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The State and the State of Osama bin Laden: Marketing and Medievalism
An August 26, 2007, article
by Debra of Debsweb
, cross-posting at Big Brass Blog, cited a Newsweek article
wherein the question was asked, "[W]hy can't the world's greatest superpower find a middle-aged, possibly ill, religious fanatic with a medieval mind-set?" The 'religious fanatic' to which Newsweek
refers is, of course, Osama bin Laden, and the 'world's greatest superpower' is, of course, the United States of America.
The fact of the matter is that our intel is so wretchedly poor on bin Laden that we really have no idea of his condition. Here are the possibilities:
1) He's dead.
2) He's still alive but in wretched shape, given that he's been on kidney dialysis far longer than any normal human being of his age would be able to suffer it under the rugged, austere, unsanitary conditions in which he must live and travel as a wanted fugitive.
3) He's alive, and he's had a kidney transplant, which would have bought him a greater or lesser amount of time among the living. He has the money to get the transplant, and he probably has the resources to have been moved surreptitiously into and then from a hospital where such an operation could have been performed.
Whether or not he remains among the living, it is in the interest of his close associates to maintain
that he remains alive. Most of the groups pledging allegiance to "al-Qa'ida" are actually pledging allegiance to bin Laden. He has become, thanks in no small part to United States President George W. Bush, a living legend; however, similar to quite a few other 'living legends'both those who worked for good and those who worked for illof history, he has to remain living
for his influence to remain even marginally meaningful: no one in his inner circle commands the ethos, despite the fact that it has been several of his top lieutenants who have for years done the international legwork to rally insurgencies to the al-Qa'ida banner.
But therein lies the key: most of the international "al-Qa'ida" branding is just a label for a collection of disparate packages of highly variable quality and content, each of which is entirely disjointed operationally and even ideologically from the core that resides in bin Laden, himself. In other words, troublemakers like "al-Qa'ida in Iraq" and the al-Qa'ida movements in Asia and Asia Minor have the name, but their interests are almost all far more parochial; and they will always remain that way.
If bin Laden becomes dead to the world, the spectrum of "al-Qa'ida" groups will continue to call themselves 'al-Qa'ida in This Place' and 'al-Qa'ida in That Place'; but the brand name will be nothing more than legacy to virtually every one of them, save for the remnants of the core immediately surrounding the formerly living legend. The saying goes that "All politics is local"; the war equivalent of this is that "All insurgency is local": be it politics or rebellion, long-arm financing is not the same as control, and declared fealty to abstract, detached authority has precious little to do with tactical or even strategic goals on the local turf.
The situation in which Islamic insurgencies find themselves these days is rather similar to that offered by the feudal system in England of the Middle Ages: nobles would declare "homage and fealty" to a higher lord, perhaps even to the reigning king or to the incumbent pope, thereby becoming vassals of that higher lord and, in the event, transferring legal title to their lands and other holdings to that higher authority; in exchange, they would be granted perpetual estate over their former holdings, and they would garner the full benefit of the protection, legal and military, of the lord to whom they had pledged. In reality, however, the effect of such a pledge was far less a matter of surrendering anything at all or
of gaining material support, at least in the long run. For the pledging vassal, the ritual was engaged principally for the acquisition of titular association: he, by becoming aligned with the nominative authority of the lord to whom he had pledged his homage and fealty, could acquire by the association political, financial, and military power (provided he understood how to use the doors of power opened by his association).
Osama bin Laden is nothing new: murderous criminals have always existed; and many have gotten away with their monstrous crimes. Somewhat less common is a powerful sovereign granting such a rogue his very own sovereign status, thereby transforming a mass murderer into an authority able to beckon others to pledge allegiance to a flag that had no legitimacy until a real sovereign state gave its grant in words and deeds. Perversely, then, President Bush drew a commoner to nobility as his knight-errant in a vassal-lord relationship to the explicit purpose of thereby having an enemy worthy of the sovereign's attention on the battlefield.
Thus, until such time as bin Laden is dead to the world, al-Qa'ida will be at once a meaningful, feudal entity offering legitimacy to the illegitimate and an equally viable, modern label for co-branding by wanton killers across a world of malcontents alienated by modernity, yet perversely willing to subscribe to its corporatist marketing methods and weaponry.
The Dark Wraith finds the situation altogether rich for future case studies in business and
Your penultimate paragraph is the best explanation yet for the Current Occupant's statement some time ago that he doesn't much think about bin Laden, and the lack of a push to find him.
We must have a bogey man with which to frighten the sheep!
alienated by modernity, yet perversely willing to subscribe to its corporatist marketing methods and weaponry.
Something old, something new.
Well DW, looks like the plan is 50% complete.
Commence second half of "Barking Seal".
Good News, Bad News:
Good Breaking News: Gonzo Resigned!
Bad News: Congress is still OUT of session so W will probably make a recess appointment.
My pick is BARNEY!
You who are regular readers here recall that I saw Gonzales' resignation a mile away (as did some others): "The President's Optimal Strategy in the Matter of Alberto Gonzales"
Dear Heaven, this Admistration is not only incompetent and corrupt, it's uncreative.
The Dark Wraith could be a little more charitable if Bush were to have a few surprises up his greasy sleeve.
I've said for a few years now ... all we needed to do was post a wax statute of Whitney Houston in the mountains of Tora Bora, and blast her hit "Whatchulookinat" from a boombox. And given his obsession, Bin Laden would have fallen for it hook, line and sinker. But did anyone ask me? Nooooooooo! ;-)
You quoted: ""[W]hy can't the world's greatest superpower find a middle-aged, possibly ill, religious fanatic with a medieval mind-set?"
and I immediately thought and I swear this is true
"Waddaya mean? Oh this must be a joke. We have one in the WH"
and then realized that we were talking about bin laden. duh
Good afternoon, BlondeSense.
The difference being that, while Mr. Bush might very well be unwell in the noggin, he seems to be in pretty good shape otherwise.
After all, given that he recently had his colonoscopy, the only polyps remaining are those that populate the Office of the Vice President...
...and just about every other agency of the Executive Branch.
The Dark Wraith suspects it will take years to flush that system clean.
Good afternoon, Brooke.
Whitney Houston?!! bin Laden's got it on for her?!
Geez, and here I was thinking of maybe blasting Air Supply or KC and the Sunshine Band into the mountains of Afghanistan.
It might not flush him out, but a whole lot of Taliban would commit suicide with a few hours.
That, or cut off their own ears.
The Dark Wraith knows torture.
DW: According to his former lover, bin Laden had the hots for Whitney and thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. He even contemplated putting a hit out on her husband. I did not read this in the National Enquirer, I swear! It was reported in a paper with the utmost credibility - The Washington Post. LOL
By the way, Professor, do I even want to know what a "greasy sleeve" is? I dont, do I? I hope Trog doesn't read this post. ;-)
No, Brooke, you don't.
The Dark Wraith maintains the decorum commensurate with his imaginary status.
You who are regular readers here recall...
Obviously, not one of you clickied my linky up yonder, whereby I scooped you all!
Good afternoon, Our Miss Brooke.
Since you obviously took the good perfessors advice and did not google the term: Greasy Sleeve, let me be your guide to the wonders of American Slang.
The phrase: greasy sleeve refers to the act of reaching into the corned beef and cabbage pot to retrieve the fork you dropped. -1
Grazie, Yoda! ;-)
"world of malcontents alienated by modernity, yet perversely willing to subscribe to its corporatist marketing methods and weaponry."
Not perverse at all--By any means necessary. It is the very best of Post Modern pastiche. Didn't McLuhan and Toffler see this stuff coming 40+ years ago?
And, it is a very ancient approach, as well, esp. for the lesser in strength to use the enemy's superior strength against him.
I would respectfully disagree with you here:
"He (OBL) has to remain living for his influence to remain even marginally meaningful"
Christianity has done pretty well for 2,000 years having a dead leader. All that is needed is dogma and a chain of command (like the apostles). It is like the Shiites waiting for the 12th Imam (or whomever) to resurrect.
I believe al-Qaida will remain viable with or w/o OBL. His death will not matter, as he will only ascend in the hagiography. However, if we had captured him at Tora Bora, that would have been a come-down. Why we did not remains an unknown.
Good evening, Lisa.
The difference between Yeshua and Osama is in the functionality of the promoters: without Paul, Jesus would have faded into a Jewish sect among the many in Jerusalem. Paul took Jesus from being a very Jewish man of His time and transformed Him into a message portable to the Gentiles of Asia Minor. In the process, Paul infuriated Jesus's brother and annoyed Peter, but at least the latter came to grasp the way in which Paul was able to project the gospel beyond the boundaries of the confines of those interested in messianic movements of Judea.
Furthermore, in Paul's aggressive willingness to thwart the alternative message of the shadowy figure Apollon, he rendered hints of and validation for what would come to be full-fledge, brutal, and utterly necessary suppression of Christian heresies that would come in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries C.E.
That al-Qa'ida and early Christianity are both capable of fielding martyrs gives the appearance of a congruence of means, as does the powerful taste of anti-intellectualism propelled by rejection of Empire and its use of "civilized" thought, means, and technology; however, in my judgment, the similarities are only superficial: while radical Islamicists and early Christians share a vision of an end state, their sense of the role of earthly agents is completely different. Early Christians (unlike their modern counterparts) were almost entirely dedicated to prognostication; modern radical Islamicists (like their modern radical Christian counterparts) believe very much in the agency of their own works in bringing about conflagration predicate to dominance in a new world order that favors their own.
You are correct: Osama will enter the pantheon. The issue, in my view, is the extent to which he will matter, there. Many are the Christian saints, the Buddhist masters, the Islamic greats of their time who were so important to those around them and even to many far from them; these towering figures of their time are revered in the books, chants, and records of their respective religions, philosophies, and lore; but they are no more than barely recognized names, if even that, beyond small, remnant, devotional sects of the here and now. That, I think, will be the fate of Osama bin Laden in the long run: a name invoked with fading echoes in the decades to come; and his glory as an icon of resistance will wane because he is, after all is said and done, nothing more than the shadow of the fool that gave him legitimacy in the first place, a fool who will, himself, wither and die on the vast world-tree of history.
The Dark Wraith just wishes the future without the idiot and his shadow would hurry up and get here.
"The Dark Wraith just wishes the future without the idiot and his shadow would hurry up and get here."
Perhaps it has already "been and gone". There's a discussion entitled
'We have broken speed of light' at the Signs-of-the-Times forum.
Excellent discussion between the DW and Lisa Ranger.
However there is a tangential remark in the Professors reply I would like to draw cautionary attention to:
“Early Christians (unlike their modern counterparts) were almost entirely dedicated to prognostication; modern radical Islamicists (like their modern radical Christian counterparts) believe very much in the agency of their own works in bringing about conflagration predicate to dominance in a new world order that favors their own.”
I am not an authority on Islamic eschatology and cannot speak to that. But I do have a fundamentalist / evangelical Christian background, and am therefore personally and directly acquainted with the general beliefs and thinking, and have also been a thorough reader of the New Testament, and so have a fairly sound understanding of its contents. As such, I think there is a problem in the phrasing of the quote above regarding the Christian beliefs. It is my experience, observation and understanding that virtually all modern day Christian’s eschatological beliefs are still merely prognosticative. The New Testament scriptures do not instruct adherents to do anything to bring about End of Time or any other conflagrations of any kind. Indeed, the sum total weight of the ethical teachings of the New Testament are entirely to the opposite effect, i.e. “love thy neighbor”, “seek peace”, “do as Jesus did”, etc. The general, and overwhelming Christian understanding of end-time prophecy is that the tide of events will be self driven, or the direct result of the “evilness” of the times. The vast majority of Christians, whether Republican or Democrat, or none-of-the-above, see their duty to be simply to carry on the best they can, come hell or high water. Do they fully live up to the Christian ideals? Most of them know they don’t. While many will see current events as following a prophetic narrative leading up to The End, I have never encountered ANYONE who thinks it their duty to go kill A-rabs for Jesus, in order to “make it happen”.
You did use the qualifier “radical”, and of course there are regrettable occurrences of deluded and deranged fanatics with crazy beliefs. There are some really creepy televangelists who are “Wolves in Sheep clothing”, and do beguile the foolish. But their teachings are so contrary to the N.T. that they should be roundly disregarded and denounced as the pernicious frauds they are. Unfortunately they do draw audiences of the simple and impressionable. Fortunately, even those audiences largely stop short of full blown fanaticism. OTOH, I recognize there are a sizable number of conservative Christians (but still far short of all or even most) who have either been conned by the NeoCon agenda or who hold patriotic, nationalistic sentiments, such as “support the troops”. [Yet few of them, if any, would consider it God’s will for them to kill outside of the context of patriotic military duty.] For these people, they are duped not because of genuine Christian beliefs, but rather because they have a weak, quasi-Christian Calvinistic confusion of the teachings of Jesus amalgamated with the Judaic confabulations of the Old Testament. They have yet to grok the simple meaning of the Sermon on the Mount – that the old teachings of “the Law” (the Pentateuch) are now superceded by the Spirit of Christ, which is love.
I see no reason to think that Osama Bin Laden lived to see the year 2001.
All we have since then are scratchy audiotapes and a video that looks like it has a stand in for his part.
And why in this day and age would an audio tape be scratchy? Was it copied from an Edison Cylinder? Any dictating recorder from Walmart has perfect clarity.
Never mind the idiot that told me that video cameras don't work in caves...
Good mornong, All and Sundry.
Weaseldog: And why in this day and age would an audio tape be scratchy?
I seem to recall reading that the IRS was still working with DOS on their workstations. Who's to say what type of antiquated recording medium the CIA/DOD might have been forced to use to tape their prisoner/accomplice/unwitting dupe and his 'call to arms'?
Again, I respectfully demur on the topic of hastening the end times and all the other altogether apocryphal stuff. (Though it's all apocryphal, when looked at as being the commentary of men written 200+ years after Jesus' death.)
The Crusades--a term GWB resurrected early in the Iraq enagagement--are a shining example. Praise the lord, and pass the ammunition. I believe Christians suffer a dichotomy, left as they are with both the meek lamb and the warrior image, as their leader was similarly riven.
To DW: You mean Osama will not one day be featured on a video case at Target, like Che recently was?
Good morning, Mr Wraith.
Perhaps it is so that the greater portion of vexation and fluster acceded to al-Qaeda could be expeditiously laid to rest by requiring the issuance of an IPO. With such a profusion of subsidiaries, it is well past time for al-Qaeda to go public.
It would then be an administrative issue. After insuring the safety of imported products, and righting the mortgage crisis, rules could be established for terrorist outfits that strictly observe supply-side economics.
Certainly, nothing bars terrorism from being good for the economy. It spurs tourism, creates demand for goods (weaponry, aircraft, etc) and services (fake IDs, funerals, etc.). If it can be found to be profitable, surely the Republicans would be among its most stringent advocates.
Once al-Qaeda goes public, it will only be a matter of time until Murdoch controls a significant interest. The benefit of this would be that we could receive the dead-horse news report of terrorism before it occurs, somewhat similar to extending the baseball season so that the series is in October, but operating in the reverse.
ps: Although it was my intent to post the above comment entirely in interpretive dance, my efforts in this endeavor were severely hampered by the use of the qwerty keyboard.
The Man still keeping me down.
Damn The Man!
(both of those posts were funny as hell, PT)
If al-Queda goes public, they will face ready made competition from the Iranian Guard, which word has it, already has an extensively developed network of business investments and interests. From the sounds of it, this versatile organization serves as a veritable multinational corporation, superstructure of a political establishment, national defense military, and now terrorist organization as well. Gee, I wonder where they learned all that from??
Anyway, with such ominous enemies as this coming into focus, no wonder the priority has shifted away from OBL. Why keep playing frustrating whack-a-mole games with a non-state phantom who hasn't mustered anything more spectacular in the last few years than an occasional scratchy propaganda recording. Now here is a real honest to evilness full state entity just ASKING fer a likkin. Good ol' shock'n'awe war porn is so much more gratifying than cat and mouse games. Heck, they even have known nuklear development sites, that need taken out int the worst way. Yes sir, a 'real' job for a real 21st century 'John Wayne' America.
Besides, the theme song was already written over a quarter century ago.
Here's a link to the CIA audio archives.
This is just ridiculous.
The last thing we need is for a couple of new, enormous, multi-national business entitities to go public and eventually over-extend themselves so far that the Republicans feel compelled to bail them out.
Dear God, what a mess! I can see it now:
The Federal Reserve infused one trillion dollars into the banking system today to ensure liquidity in the face of the mounting crisis over bad loans held by China, al-Qa'ida, and the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Talks are underway about a merger of the three entities that would create planet-spanning multi-national corporation producing cheap terrorist weapons that could then be sold around the world to local insurgent movements that desperately need everything from guns to weapons 'o mass destruction.
Market analysts say such a receivership merger would be a win-win for everybody: malcontents worldwide would have far greater access to the tools they need, while the citizens of every nation would remain safe because the Chinese manufacturing processes would produce stuff that either doesn't work as intended, or kills the terrorists with toxic chemicals used in the production process.
---- More news later here on the Dark Wraith Publishing News Network ----
The Dark Wraith should see if those guys need a consultant for this deal.
[0t] Mr Wraith
I sent you an article
We've always been at war with Eastasia
No more so than with ourselves, Weaseldog.
The Dark Wraith wonders if we'll ever get tired of beating ourselves to a pulp with our hubris.
If we do tire of the hubris, we can just switch over to full frontal idiocy, and then alternate between the two as necessary, and so thereby keep on going indefinitely.
Or I guess that's already what we've been doing for quite some time.
Consulting for the bad guys!!? No, Dr. Wraith, NO! Don't lose your way!!
Never fear, Zipperhead...by the time DW's done with dotting all the tees and crossing his eyes, He will have transformed the venture into the largest Masonic lodge in the whole dadblamed Middle East!
"In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order."
Carl Jung (1875-1961), Swiss psychiatrist. Collected Works, vol. 9,
So you think that's impressive? It's a shame Carl didn't understand psychology the way experts today do; someone like Tom Cruise.
Maybe we'd all be preparing a landing pad instead of killing each other.
Wooooo! - Curly Howard
"For a good time call shaniqua"
Anytime: (na na fo-fi fo fo fi), mensroom, Jonny's Tap
Be careful, trog! You may be perceived as sexist here and some of the gals might think nasty thoughts of things to do to you!
Thanks, Father Tyme, though I don't see why they would. In any case...I'll get over it.
I think it's tyme for a holiday open thread! We need to blow off some steam from the events of the last 2 weeks.
Open the back door, fire up the grill on the porch and heat them there doggies and burgers!
I"ll bring the keg.
Hey Padre, maybe you and I should help DW grade some tests, give him some free time.
I'm sure our helpful suggestions in the margins will be well appreciated.
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