The Ghost of Osama bin Laden
By Ralph Nader
(The imagined conversation between the Ghost of Osama bin Laden and President Barack Obama)
The Ghost of Osama bin Laden swirled into the Oval Office where Barack Obama was spending the evening going over a pile of requested sign-offs for drone missions.
Osama’s Ghost: “Mind if we have a conversation one year after you dispatched my body to the ocean sharks?”
With curiosity reigning supreme, President Obama replied, “Ok, so long as you remain hovering and do not alight to defile this solemn room.”
Osama’s Ghost: “Thank you. After your SEALs bravely shot, rather than captured, me while I was defenseless in my bedroom, you told your nation that ‘for the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.’”
“Correct, the form of your presence now attests to that fact,” the President curtly declared.
Osama’s Ghost: “You completely misunderstood. You see my work was completed by the evening of September 11, 2001. After that, the terror that I wanted to implant in American hearts was continued and intensified by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and you far, far beyond what our little, exaggerated al-Qaeda could ever dream of doing.”
“How so? Make it short!” Obama demanded.
Osama’s Ghost: “Okay, you want it short? You and your predecessors are ones who, for over a decade, starved your domestic needs in favor of huge military adventures in Asia and Africa, took away the freedoms of your people and replaced them with fear and anxiety over the wildly overblown but very profitable war on terror. You destroyed the esteem of the world’s people by reacting to 9/11 with aggressive attacks, torture, indefinite imprisonment without charges, secret laws, secret evidence, secret prisons and routine violations of national borders. You backed tyrants in these countries who slay and loot their own people with U.S. weapons, predatory corporations and political cover. You spy everywhere on the American people and watch your own soldiers commit suicide in record numbers. Do you know why these American soldiers are killing themselves, Mr. President?”
“You tell me, Dr. Freud,” said President Obama.
Osama’s Ghost: “Because when you send them to Iraq and Afghanistan for wars not of defense but of aggression, and they end up killing so many innocent women, children and men, their consciences are traumatized. Your generals like to say their brains are physically traumatized. By what? Your adversaries have no artillery, bombers and missiles to do that job. It is the trauma of their conscience when they see the burned, broken and dismembered bodies of little children and their mothers and fathers in their homes, mosques, or markets. People were blown up while just gathering together to collect wood or participate in wedding processions. In addition, they see the daily suffering of millions who are maimed and homeless.”
“You should talk, after the massacre of my people on 9/11,” exclaimed President Obama.
Osama’s Ghost: “But at least the attackers went ‘down with the ship’, as you Americans say, and this attack was designed to make you suffer like you have made us suffer a millionfold over the decades. As a scholar and a son of Africa, you should understand what life is like under American-supported tyrants. Imagine American military bases – even in our holy lands – and the brutal suppression of any resistance to overturn these puppet dictators and expel their infidel masters from the West. If you were not in our backyard, including the Palestinian nakba, or catastrophe, which the U.S. made happen, our martyrs would never have gone to New York and Washington on 9/11.”
“Do not lump me in the same room with Bush and Cheney,” said an irritated Obama. “They lied this great nation into the invasion of Iraq and played right into your hands, as Bush’s own anti-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke wrote. I opposed this war but vowed to clear al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan by shifting our soldiers from Iraq. You know what happened to you all after that, don’t you, Ghost?”
Osama’s Ghost: “Yes, Mr. President. Al-Qaeda is not much in Afghanistan, having decided to migrate its activities to Pakistan and encourage our brothers in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa. They are moving into Syria from al-Qaeda in Iraq where it first surfaced thanks to your invasion. The word used by the CIA is ‘blowback.’ But no one is furthering our basic mission of weakening the U.S. more than the rulers of the country are themselves. Look at your rich-poor economy; Wall Street’s destructive greed; crumbling schools, roads, transit, clinics, drinking water facilities; and starved public budgets for the most basic necessities of your people – food for the hungry, healing for the sick, shelter for the homeless.”
Osama’s Ghost: “Even your people overwhelmingly say that America is going in the wrong direction and they want out of Afghanistan. What is a democracy for anyway, Mr. President? Again, you’re doing al-Qaeda’s job – weakening your country to bankruptcy until it can no longer continue ‘messing in our business’ as the Presidential candidate, Ron Paul, says daily. You see, at my compound in Abbottabad, reading occupied me. There was nothing left to do because you Americans cannot resist doing it to yourselves year after year. Given my lack of precautions, I didn’t care if I was executed because my mission was fulfilled. Near the end, grieving over Muslims killing Muslims, I became a fatalistic mystic.”
“Are you finished, Ghost? I have to decide on some high value targets in three countries. The hunt will never cease,” said President Obama.
Osama’s Ghost: “But, Mr. President, you had the highest value target of all and you eliminated the chance to interrogate me. Think what I could have told you about the past 30 years for your intelligence services.”
“Tell me what, in a phrase. Your time is up!” declared President Obama.
Osama’s Ghost: “Well…thank you, thank you for all that you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney have done, Mr. President.”
Whereupon the Ghost evaporated into the ether and the president started signing.