. Military Space News .

Outside View: Osama's perverted legacy
by Harlan Ullman
Washington (UPI) Jun 29, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

A bullet to the brain ended Osama bin Laden's life on Earth. But, in a perverse twist of fate, his death ironically and iconically strengthened a bloody legacy to the detriment of much of the civilized world in at least three powerful ways.

First, bin Laden abetted the economic and financial misfortunes of the United States through its extravagant pursuit of the global war on terror and in the process managed to set the U.S. military on a course in which its cost was too expensive to afford.

Second, bin Laden weakened the fundamental precepts of liberal democracies by catalyzing huge infringements on civil liberties in the name of preventing future terror attacks.

Finally, by living and dying in Pakistan, bin Laden set in place a metastasizing cancer that could prove fatal to current U.S.-Pakistani relationships.

How could this happen? Answers begin on Sept. 11, 2001, and what surprised and shocked bin Laden and his colleagues after the attack. Al-Qaida had expected the remains of the Twin Towers to serve as smoking and enduring ruins to remind America of its weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Instead, the towers rapidly collapsed.

Nor did al-Qaida anticipate and even understand the huge economic and financial losses that would accrue to the markets that mounted in the trillions with disruption to banking, transportation and other business sectors that followed. Finally, bin Laden couldn't predict the American and Western response that drove him from Afghanistan after an extraordinarily short and cheap military-intelligence campaign or, more significantly, that the wars would continue for a decade.

Conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and against global terror have cost the United States, so far, upward of $1 trillion and possibly much more. That doesn't include the long-term costs of dealing with tens of thousands of veterans of those wars physically and psychologically wounded who need extended treatment and of course the expense of build downs and replacement of equipment. Defense has been one of the major contributors to the debt and deficits the United States is accumulating.

Fighting those wars has required wholesale refocusing of U.S. defense procurement and logistics that has been hideously expensive. Three striking examples drive this point home suggesting the real costs of what is called "asymmetric war. Improvised explosive devices, once known as "booby traps" have caused a majority of combat casualties. These devices cost pennies to manufacture. Yet, mine resistant vehicles to protect troops can cost $1.5 million apiece. We have tens of thousands of the latter.

Our troops today depend on bottled water and not the iodine pill in a canteen of suspect local water as their parents and grandparents did. The Pentagon reports that a gallon of bottled water transported to distant operating bases in Afghanistan runs about $800.

We depend on "unmanned aerial vehicles" known as drones to disrupt and destroy our enemies. Unmanned is oxymoronic. A total of nearly 200 people are required per drone the majority of which analyze and collect data from locations inside the United States.

Clearly, personnel and procurement are the driving costs and reflect these trends. While U.S. military might is extraordinary in its capacity, the costs are simply not sustainable regardless of economic times.

The Patriot Act in the United States and camera surveillance systems for example in the United Kingdom impose on civil liberties. Airport searches and patdowns are accepted even if of dubious constitutional standing let alone costs and questionable effectiveness. All of this is in the name of security and safety.

Bin Laden's final legacy was living and then dying in Pakistan. The shock, embarrassment and horror on the part of Pakistanis have had and will have profoundly negative impact on relations with the United States. The Pakistan army, long the only well-regarded institution in Pakistan, has likewise suffered being labeled incompetent or complicit. How this ends is tenuous at best and if not put on a solid footing will jeopardize any chance of a successful drawdown in Afghanistan.

Americans of course rejoiced in meting justice to bin Laden. Yet, few have even begun to think about dealing with his threatening legacy. Indeed, with the misnamed "Arab Spring" in disarray, the international situation is far more and not less volatile. Egypt, Libya, Yemen, the Persian Gulf states and the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict clearly are affected by these legacies and constraints on what the United States can or could do.

A cogent, clear-cut strategy is sorely needed. With pending elections in 2012 and ideological divides dominating political choices in Washington, there is no chance of this happening in either party. The United States will try to muddle through preferring band aids to necessary surgery or chemotherapy to cure the cancers that pervade the body politic.

Bin Laden is dead and that is a good thing. But who may have gotten the better end of the stick?

(Harlan Ullman is chairman of the Killowen Group, which advises leaders of government and business, and senior adviser at Washington's Atlantic Council.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

Related Links
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

Top US military officer to visit China
Beijing (AFP) June 29, 2011 - The top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen will visit China next month, Beijing said Wednesday, pledging to help improve sometimes rocky relations with Washington.

Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, will visit from July 9-13, Xinhua news agency quoted defence ministry spokesman Yang Yajun as saying. Mullen's counterpart Chen Bingde visited Washington in May.

"China will promote the advancement of relations between the two military forces under the framework of China-US ties," Xinhua quoted Yang as saying.

Yang further congratulated Leon Panetta, who was confirmed by the US Senate as the new defence secretary to replace Robert Gates, Xinhua said.

The announcement of Mullen's visit comes after the United States and the Philippines launched 11 days of joint naval exercises on Tuesday amid a simmering maritime row over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Manila and Washington emphasised the exercises were aimed at deepening defence ties, and not linked to the rising concern about China's allegedly aggressive actions in the strategic and potentially resource-rich waters.

As tensions in the South China Sea have mounted, China-US military exchanges have also quickened pace with Gates meeting Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie in Singapore in early June, following a January visit to Beijing.

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Walker's World: China's soft-power hurdle
Shanghai, China (UPI) Jun 28, 2011
The European charm offensive of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has been conducted with characteristic Chinese thoughtfulness and efficiency. During a visit to the birthplace of the bard in Stratford-upon-Avon, the British were told Shakespeare is the greatest writer of all time. Lots of carefully prepared questions from journalists about human rights and the jailing of artist Ai Weiwei wer ... read more

Raytheon gets $1.7 billion Patriot deal

Raytheon to Upgrade Patriot for Saudi Arabia

Yanukovych says 'no' to missile defense

Israelis brace for missiles, plan getaways

Iran fires medium-range missile in war game

Taiwan supersonic missile test flops

Raytheon Breaks Ground for Standard Missile Production Factory

Raytheon Delivers Patriot GEM-T Test Missiles for UAE

Pakistan tells US to leave 'drone' attack base

Selex Galileo's Gabbiano Radars Selected for Elbit Systems' UAS

Iran says it showed Russia downed US drones

Boeing Receives UCLASS Study Contract from US Navy

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Guardrail System

Russia launches Cosmos-series military satellite

Spain aims at military-civilian satellites

Network Integration Tests Aim to Reduce 'Fog of War'

Thailand, Cambodia plan to join cluster bomb ban treaty

Boeing Supports USAF Launch of Miniature Air Launched Decoy

US Army Awards Raytheon contract to Complete Excalibur Ib Development

Oshkosh to Showcase M-ATV Tactical Ambulance

Textron to Supply US Army with 65 Additional Armored Security Vehicles

Danish appeals court rejects gunrunner's India extradition

Obama says Gates a bipartisan model of 'civility'

Chavez's health an issue for arms deals

Outside View: Osama's perverted legacy

Panetta vows to keep US military 'best' in world

Commentary: Vietnam redux

Walker's World: China's soft-power hurdle

System Integration of High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator Completed

Raytheon Acquires Directed Energy Capabilities of Ktech Corporation

MLD Test Moves Navy A Step Closer To Lasers For Ship Self-Defense

US Navy And Northrop Grumman Accomplish Goals For At-Sea Demonstration Of Maritime Laser

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement