When the announcement came late last night that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by the United States, many took to Twitter, the streets, and the airwaves to offer snap judgments, brief thoughts, and celebration. Immortal Technique, instead, took a different route. The always critically thinking, socially conscious rhymer decided to reflect. He reflected on the news and what it meant for this country and the world, and he translated those reflections onto digital paper.
This morning, we saw Tech tweet the following: "I wrote a very long essay about Bin Laden and Afghanistan and our involvement with it, but I doubt any of you really want to read it all. There is no link. It's not posted it's just sitting here. I haven't posted it anywhere yet." We wanted to give a platform for the response one of hip-hop's most politically aware minds. Tech in turn blessed us with this potent, lengthy essay that you'll find below.
We encourage you to prove him wrong in doubting that anyone will read his words.
In a world that has been flooded by news, there is usually nothing that rises far above the smoldering lava of sensation--that which consumes all truth and absorbs all lies mixing them into a fiery lake or stew of bubbling nonsense. So much so, that to discover glanced over facts, to question people of importance within government or the machine itself leads to the branding of one as a "conspiracy theorist."
Truthfully, there are many people who lived life with doubt over the facts surrounding 9/11, who felt afraid to express it, probably because they feared being accused of "hating America," of being "with the terrorists," hence sympathizing with the people who were responsible for killing all of those who died on 9/11. You talk to people like this at work, you see them walking by you everyday, you can read their rants on message boards or in chat rooms around the world, insulting people who present their doubts. Some choose to not question anything to fit in, others just figure their opinion is irrelevant and doesn't change anything. After all, there is such thing as human error and no matter how much the government or people in it stand to gain, they could have a made a mistake, by mistake, and not on purpose. Some secrets are best kept secrets in the interest of national security. However, if national security means protecting the abuse of power and the negligence of authority, then it is not the security of a nation that is being protected, but the indulgences of the corrupt.
Of course, the counterpart to this position, which creates the fervor of hatred and disrespectful debate, is the believer of all conspiracy theories and repeater of random information with only websites as sources. The angry person who blows up a postal truck because they think that their tax dollars shouldn't go to excessive spending, or things like bombing people or paying mercenaries triple for what soldiers should be doing. This person is sometimes purposefully placed in that position and given a platform as a deterrent for the people who actually have a truth to be heard and taken seriously. This is what we term an agent provocateur, a mole planted to make the real issues lose credibility mixed in with insanity.
Not all people who doubt the official version of the story are raving lunatics, though. Some have an honest distrust of their own government. Some are veterans of a war like Vietnam who know that the people who run the United States of America are very capable of lying even to the best and bravest of those who risk their lives to defend the dwindling freedoms that we enjoy. Others are youthful minds, seeking to present themselves as different than the bland and overwhelmingly planned out and boring existence that chokes anything original or radical around them.
For the rest of us that are caught in between, it creates a crushing vice. The overflow of information, whether it was naturally evolving or a deliberate blurring mechanism put into place, distorts everything. And so for the sake of logic and truth, and to put the recent events surrounding Osama Bin Laden in perspective, I have decided to address several points about America's tumultuous relationship with him.
1. First Impressions
There are people in this country who, when they speak, give you the impression that we never negotiate with terrorists; that our mission is to overthrow dictatorships; that we help the people gain true freedom; and that we do not torture people... But without lending any weight to conspiracy, there is documented evidence that at Guantanamo Bay, at Bagram Airforce base, and other secret locations we have tortured thousands, many wrongly accused, to obtain information. We have supported many more dictatorships than we could ever possibly overthrow because it was necessary for us to be able to have access to natural resources including their cheap labor. Why else would the clothing manufacturers in Honduras quietly lobby for the coup in 2009 and support it? Because the people who make their clothes might Unionize. Collective bargaining, health standards (not even American ones, but that of the nation they are in), humane conditions, all mean cutting into the profit margin and, in case you haven't noticed, that matters more to corporations than people's lives. Why do you think a dictatorship like Mubarak's or the King of Saudi Arabia's never received the same vitriol and hatred as the democratically elected regime of Hugo Chavez? Because it is not Communism or Socialism or even radical Islam that this country is opposed to. It is any form of government, any regime or any person that stands between the United States and it's interests that should be considered marked for death. (By the United States, I mean the entities--be they corporate or of some other means--that are responsible for our elected officials being in the positions of power they hold.)
Actually, we have always "negotiated with terrorists." Iran Contra. "The Surge," not in troop strength, but also the surge in money we paid armed militias and armed gangs to not fire at American troops. Etc... So it's clear, we only care about one kind of terrorist. Our terrorist. That person or organization is our dog, and our dog alone. When others use such tactics against us, it is evil, unkind and inhumane. But when we use these approaches against enemies who have already been demonized, then we find some gentle complacency over it instead of the anger and betrayal at our American standard of war. For nothing damages the American pride more than to acknowledge that underneath the stars and stripes, we can be just wicked as everyone else in the world.
2. The Love Affair of the Past
In the case of Osama Bin Laden, there was a time when his violence against an enemy and his ability to raise money around sympathetic members of his circle was an asset to this nation's agenda. When "Operation Cyclone" was put into effect in order to create a Vietnam-like atmosphere for Russia inside Afghanistan, Bin Laden was heralded as a freedom fighter. His belief in an extremely conservative version of Islam was of no consequence; the methods used to kill Russians by Mujahideen fighters, unquestioned. It was a guerrilla war, in which victory would come slowly and at a very high cost to the people of Afghanistan. Only one thing mattered: killing and punishing the enemy.
I often thought of that, especially when I was in Afghanistan. I glanced over mass graveyards full of green flags and wondered what these people were told they were fighting for. Was it their duty as Muslims to repel the invasion of a people whose government didn't believe in organized religion? On the flipside, sitting inside a tank outside of Kabul broken and deformed by war, I thought of the Russian troops who died in it. I'm sure these kids didn't want to go to war, they didn't ask to go; much like our soldiers, they were simply following orders. I'm sure their death left a hole in their mother's heart, the same kind of hole that is left in an American mothers heart who is told that her son or daughter has perished in Basra or Khandahar. And yet there are people who thought that it was worth it, that the might of Communism, the threat of it was so great that no expense should be spared and that the allies used in this war would be given free range.
The religious fanatics and their antics were of no concern for the advisors to President Jimmy Carter. Some were scarred by memories of Russia's Imperialist ambition (disguised as Communism at the time) and called for a slow bleeding of the USSR. Afghanistan was chosen to be the cutting tool. They would pay the ultimate price as their methods of war came to life in the ignorance they brewed and inhumanity they praised to gain their objective. So, now, the question becomes, what methods of inhumane deeds, what torture that we have overlooked waits to face us in the future? What rotting half cooked dead body have we made someone cry over and then excuse with a date **** phrase like "collateral damage"? Who is waiting for revenge in the future for the 9/11 that we have visited upon their lives.
After the collapse of the Dr. Najibullah's regime, the loss of countless Afghan lives and over 20,000 Russian soldiers, Usmah bin Muhammad bin Awad bin Ldin became another unpronounceable name that, to be quite honest and veer from the formal manner of journalism, nobody here gave a **** about in 1989. The U.S. and its allies will downplay his roll, saying he just raised money, that he was not a great fighter. But he was a link, and a recognizable one that was considered as an asset to the CIA and to other intelligence services like the Pakistani ISI. In other words, he did to the Russians what we would call terrorism if it were done to us now.
However, we are left with a question. What is a terrorist exactly? Is it a person who commits random acts of violence against civilians or military personnel in order to push forth a political agenda? If that is the case, then when people playing a real video game in some military office fire a drone at a target and kill civilians, are they terrorists? How often do we actually employ people like this in The Middle East, in Latin America, Asian or Africa to affect results? Forgive me, I have left you with more questions than information, but maybe now you at least understand my sincerity. I do not wish to spoon feed you a story, but only to make you think for a moment.
3. Obama vs. Bush
I saw a sign held up by two very young people cheering in front of the white house saying, "Obama, you forgot to say thank you to President Bush." I almost laughed out loud for a second but, rather than judging them, I thought about it critically. The capture of Bin Laden took place in Abbottabad, which is approximately 30 miles Northeast of Islamabad. The operation took place in a wealthy suburb populated by retired high-ranking Pakistani military officials. Wasn't it Bush who diverted all of the attention from Bin Laden to topple Sadaam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Wasn't this at a critical stage in which he could have been close to capture? And if he was captured, could Iraq and our presence in Afghanistan then be justified in 2002? How many American lives could have been saved if Iraq never happened? How will the right wing attempt to spin this in the upcoming election? Bin Laden's elimination shows that President Obama was willing to give the go ahead, to drive into Pakistan and to commit US forces to America's agenda more than Bush was. He is truly a Caesar in the tradition of conquerors, but a triumph parade is out of fashion these days; there must be only unscripted (but scripted) praise and joy. But it must never, under any circumstances, look like hatred. We never hate anyone. They hate us. We don't hate them. Just keep repeating that to yourself.
4. Figures of Hate
It's easy to blame Hitler for killing 6 million Jews. He's the figurehead. He was a megalomaniac, an iron fisted dictator and a wild anti-Semite. It's harder to take a look, though, at the society in Germany that turned everyday human beings, like the people you see walking around in America, into raving nationalists capable of anything. It's easy to blame Stalin for his purges and millions of lives he destroyed. There are even people in this country ignorant enough to say that it is the inherent evil of Socialism and Godlessness that causes these things. However, it's harder to pin point the person that is responsible for the African slave trade that cost hundreds of million of lives. There is no one person responsible for covered up massacre of Armenians or the mass genocide of Native American Indigenous people on this side of the world. You cannot hold Europeans collectively responsible, but most certainly those who were "escaping religious persecution" are dwarfed (again) by the hundreds of millions of lives that were lost as a direct result of their migration/invasion.
Bin Laden may be the face of radical Islam, but he was not its only leader. His death leaves a vacuum, a place for others that may wish to find fame and at the same time satisfy their supposedly pious Muslim ego in "accepting their duty" to engage in a Jihad against someone who is occupying their country. This person who wishes to be a singular entity must remember, only a few of those have ever held true power.
Bin Laden was not a devil. He was a regular person who was created by his circumstance, and by his many supporters including this government, but had he been born in Florida he could have owned a business renting boats or cars or running a restaurant. In the end, he chose his own fate, but I believe the radicalization of Islam, brought about by colonialism and harnessed by the Cold War was a factor.
The real question is, though, what do you believe?
5. What to Believe
It's hard to believe anything these days. Why was he found so easily in such plain sight? So he was just in there, getting room service, relaxing, ******* checking his Internet, drinking tea and making disrespectful video blogs all day? How many people knew where he was? Did he know they knew? Did he ever go outside during the day? He never had plastic surgery to change his appearance? Was that really him that they just killed? How would we know anyway? Will more details be released about his death? Has he always been alive, waiting for the right time for us to kill him at a time when we needed the bolstering/distraction? Or has he always been dead and this announcement comes at similar time? Was he a coward for attacking the U.S. with suicide bombers? Or were his enemies the cowards for firing missiles from 1,000 miles away? Why buried at sea, and so quickly? That's not a "Muslim tradition." Being buried in 24 hours is, but no one has ever said, Hey, Uncle Muhammad died, oh **** let's find some water throw him in...Really? Will being drowned and not having a body make him any less of a martyr? Can a shrine not be built anyway? No one has in their possession, to my knowledge, the physical body of Jesus Christ, does that stop him from having millions of followers, and thousands of places of worship dedicated to him and what he represents? Maybe they just cut his hands off and sent them to Langley like Che Guevara. The problem with asking these questions is that people brand you as a "conspiracy theorist."
What if I told you about a conspiracy that involves a group of people who are working on making a weapon never before known to mankind? This thing will change the face of war forever and so anyone who comes into the knowledge of this process is either: absorbed into the project, assassinated or imprisoned.
The mixture of science and military technology is at work night and day until these people secretly achieve their sinister goal. They build a weapon that can kill hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people in one shot. These people conspire to then use that weapon against a sworn enemy of their country, whom they happen to be at war with.
The skeptics are scoffing at me and all rolling their eyes right now, but what if I told you that this weapon really existed, and that this process was real and that on August 6th 1945 we used this weapon... on Japan, producing its desired results. Wouldn't that be a conspiracy?
There are companies that meet everyday to decide which chemicals are the cheapest to put in their products and how to alter the law to make them sellable. That is a conspiracy. People lobby congress behind closed doors for tax breaks while we cut social services. That is a conspiracy. There are governments who will use men like Bin Laden all the time as a proxy against their opponents. That is also a conspiracy, and since we are one of those governments who used such a man, we are the conspiracy.
We captured the man responsible for 9/11.
That's how some people feel. But I don't feel that way.
What ever happened to all of those people who were placing negative bets on the airline stock that plummeted that day and then never claimed their money? I'm sure they knew something, or know someone who knew more than they did. The people who murdered Shah Massoud whom those in Afghanistan said were Pakistani ISI trained killed the only person capable of being a real liaison between a post Taliban government and the world.
But we didn't want an independent thinking man. We needed a puppet like Karzai to rule once the Taliban who offered Bin Laden without evidence were turned down and it became apparent that they were on their way out. Didn't these people in the councils of government here know and feel that there was going to be radical shift in policy towards Central Asia and The Middle East? And what about the Pakistani government and the military, doesn't this prove what people have been saying overall that many high ranking officials knew where Bin Laden was the entire time? That they were taking billions in counterterrorism money all the while laughing and dancing around and entertaining Bin Laden. If you think about it, as repulsing as he is to us what we have done to that region is so repulsing that knowing full well what kind of individual this is people were willing to house him for 10 years. (That's if you believe the story.)
Also, seeing how the Taliban themselves are not really wholly from Afghanistan but also from subsections of North Western Pakistan and/or orphans of a war displaced and raised in that society, now what? Will they simply abandon their traditions because one man is dead? I would have honestly rather seen Bin Laden captured and brought to trial, to spill all of his dirty little secrets, to expose his contacts within many governments. But we all knew that wasn't going to happen. Instead we are spoon fed a story about a man who was on the run from the world, living the Beverly Hills of Northern Pakistan. He was descended upon, killed with no evidence remaining, no proof to the world, only the word of the state, and then his body disposed of at sea. Conspiracy theorists will say that is too convenient, those who believe the story will find it difficult to defend but go along with what the news says as their talking points. Not because they want to, but because their pride doesn't really offer them any other choice.
8. The Question(s) of Occupation
What real justification do we have now to stay in Afghanistan? We were losing a war to Guerrillas and the people themselves who were simply fed up with the unwelcome presence of strangers. The drones that were touted as being the "future of war" turned out to be a video game gone wrong. I'm sure there are kids out there playing Black Ops or World of Warcraft with better hand eye coordination than the individuals in charge of those prototypes from Skynet that we have patrolling the skies of Afghanistan.
That being said, it was recently discovered that Afghanistan is so rich with a diverse amount of natural resources that leaving it after committing so many lives would look like a loss in itself. So do we cover a military failure with a brief victory in the death of Bin Laden and begin the silent conquest, that which is done with treaties heavily in our advantage and completely exploitative of their land? People cheered the Egyptian revolt in Tahrir Square. Yet, since the stepping down of it's US and Israeli backed dictator, there is little mention of the new government or it's process of development, no attention to detail paid to the inquest into the secret police, and into the truth seeking that should follow the overturning of such a system. If we remove our legions, will we be able to exact influence in the same manner? I doubt it.
9. Searching for Closure
If my parents or my child or any close friend of mine were killed, I would want justice. I would pursue justice to whatever ends, not just for myself, but also so that no other person in the world would have to endure that pain.
But if I sat back and thought about it, and realized how my struggle for justice killed a hundred times as many innocent people who had nothing to do with it, I wouldn't feel proud of my achievement. I would think about how I had just created a hundred thousand people around the world to feel like I did when my loved one was killed. I would remember that while the crowds around me were cheering and celebrating. I would think that the people whose families have been destroyed as a result of this war would feel hurt by my jubilation, the way we were angry at Arabs when the news purposefully played that video of Palestinians from 1992 falsely celebrating after 9/11. (Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I don't think that was done by accident.)
We have spent over a trillion dollars and, according to several Human rights organizations, we have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, which we went into under the premise that Al-Quaeda was there pursuing nuclear and biological weapons. If my search for justice has led to various injustices that I cannot correct, that I offer no apology for, then what have I really achieved in destroying a person, if the process has duplicated the mind state that gave birth to him a thousand fold?
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man who called for any means or method of attacking the Russians during the Afghan Jihad, was heavily criticized after the attacks of 9/11 for his callous looking down upon the issues that could arise from U.S. support for Islamic militants. But he left a quote that resonated with me, "Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat." To quote Tupac, "this be the realest **** I ever wrote."
As America grows in the number of individuals of mixed ethnicity and stops being driven solely by White supremacy and the dominance of European immigrants, it can no longer rely singularly on its call for war to hold water. It must come up with terrible ways to demonize its opponents. From the simple things like pointing out how much an emeny's wife makes, while ignoring the lavish and wasteful spending of the several wives, concubines and mistresses of its allies.
The issue of **** and murder are tragic in any circumstance, but when I read the story about a woman who was raped by several men in the Libyan army, I thought about the statistics concerning **** within our own military (look them up please) and the suicide rate of our military forces. Not to mention the practices of our allies' armed forces which sometimes grossly outweigh the cruelty of our opponents'.
We cannot simply expect nations around the world to thank heaven they still exist. The dominance of the U.S. must remain subtle as it grew to such a magnitude under the previous administration that Washington D.C. looked like Rome in 117 AD. Without the gentle reign over the world, the illusion of a coalition of the willing, the world would rise up, no one in the 3rd world wants to see themselves as a vassal even though, realistically speaking, that is exactly what they are. Colombia is our vassal, Korea is our vassal, Honduras is our vassal, Japan, Mexico, El Salvador, Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine, the whole of Africa, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Kuwait, the every Caribbean country except Cuba, The Philippines--I could go on, but you get the point.
Never let the pride of where you come from ever let you forget that your neck was made in such a shape as to bend so low that your master may walk over you. The sad reality that befalls your homeland engulfs every aspect of supposed liberty. And though membership has its privileges, most of them will only be enjoyed by the upper 1% of the nation's ruling elite that usually is closely affiliated with the colonial power that once existed.
I once wrote a song produced by DJ Green Lantern called "Bin Laden," in which the chorus had already been set and ready to go. I filled this song with a sense of under-reported facts and the real feelings of people who were afraid to speak their minds. I stated in Revolutionary Vol. 2 that I didn't believe Bush did it because he wasn't that smart.
I don't think that the ex-President purposefully planned the entire scheme himself. But I have always had various doubts about a regime that promised to release the photos of the plane that hit the pentagon and gave me one still shot of something that resembled the head of a garden hose superimposed over the actual picture. They couldn't even tell the truth about the air we were breathing because God knows what the hell was really in those buildings besides asbestos.
The entire premise of the war with Iraq was not true. Whether it was a purposeful lie or a mistake of intelligence, I leave to you, but the bottom line was that it was another red flag. It began to remind me of a child who tells a lie and to cover up that lie he tells, and another one and another one, until the lie becomes so big that it begins to eclipse the truth.
The beautiful thing about the art form that we created was it's resounding ability to capture on going events and present them in a rhythmic format that others can appreciate. I suggest though that people seeking to include this in their rhymes search beneath the surface instead of snatching a quick punch line. Because this has cost thousands of American lives, ruined people all over the world, and it's part of the reason this country is going bankrupt, and your children aren't going to have any Social Security; so, really, brother, the joke's on you. So before you consider how this will probably play in getting Obama re-elected or some other conspiracy theory, consider that.
I leave you now with this brief story.
After the Russians were ousted from power in Afghanistan, several Mujahideen leaders debated what their next step would be. Two major schools of thought arose. Some, like Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, wished to internalize their success, and to put all of their resources towards rebuilding Afghanistan as a pure Islamic utopia that would provide for it's suffering population. Others, like Ayman Al-Zawahiri, thought this was just the vision of idiots and dreamers, that their enemy was not just Russia but now America, Europe and secular Islamic states as well. Their opinions clashed but, at this time, Azzam, who had befriended Bin Laden, remained close to his ideological foe, thinking that Zawahiri could not challenge his authority. But it was challenged, and at a crucial time of decision-making about Afghanistan's future, Azzam was assassinated. If Bin Laden is dead, then his death is another chapter in a book that remains to be finished.
But if he's alive, then I hope someone can translate this for him. Usama, your television death may have brought on applause, but I know that it was an empty celebration. Empty because you died a long time ago when you were young and Azzam's car exploded with his sons in it, you helped betray and kill your old teacher in exchange for the approval of old man Zawahiri who held your leash afterwards. You died when Shah Massoud died. You died when you ordered the massacre of the Hazara women and children in the muddy fields outside Mazar-e-Sharif. And if there is a hell, then you confined yourself there when you killed your first Muslim child and lied to yourself that he was collateral damage for Jihad.
But don't worry, you're not alone, there are many men like you left in the world, and some of them even used to be your friends. After all, this is America, and we only kill our friends.