ROVING EYE Welcome to the post-Osama
world By Pepe Escobar
To follow Pepe's articles on the Great
Arab Revolt, please click here.
United States President Barack Obama,
riding high in the polls, his re-election
virtually assured, is now free to bask in the glow
of his all-American victory in the global "war on
terror", which his administration had rechristened
"overseas contingency operations" (OCO). The Osama
Bin Laden hit on Monday was indeed an OCO - a
swift, overseas "kinetic military action"
surmounting innumerable contingencies such as the
violation of the aerial space of a theoretically
Yet US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton's first reaction was to
stress the "war on terror" in fact goes on
forever, true to the spirit
of the Pentagon's own slogan,
"The Long War". That applies especially to the
ultra-strategic AfPak theater. It's as if
commander-in-chief Obama could not but be a regal
prisoner in a labyrinth not of his own making.
The White House's move to break out of the
labyrinth was to paradoxically go ballistic and
seal the death of the 9/11 trauma, capitalized by
the George W Bush administration as a license to
kill evil - be it in itself or in the form of an
axis - and thus affirm Jeffersonian freedom. From
2001 to 2008, those were the years when the
hyperpower - on a mission from God and focused as
a laser on a Hegel/Fukuyama "end of history" -
simply trampled over international law.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were
supposed to be only the first two stops on the way
to redemption (then there would be the road to
Damascus, Tehran and even Tripoli ...) What was
christened as The Greater Middle East project was
supposed to smash "terror" and the regimes that
sheltered it; the Taliban Afghanistan and - in the
neo-con vision - Saddamist Iraq. Others would
inevitably fall like dominoes.
decade after 9/11 - and with the Bush "dead or
alive" promise finally fulfilled Terminator-style
- where does the former hyperpower goes next?
The strategic chessboard has completely
changed. It's hard to exercise hyperpower hegemony
when you know China will overtake you as the
world's number one economy, possibly as soon as
2016 - and when you're drowning in debt to, who
else, strategic competitor China. Yet you're still
overextended military, and your never-ending "war
on terror", not to mention two-and-a-half wars,
are costing trillions of dollars, paid up by, who
else, your top banker China.
power is not as seductive as it used to be -
although your hi-tech creativity is still
matchless; and most of all nobody in the
developing world, starting with the BRICS group,
gives any credence to your Washington Consensus
And the winner is ...
China So for now the winner of the "war on
terror" is China, which for a number of reasons,
paramount among them the Deng Xiaoping motto "to
get rich is glorious", is now close to the point
where it was for 18 of the past 20 centuries, that
is, on top.
Obama may be accused of many
things - including of being a Nobel Peace Prize
warmonger. But he's also a smart intellectual. The
president has surveyed the landscape and has seen
how America's Paul Kennedy-diagnosed imperial
overextension has accelerated its decline. And he
also has seen how in the process the US was
totally corroded by the specter of "Islamic
And that may lead us to the
answer of the magic bullet question about the
timing of the Bin Laden hit.
happened, music genius Karlheinz Stockhausen said
- to the outrage of millions of Americans - that
"this was the greatest work of art the world has
ever seen." He had a point as 9/11 - in terms of
its impact upon the collective unconscious of
mankind, almost to the point of paralysis -
reduced Albert Speer's and Leni Riefenstahl's
specials to child's play.
symbolically kill the "war on terror" - which was
invented because of 9/11 - Obama had to
(literally) kill the (alleged) perpetrator, be it
real or not, guilty or not, a clone or not. Thus
the hit, the swift disposal of the body, no
photos, end of the movie, no credits rolling; a
tight cinematic narrative. The obvious holes in
the plot, as in any Hollywood blockbuster, are
deemed irrelevant; what matters is success at the
box-office - and we move on.
basketball-playing Freudian, Obama went for the
kill, the reason of the whole trauma. He
identified it as the only way to start anew - as
in trying to end the wars in both Afghanistan and
Iraq and start concentrating on what really
matters for the US; investments in education and
infrastructure, the dire state of the economy.
There's no guarantee Obama's "cure" will
work. Millions of Americans may - and are -
feeling the boost, as if the whole country
ingested a tsunami of Red Bull. The key question
is whether jihadism will disappear for good from
the current geopolitical landscape.
fact even before the Bin Laden hit it had already
been defeated by history - as in the great 2011
Arab revolt affirming, unequivocally, the Arab
world's will to welcome democracy, not suicide
Obama's "cure" will face
monstrous contradictions. Drones kill civilians in
the Pakistani tribal areas while the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization's "humanitarian" war
kills civilians in Libya. Humanitarian warmongers
silent in the face of the appalling repression in
Bahrain and the House of Saud getting away with
conducting an anti-democracy counter-revolution
all across the Persian Gulf.
If Bin Laden
- and Muammar Gaddafi - may be selected for
diplomacy by targeted assassination, why not the
ghastly dictatorship in Myanmar, or Islam Karimov
in Uzbekistan? Moreover, the Pentagon will keep
fighting with all its might to keep its Long War
going on forever.
Obama the psychoanalyst
has just baptized a new, post-Osama world. Let's
see how America reacts, or if it's soon back to