May 4, 2011

Across Southeast Asia Bin Laden Still Lives

Throughout Southeast Asia, the alleged killing of Osama Bin Laden coupled with the delay by the United States government in releasing any photographic evidence to the fact is giving birth to a flood of conspiracy theories, with many refusing to believe that Al Qaeda's leader is actually dead.

The conspiracy theories are varied - some saying this is simply a ploy by Barack Hussein Obama to help his popularity and others saying that this is a lie meant to draw Osama Bin Laden out  -  there is however one common denominator that all these conspiracy theories have, and that is that all this is nothing more than a ginned-up story from the United States and that Osama Bid Laden still lives.

"Where is the proof?" is the common response here in Southeast Asia whenever Osama Bin Laden's demise is mentioned.  

At this point the damage is done, the photographic evidence  and/or proof of Osama Bin Laden's death should have been released immediately without this charade of conflicting stories and  an agonizing delay that has and continues to give birth to a plethora of conspiracy theories overseas - many of them that fuel anti-american sentiment overseas particularly the theory that the photos need to be altered or brushed up before they are released to the public.  This is something that could have been avoided.

For a president who should have learned a thing or two about transparency in the past few months this reflects poorly.  Obama's indecisiveness and over-concern of Muslim sensitivities displays a weakness in character that invites aggression and fuels radicalization rather than suppressing it.  What could have been a win is now becoming a loss.  It is not Osama Bin Laden's death that is going to fuel anti-american sentiment  overseas but rather the secretive circumstances surrounding it.

So what if a photo is gory, as long as the photo is recognizable of Osama Bin Laden,  the message it sends to any young jihadi wannabe is that "this is what happens to your face when you listen to Al Qaeda".   The message it sends it is a powerful message that serves as a deterrent in the same way that the gory before and after photos of meth addicts acts a deterrent to those thinking about trying methamphetamines.

The brutal death of Osama Bin Laden at the hands of American commandos could have been both a  propaganda win and a strategic win in the war on terrorism if it was played out correctly instead it will serve as perhaps one of the biggest mistakes made in the war on terrorism.

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