Juan Cole: Obama and the end of Al-Qaeda Part 2 of 2

This is part two of a two-part series from Juan Cole’s Informed Comment on the history of Usama Bin-Laden, the meaning of his death and its possible impact on Al-Qaeda. Part one was posted here Monday night. --fb

By Juan Cole

Usama Bin Laden wanted to see the (Middle Eastern) region’s dictatorship overthrown in favor of his renewed Islamic Caliphate. It was a crackpot, fringe, pipe dream, but he brought to the aspiration all the experiences and training he and his men had learned during the Reagan Jihad against the Soviets. Then he and his number two man, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, came to the conclusion that the reason they could not overthrow the governments of Egypt (Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship) and Saudi Arabia and so forth was that these were backed by the United States.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who says he has no regrets for his decisions

They decided it had been a mistake to hit the “near enemy” first. They decided to hit the “far enemy” on American soil. Bin Laden thought that if only he could entice the US into the Middle East, he could do to it what he thought he had done to the Soviet Union. Hence the horrific attacks on the US of September 11, 2001.

It was those attacks that created Informed Comment. I started it in spring of 2002 initially to cover al-Qaeda and to present analysis about how to defeat it. Like all Americans, I was personally devastated by September 11. I was depressed for a year. I felt it in distinctive ways because I had lived nearly 10 years in the Greater Middle East. Most of that time I was a student or, later on, academic researcher. But although I studied history, I was living in the present. I had been in Egypt in the late 1970s when Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad began becoming notorious. I lived in Pakistan off and on in the early 1980s and went up to Peshawar and talked with Mujahidin.

I supported the first phase of the Afghanistan War, which involved a light Western footprint in that country. There were 40 al-Qaeda training camps, which produced thousands of potential terrorists, and if they had not been destroyed they would have gone on manufacturing threats to the US. I discovered that there was a lot of good information on the Arabic internet about al-Qaeda, and I paraphrased the reports I thought significant.


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Two approaches to tarot — and why it’s tricky reading for yourself

Note: Part two of Juan Cole’s article was delayed by a technical glitch last night. It will publish tonight at 6:00 pm EDT. – amanda

Editor’s Note: If you want to experiment with tarot cards and don’t have any, we provide a free tarot spread generator using the Celtic Wings spread, which is based on the traditional Celtic Cross spread. This article tells you how to use the spread. You can visit Sarah’s website here. –efc

By Sarah Taylor

The Weekend Tarot Reading this past Sunday sparked two very interesting discussion threads in the comments section, which I’d like to expand on a little here.

Ace of Wands - Tarot de Marseille by Camoin and Jodorowsky

Ace of Wands from the Camoin-Jodorowsky Tarot, a restored version of the Marseille Tarot.

The first concerns the purpose of a tarot reading: what is it there to achieve? The short answer to that is that it depends on the intention of the tarot reader and (if applicable) the client. There are as many reasons to do the reading as there are intentions, and it would be an impossible task to list each permutation. However, I’d like to focus on two of those approaches — the two that were raised in the comments section of this week’s reading — namely: a) working with tarot as a form of divination, and b) working with tarot as a therapeutic tool.

Tarot as divination

According to Princeton’s WordNet site, one of the definitions of divination — and the one I’m choosing to use here — is “a prediction uttered under divine inspiration”. The word “prediction” implies something that is future-based, and I would expand on this to include the present as well. In other words, it is the use of divine inspiration to look at possibilities, both present and future, that might otherwise remain hidden.

I think it’s a fair assumption to make that most people are more familiar with tarot as a divination tool than with any other kind of tarot work. Tarot as divination forms the basis of my own professional readings, and it is probably the most sought-after form of reading that there is.

There is something compelling about being given the opportunity to experience those landscapes — inner and outer — that evade our five senses. It can enlighten; it can give a sense of meaning; it can help us to feel that we are in control; it can be an escape from playing the central role in our own lives and from assuming responsibility for our decisions. All of these are reasons to seek out a tarot reader and I try not to judge any of them, knowing full-well that all of these motivations have been my own at some point in the past.

However, I’m not interested in discussing motive today as much as I am in process: what is happening when tarot is being used as a divinatory tool? What goes on with the tarot reader? An explanation that fits my experience more than anything else is the one that I referred to briefly in the comments section of this week’s reading, and which I first came across in the book On Becoming an Alchemist by Catherine MacCoun.

To use the writer’s analogy in the context of tarot (and if there are any deviations from her intended meaning, I offer my apologies in advance): when we divine, we are bringing meaning down from above. We ascend the vertical, commune with the wisdom that is there, and then we come back to the horizontal, translating that message into words. This is where the idea of “getting out of the way” really comes into its own. As divine interpreters, for want of a better phrase, it is our job to ensure that the message is delivered as closely to its source form as possible. When we do, we are able to give the client what it is that they were looking for: meaning, in whatever form it chooses to make itself known.

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PlanetWaves FM — 9/11 and Osama, Beyond Orthodoxy

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Dear Friend and Reader:

Good Wednesday morning from New York.

How you feel about the murder/assassination of Osama bin Laden depends on who you think he was. If you believe there is such a thing as the ‘personification of evil’ you might be really happy. If you think he was the ‘mastermind’ of the Sept. 11 attacks (there seems to be a new one of those turning up every few years) then you might feel a sense of closure — especially if you lost a loved one in whatever happened that day.

Yet there exist significant questions about what happened Sept. 11, and in our gloating about the assassination of bin Laden, I suggest we remember those, and keep them in mind — particularly anyone celebrating the death of someone they did not know personally, and know very little about historically.

Here is the the podcast, in the old player. The old player includes a full archive of my podcasts, by the way. That’s where we keep them.

In today’s edition, I mention an article called Were it So, from 2002. Here is that article. And here is bin Laden’s wanted poster from the FBI’s website. Please note — he is not wanted for the Sept. 11 attacks. Read it (it’s short) and you’ll notice it’s missing. There was not enough evidence of his involvement to mention that.

Eric Francis

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Astrology Today: The Oracle for Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today’s Oracle takes us to the Gemini monthly of Oct. 1, 2005

The Oracle.

Miracles happen, though they often take a form different than we were expecting. Whatever shape or color the current divine gesture arrives in, I propose that you’re safe trusting, and allowing the situation to unfold. Remember that you’re not dealing with the kind of power imbalance that you’ve become accustomed to for so long. I cannot emphasize this point enough. In fact, you’re subject to neither the whims nor the influences of others at the moment, and are free to follow a calling that is obviously bigger and more glorious than anyone around you currently recognizes. In order to be free, you actually need to act as if you are free. Otherwise, it’s just another philosophical concept. The get real moment the world is experiencing arrives as particularly vivid for you, and what you may be experiencing as fear you certainly make up for in vision.

(The Daily Oracle is a random selection from one of 10,000 Eric Francis horoscopes. New horoscopes by Eric are published weekly plus twice a month in Planet Waves Astrology News and Planet Waves Light. The Oracle itself is a divination tool available to subscribers to either of these services.)

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On the Chirping of Little Birds

May 1, 2011. Photo by Eric Francis.

You and I felt it Sunday night.  For that split second in time, when the cool voice of President Obama pronounced those words, we found ourselves in a profound moment of disbelief. Usama bin Laden — dead. Staying up late, we watched the streets of Times Square in New York and in front of the White House erupt in jubilance at the announcement of bin Laden’s death at the hands of the United States military’s special ops team, the Navy SEALs. As we watched, there was a strange feeling of having been excised of a very large malignancy on our nation’s psyche – one we have been living with for so long that it had become part of our cultural expression.

I’m not sure if I know what else to feel at the news of bin Laden’s death, except maybe sensing his removal from the planet as an amputee experiences a ghost limb. If you were like me, and you remembered the same kind of jubilation and dancing on the streets ten years ago in an unnamed Islamic country — a celebration (real or not) of the downing of the World Trade Center in New York — you probably experienced true visceral recoil watching those celebrations in New York and Washington. We see into the young faces of those celebrants caught in a screen shot by Eric posted above. The dancing in the streets and the waving of flags to some of those young people meant that the boogeyman Usama bin Laden — a real Freddie Kruger from a real ”Nightmare on Elm Street” – was finally no more. It looked unconscious to me. College students partying for the purpose of blowing off steam from finals.

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Update on Fukushima

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Happy Taurus New Moon

Cannonball Adderly with his brother Nat and DJ Rick Holmes, from “Soul Zodiac.” This is a shorter version of “Taurus” — the original is 13 minutes long. I hope you’re as amused as I was. – amanda

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