The electoral campaign in the US is at full swing, with foreign policy developments – the special forces' snap offensive that left bin Laden dead and the relative normalization in Afghanistan – being sold by Obama's team as a key success of the current Administration. How successful is it, actually?
A survey of what comes up in the media seems to indicate that not everybody across the US credits to Obama the operation that led to the termination of bin Laden. The alternative view held, for example, by Steve Pieczenik, is that bin Laden could have already been dead back before the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan. Assistant Secretary of State under R. Reagan and G. Bush, Jr., Pieczenik spent around 40 years studying psychological operations, anti-terrorist warfare, and methods of hostage rescue, and his insider status in the US intelligence community is beyond question. A decade ago, in April 2001, Pieczenik, then a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, said at the Alex Jones Show that bin Laden had died months before and that the US government was waiting for an appropriate moment to break the news. It is worth noting in the context that Pieczenik met bin Laden a number of times in the 1970ies, the epoch when the US propped up bin Laden's group against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Pieczenik says bin Laden died naturally in 2001 of marfan syndrome, and G. Bush and the US intelligence establishment – were aware of the fact. Moreover, according to The Guardian, «CIA physicians had visited bin Laden in July 2001 at the American Hospital in Dubai». Reportedly, several CIA operatives also talked to bin Laden at the time, as did Saudi intelligence chief prince Turki al Faisal. The information surfaced for the first time on October 31, 2001 in Le Figaro and later echoed in The Guardian.
Pieczenik rejects the official story that bin Laden was shot dead by US Navy Seals in his compound in Pakistan: «It’s a total make-up, make believe, we’re in an American theater of the absurd….why are we doing this again….nine years ago this man was already dead….why does the government repeatedly have to lie to the American people?» In Pieczenik's view, the false claim was supposed to boost the miserable rating of Obama's Administraton and to disguise the President's inability to address the country's pressing socioeconomic problems. Interestingly, quite a few intelligence operatives and even country leaders describe the timing and the circumstances of the death of bin Laden as Pieczenik does.
Fox News, with a reference to Pakistani sources, quoted the Afghan Talibs as announcing bin Laden dead, with the body buried at an undisclosed location. Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf said on January 18, 2002: "I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason he is a … kidney patient". On July 17, 2002, FBI counterterrorism chief Dale Watson told the media that bin Laden was dead at the time. Afghan president H. Karzai told the same to CNN in October, 2002. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shared with Fox News reporter Morton Kondracke the suspicion that G. Bush knew exactly where bin Laden was hiding and waited for the moment when it would be expedient to dish out the «bin Laden surprise». In November, 2005 Sen. Harry Reid leaked to a channel affiliated with NBC the information that bin Laden died in an earthquake in Pakistan the same year. In February, 2007, Duke Univesity Head of Religious Programs Prof. Bruce Lawrence asserted that «bin Laden may be dead and that many of the newer tapes are either fake or consist of old audio and video». On November 2, 2007, Pakistan's former premier Benazir Bhutto indicated to Al Jazeera weekly program host David Frost that bin Laden had been killed – answering a question who could have been behind a past attempt on her own life, Bhutto pointed to Pakistani terrorist Ahmed Omar Sheikh, referring to him as "the man who murdered Osama bin Laden». Former CIA operative turned whistleblower Robert Baer spoke confidently in a 2008 interview of bin Laden's being dead. «All the evidence suggests Elvis Presley is more alive today than Osama bin Laden. But tell that to the CIA and all the other misconceptualizers of the War on Terror», Angelo Codevilla, also a former US intelligence operative, remarked in March, 2009. In March, 2009, Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari confirmed hearing nothing about bin Laden from intelligence agencies for seven years and expressed doubts about the terrorist's being alive.
The impression stemming from the above is that the official account of bin Laden being mowed down by US Navy Seals belongs to the same category of fiction as Obama's narrative about his grandfather liberating prisoners from the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II. To do that, the grandfather would have had to serve in the Red Army, a fact not to be found in the US President's family record.
The relationship between the Obama Administration and the Taliban over the embattled Afghanistan similarly invites serious questions. Beating the Talibs was the pretext for the 2001 US invasion of the country as, according to G. Bush and D. Chaney, those sheltered bin Laden and he was responsible for the September 11 attack. President Obama and US Secretary of State H. Clinton, however, took steps to reset the US Afghan policy, assuming that a deal with the Talibs was possible and that pursuing it was a completely reasonable approach. In May, 2011, US envoys and the Talibs held several rounds of talks in Germany and two other countries on the settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. US Department of State spokesman Mike Hammer admitted that the contacts took place but chose to stress that Harzai's government had been notified.
US Secretary of State H. Clinton and Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul issued a joint statement following the first meeting of the US-Afghanistan Bilateral Commission to the effect that Washington and Kabul were open to talks with the Talibs on a truce deal and the terms under which those could subscribe to the peace process. If, after the coalition forces' staying for years in Afghanistan with the stated goal to fight against the Talibs and suffering a death toll of over 3,000, US Vice President J. Biden suddenly discovers that the Talibs are not necessarily enemies of America, the reset leaves the whole tragedy unexplained.
The Daily Telegraph, in the context, wrote, citing its sources of information, that for years the US had secretly been releasing high-level Taliban prisoners from a military prison in Bagram as part of negotiations with the insurgents. "Everyone agrees that these are bad guys. But the benefits outweigh the risks", admitted an unnamed officer who supplied the information to the newspaper. A British military expert suggests that the perpetuation of the war is in the interests of the US political and military top brass who can thus shortleash the Karzai government, threatening it with the coalition withdrawal, the chaos that will follow, and the imminent triumph of the Talibs. The US military, says the expert, have moral and material reasons to have the campaign prolonged and build their careers on it. It appears that the US Administration's decision to befriend the Talibs is attributable to both the hopes to retain control over poppy farming in Afghanistan (the US and British involvement in the lucrative business is an open secret) and to the intention to rely on the Talibs as a strike force against Russia and China in the strategic region of Eurasia.
Chances are a few of Obama's staffers would count the murder of Muammar Gaddafi among the current US Administration's foreign-policy feats. Columnist and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly heard that back in March, 2011 B. Obama issued a secret order to kill the Libyan leader, and U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the NATO Joint Operations Command in Naples, Italy, reported to House Armed Services Committee member Mike Turner that, contrary to what the US Administration used to insist on in public, the NATO forces specifically targeted Gaddafi. Mike Turner shone light on the above in an interview to Foreign Policy.
Comments are superfluous when a leader of one country orders to hunt down the leader of another. Libya was not even in a state of war with the US, and Gaddafi was a staunch opponent of terrorism, yet Washington made a choice in favor of Muslim radicals and terrorists. As a result, al Qaeda, with Obama's blessing, displaced Gaddafi, and at the moment we witness the US attempt to replay the game against B. Assad' regime in Syria.
The policy of democratic interventionism and support for radical Islam are hallmarks of Obama's approach to international relations. Owing to it, over the past couple of years the politicized Islam was empowered to an unprecedented extent, with radical Muslim groups either enthroned or wrestling for control in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Syria. Suspicion sneaks in that inducing the dynamics was the secret agenda behind Obama's celebrated reset…
Given that most constitutions allow a maximum of two sequential presidential terms, oftentimes presidents set priorities during the first term in office with an eye to re-election and follow their deeper political motivations if reinstated. A survey of Obama's first term offers little in the way of projecting what he will do on the international scene if his re-election bid goes through. He got a Nobel Prize for Peace, but that does not seem to promise peace worldwide.