Bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster

Debra J. Saunders

10/4/2001 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
The blame-America crowd has taken to calling Osama bin Laden a creature of the CIA, a horrific example of "blowback" -- the term used when trained operatives later and unexpectedly turn on their creators. Some speak as if bin Laden is the United States' own Frankenstein monster. A piece on the www.truthout.com website calls bin Laden a "monster of our own creation." On the website www.stopworldwar3.com, peacenik Noam Chomsky says that the CIA "preferred the most fanatic and cruel fighters they could mobilize" -- and then notes that bin Laden and his followers turned against America after the United States deployed troops to Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War. Yet even Chomsky admits that whether bin Laden "personally happened to have direct contact with the CIA is unclear, and not particularly important." The Independent of London's story said only that there may have been a nexus between the CIA and bin Laden. While the United States spent a reported $3 billion training and equipping the mujahedeen, CIA spokesman Bill Harlow denies that the agency ever paid, trained or equipped bin Laden. The New York Times reported that bin Laden "did not take up the rifle." He raised money and supplies for the mujahedeen before he formed his own camp of Afghan freedom fighters in 1986, a precursor to the infamous al Qaeda. Time magazine reports that while the CIA denies any direct contact with bin Laden, "U.S. officials acknowledge that some of the aid probably ended up with bin Laden's group anyway." Asked if he believes there has been blowback, the Cato Institute's defense expert Ivan Eland answered, "Partially." While some critics go too far "saying that somehow the United States invited this attack," he continued, "I do think that we probably did make the Taliban stronger, and also we made some of the people that bin Laden recruited stronger." That's hardly creating the monster. Besides, it's wrong to make the Afghan war all about America. Pakistan General Consul Toheed Ahmad bristled at the notion that the CIA created bin Laden: "It was the entire free world that was helping the Afghan resistance. It was not the CIA's war. It was the world's war against the occupation of a country by one superpower." The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was so brutal that, according to Jean-Francois Revel, author of "Why Democracies Perish," the country's population dropped by nearly 40 percent because people either left the country or were killed. When the United States doesn't step in to alleviate such atrocities in poor countries, the left charges "racism." It would be nice if the United States could avoid attachments with countries that, for example, repress women. Hope for that day. Alas, that kind of purity is a luxury America can't afford right now. The United States has to win a war against terrorists who are more than intolerant of different beliefs, they are butchers. America cannot fight this type of thug by insisting on fighting only with nice, like-minded allies. Nor can America shoulder the blame for the faults of its former associates, especially former not-quite associates. Osama bin Laden was drawn to the cause of fighting "infidels" encroaching on Islamic countries years before he had ever had any indirect ties with the CIA. The villain in this story is not any entity that may or may not have trained some al Qaeda troops. The villain is radical, oppressive Islamic extremism. For Osama bin Laden, it was homegrown.