Osama bin Laden and the power of nightmares

A couple of days ago, I read what in retrospect was a fortuitously timed article on CNN.com. After detailing Osama bin Laden's escape from Tora Bora, Tim Lister ended by noting that OBL probably wasn't hiding in the 'tribal' area on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border at all. He reckoned that the fugitive might be holed-up in the wilds of Kunar, a remote zone that includes places where "no man has set foot". Lister was, as we know today, only half right. Osama bin Laden was actually hiding near Islamabad in what seems to have been relative comfort. He was shot dead last night by US special forces.

So the era of bin Laden at #1 on the FBI's most wanted list (he was already there when the September 11th 2001 attacks happened), is over. I can't help but feel that it makes little difference now. Because America has already accepted mortal head wounds as 'justice', permanent internment camps as 'security', and permanent war as normality.

Adam Curtis's film "The Power of Nightmares" dealt with the twin forces of militant Islamism and neo-conservatism that ended up shaping much of the current geopolitical landscape. Together (and they must always be taken together, for they needed each other desperately), they succeeded in causing probably over a million deaths, most of which occurred in the middle-east. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend that you try to get hold of a copy. UPDATE: As Erik points out in the comments below, the film is available to watch or download for free at the Internet Archive.

If all this is making you nostalgic for the days of "Get this!" Iberian Notes, check out this online novel which features a familiar-sounding character. It's eerie.

More national policy soon. Until then, sleep well: they haven't invented their new nightmare yet.

8 thoughts on “Osama bin Laden and the power of nightmares

      1. The Guardian can't even get a simple joke right. It is said that Osama's fate was sealed when on Sunday afternoon after Aaron Ramsey's goal he ran out into the compound shouting, "Come on you Gunners!"

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    1. Thanks, Erik. I hadn't realised that it was available online for free. I'll add that to the post.

      Adam Curtis has a new film out soon, incidentally. It's called All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace and you can see a trailer here.

      (and apologies for misspelling your name the first time around!)

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  1. Ok, now seriously. The more details come out the more it seems like they went to kill, not to capture Bin Laden, and serve the twisted "justice" Obama has spoken of. Are the US on the fast lane back to the stone age?

    Or applies here what Gore Vidal maintains, that every American president needs a war, and this is Obama's? (His ratings have gone up immediately after Bin Laden was announced dead.)

    I think both. It's a nation deeply divided over every single issue, with no other common ideal than itself, resorting to give way to atavic instincts which this president has just catered to. New leadership gone down the drain (again): the rest of the world will be at the receiving end for some more time.

    One PS for the those who follow US politics: Today I've seen Kornblum in a TV debate on this topic, and at one point he started off: "Now that Obama is dead…" The audience laughed and he corrected himself.

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