As a pacifist I have to say that Osama bin Laden’s call for negotiations cannot be ignored. He offered them before to Europe and now specifically to the US. What can be lost in negotiations? If he is sincere fine; if not, well the war would continue. Since his last message on 27 December 2004, people thought he may have died or was injured but Al Qaeda is alive and apparently willing to engage in a truce to end the war. The US negotiates with North Korea and why not with Al Qaeda? Do neoconservative warmongers have any capacity to get their fill of war and destruction? How many soldiers’s lives could be spared potentially with peace talks? What would Dr King do in this instance: Dismiss the offer and call them terrorists who should be killed or attempt conflict resolution? I am sure he would prefer that adversaries find means of conflict resolution and respect each other’s humanity.
A nation, a strong nation, such as the US can afford to negotiate with anyone. Peace through killing is elusive; peace through compromise while perhaps arduous and difficult, is preferable to violence. I do not like his threats of more attacks in the US. Yet we are at war and the US homeland cannot be considered off limits to an adversary which encounters 150,000 troops at a minimum in several countries.
Will the US press merely focus on its authenticity, speculate on bin Laden’s physical condition, the timing of the audiotape and merely parrot the Bush administration’s immoral and vicious policy: “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” Well then how is this war going to stop? I am impressed that bin Laden is offering an olive branch. Will the US step on it and continue to kill and be killed in Iraq and Afghanistan? This is why I am so skeptical of US motives. We are in a war, we are losing the war, our adversary is offering to negotiate and there is utter reluctance.
The following is the text of the excerpts aired by Aljazeera television from a new audiotape purportedly from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The excerpts were translated from the Arabic by The Associated Press.
“My message to you is about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how to end them. I did not intend to speak to you about this because this issue has already been decided. Only metal breaks metal, and our situation, thank God, is only getting better and better, while your situation is the opposite of that.
But I plan to speak about the repeated errors your President Bush has committed in comments on the results of your polls that show an overwhelming majority of you want the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. But he (Bush) has opposed this wish and said that withdrawing troops sends the wrong message to opponents, that it is better to fight them (bin Laden’s followers) on their land than their fighting us (Americans) on our land.
I can reply to these errors by saying that war in Iraq is raging with no let-up, and operations in Afghanistan are escalating in our favor, thank God, and Pentagon figures show the number of your dead and wounded is increasing not to mention the massive material losses.
And so to return to the issue, I say that results of polls please those who are sensible, and Bush’s opposition to them is a mistake. The reality shows that the war against America and its allies has not been limited to Iraq as he (Bush) claims. Iraq has become a point of attraction and restorer of (our) energies. At the same time, the mujahideen (holy warriors), with God’s grace, have managed repeatedly to penetrate all security measures adopted by the unjust allied countries. The proof of that is the explosions you have seen in the capitals of the European nations who are in this aggressive coalition. The delay in similar operations happening in America has not been because of failure to break through your security measures. The operations are under preparation and you will see them in your homes the minute they are through (with preparations), with God’s permission.
Based on what has been said, this shows the errors of Bush’s statement — the one that slipped from him — which is at the heart of polls calling for withdrawing the troops. It is better that we (Americans) don’t fight Muslims on their lands and that they don’t fight us on ours.
We don’t mind offering you a long-term truce on fair conditions that we adhere to. We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat. So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war. There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America who have supported Bush’s election campaign with billions of dollars.”