there is only an element of truth in what he says. Bin Laden and Hussein were, for so long, high on America’s most wanted list. They ‘got’ the latter and promptly ensured he was executed. But is the former becoming less important? I’m not sure, although the rhetoric on him has seen a drop in more recent times.
More important than that suggestion is the implications that has for those soldiers in Afghanistan. If we run with the suggestion that Bin Laden is no longer as important, then does this mean that for all those troops still positioned in Afghanistan (and still undergoing what appears to be heavy fighting), are they employed now solely in a peacekeeping role?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the invasion of Afghanistan was a clamp-down on the Bin Laden-led Taleban. The Taleban, in case you need reminding, are still very much an active force in Afghanistan, with recent news suggesting they are far from going away. Bin Laden still hasn’t been caught, and I for one doubt he ever will be. But if the implications made by Webb are to be entertained, then this would mean that the mission in Afghanistan has become either
a) unnecessary or
b) something different to the original plan.
If however we maintain, as America are likely to do, that the main objective is still the capture of Bin Laden, there is much more of a reason to keep the troops in the country. That reason, other than to save face, would still be to capture the worlds public enemy number one.
It is here where I think the issue is. America needs to save face. Those in the big white building need to keep it looking like they are hunting terrorist HQ so as not to really piss off all those anti-war folk. As well as the families of the troops who continue to die over there.
Of course, it is not just America, but, like sheep to the shepard, Britain still maintains her interest in the country, if only because America says so. That, if I’m correct, is a whole lot of people who the higher powers need to keep happy. If there is some form of justifiable cause (like the hunt for Bin Laden and the threat of terrorism) then these people are much more easily appeased, even if they still do not fully agree with the cause.
Personally I think that the emphasis has very much shifted from capturing Bin Laden and the Taleban to improving the country savaged as it has been by war, cultural and poltical strife. In a similar manner to Iraq, the hunt for one man was only ever likely to be part of the story. The rest of it, as with Iraq, is the hope that the future of the country can be rescued, and made into a less contentious place. That is why America and Britain still have an interest there. I’m not so sure Bin Laden is the issue anymore.
But is this wrong? Surely trying to rebuild a country before you have permanently sorted out the problem is putting the cart before the horse? Surely the emphasis should still be on capturing Bin Laden and the Taleban? Surely America should still be really keen to ‘get’ him? It strikes me though that for the Allies, getting Bin Laden would be a happy addition to what they are trying to do. Much like chocolate sauce on your ice-cream. It isn’t strictly necessary, but it would be nice.
Bin Laden therefore is chocolate sauce.