At Slate this week, Christopher Hitchens uses his gift for tart summing up to give the following obituary to Osama bin Laden:
It seems thinkable that he truly believed his own mad propaganda, often adumbrated on tapes and videos, especially after the American scuttle from Somalia. The West, he maintained, was rotten with corruption and run by cabals of Jews and homosexuals. It had no will to resist. It had become feminized and cowardly. One devastating psychological blow and the rest of the edifice would gradually follow the Twin Towers in a shower of dust. Well, he and his fellow psychopaths did succeed in killing thousands in North America and Western Europe, but in the past few years, their main military triumphs have been against such targets as Afghan schoolgirls, Shiite Muslim civilians, and defenseless synagogues in Tunisia and Turkey. Has there ever been a more contemptible leader from behind, or a commander who authorized more blanket death sentences on bystanders?
More contemptible? Perhaps not. But George Bush comes to mind as similarly contemptible. He’s another example of the type (someone who led people “from behind” and authorized “blanket death sentences on bystanders”).
So let’s not get too smug and self-righteous here.
But Hitchens’s point is still well taken. Osama bin Laden hiding in the bosom of a nuclear power—and apparently with the knowledge of at least some elements of Pakistan’s military—is a darn good example of a civilian-casualty-indifferent “leader from behind.”
Here’s how Hitchens concludes his obituary:
The martyr of Abbottabad is no more, and the competing Führer-complexes of his surviving underlings will perhaps now enjoy an exciting free rein.
And those new would-be Führers have their eyes on the prize: Pakistan’s 60-100 nuclear weapons. Osama bin Laden’s discovery in the bosom of Pakistan should be a wake up call to how close Pakistan is to flipping wholly over to al Qaeda, not a signal for therapeutic closure.
And let’s not forget Iran. Osama bin Laden was just one head on a nuclear weapons seeking hydra.