Monday, January 09, 2006

Osama dead?

The vociferous neo-con Michael "Faster, please" Ledeen pens an interesting overview of the Middle East at NRO today. He is conjecturing that Osama bin Laden is dead:

And, according to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this world in mid-December. The al Qaeda leader died of kidney failure and was buried in Iran, where he had spent most of his time since the destruction of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Iranians who reported this note that this year's message in conjunction with the Muslim Haj came from his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for the first time.

This is the first time I am hearing this with this type of specificity. If the details are true, it would be a welcome end to a singularly odious scum and whilst we did not pull the trigger we should take solace in the fact that we hunted him to extinction - i.e., our vigilance prevented him from being able to get the treatments he required.

Ledeen contends that we are witnessing a watershed time period in the Middle East with an old generation in the process of being replaced by a new one:

Much of the demographic component of rapid change comes from the enormous disparity between leaders and people. The wizened ayatollahs of Iran, like the gerontarchs of Saudi Arabia, seek to contain the passions of a population one or two generations younger, which is probably one reason why the mullahs turned to a youngster, the fanatical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to crush all potential opposition to the Islamic republic. Most Iranians, two thirds of whom are younger than 35, do not take kindly to the white beard and beturbaned tyrants who have banned Western music and just last week began speaking of segregating the sidewalks of the country by sex; males on one side, females on the other, even as they announced the execution of a woman who dared defend herself against a rapist.

In short, both demography and geopolitics make this an age of revolution, as President Bush seems to have understood. Rarely have there been so many opportunities for the advance of freedom, and rarely have the hard facts of life and death been so favorable to the spread of democratic revolution.

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