F_0022431_18485 - THEWORLDTODAY.ORG JUNE 2011 PAGE 10 Defence Policy Claire Yorke John Maynard Keynes once wrote when the facts change I change my

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PAGE 10 Defence Policy Claire Yorke | INDEPENDENT THINKING ON INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS THEWORLDTODAY.ORG JUNE 2011 Narrative Shift John Maynard Keynes once wrote: “when the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” The recent death of Osama bin Laden on May 1 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, has prompted a reassessment of the facts regarding the west’s fight against international terrorism and its involvement in Afghanistan and the wider region.
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t HE ACHIEVEMENT OF A KEY mission objective is a fillip for the United States (US) who has sought his capture for over a decade, and it will have an effect on US and British strategy and policy towards both the region and international terrorism. However, his death does not lessen the threat of al Qaeda, nor does it much alter the situation on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As the west moves into the post-bin Laden era, it is the political and public narrative – the explanation and articulation of policy decisions - which is most likely to change. Political and military leaders in the US and Britain will need to reframe existing objectives in Afghanistan, the continued threat from al Qaeda, and the new opportunities which have been presented in order to provoke and prolong support among increasingly apathetic and uncertain domestic populations. For over ten years Osama bin Laden has been the figurehead of international Islamic-inspired terrorism. He was the mastermind behind 9/11 in the US and 7/7 in Britain, while behind the scenes he continued to control a vast network of terrorist activity. Despite the diffuse nature of al Qaeda - an umbrella organisation for a wide array of grievances, political agendas and ideologies in the name of Islam rather than a single coherent entity - it was his name and his image which fronted the global brand. He was the clear enemy and target: an objective set up for government leaders, policymakers and military chiefs to meet. His demise means the campaign loses a strategic target. This symbolic achievement may be exactly the political lifeline needed by those seeking to extricate themselves from a seemingly endless and intractable problem. Both the myth and rhetoric surrounding his persona have been policy and media constructs, part of tendency, evident in the three most prominent military campaigns of the past ten years, to find a ‘fall guy’. From Saddam Hussein in Iraq to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, all have been a key figure against whom to rally support and popular opinion through the creation of a threatening ‘other’. Yet, is this an essential part of the justification for foreign interventions? Is the personification of a campaign necessary for a narrative to encourage support rather than more expansive goals? Would the US, Britain and their allies have gone into Afghanistan with an argument that it was solely for humanitarian objectives? Would the rationale of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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F_0022431_18485 - THEWORLDTODAY.ORG JUNE 2011 PAGE 10 Defence Policy Claire Yorke John Maynard Keynes once wrote when the facts change I change my

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