George on bin Laden's death

"I despise Osama Bin Laden, the mediaeval obscurantist savage. The difference is I have always despised him, even when Britain and America were giving him weapons money diplomatic and political support."

 That speech which won me the parliamentary debater of the year award was given on the recall of the commons after 9/11. Younger readers may be unaware that the Osama Bin Laden killed yesterday was once a key member of the western coalition fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. In fact one of the Rambo movies carried a dedication at it’s end saluting the “freedom fighters” he recruited and led.

It turns out that he was living a surprisingly comfortable life in a million dollar home near Islamabad where yesterday he met his end. As he had lived, by the sword, so he perished and could have had no complaints at being gunned down by Americans having inspired the slaughter of so many of them.

But though rejoicing is inevitable as always we must be careful what we wish.

If as is reported Bin Laden hadn’t even a phone line or Internet connection in his palace it’s clear that he long ago ceased to have hands on control of the network which virally proliferated around the world in his name. That this fanatic movement will continue, perhaps revitalised by his killing, is surely obvious.

And of course the swamp of bitterness and hatred out of which he and his followers mutated and climbed becomes ever deeper and more bloody. A swamp sewn by the same western powers with whom he was once in league. A swamp watered by double standards and injustice. By blanket support for the crimes committed against the Palestinian people for over sixty years. By endless occupation and bombardment of Muslim countries by western forces. And by the propping up by us of virtually every dictator who rules in the Muslim world from one end to the other.

“If our problems could only be solved by zapping this bearded turbaned Mephistopholese we would be lucky indeed,” I told my parliamentary audience a decade ago.

Zapped he now is in an operation, as reported, of which Rambo would have been proud.

But when we leave the cinematic glow of the killing of public enemy number one we will find I suspect that many more are emerging from the swamp.