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Osama Bin Laden and his Latest Message: George W Bush and the US Missed a Tremendous Opportunity

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December 7th, 1941, at 7:55am Japanese Dive and Torpedo bombers and fighters show up in the skies over Oahu and Pearl Harbor. No war has been declared, no warning has been provided [in fact, a vague hint of a warning was intended to have been delivered by the time of the attack, but decoding and other diplomatic red tape delayed its delivery]. By the time the attack was over, a full two hours later, over 2400 Americans lay dead and the bulk of the US Pacific Fleet was at the bottom of the harbor. Only three hours later, the Japanese struck at American installations in the Philippines in an attack that lasted over 20 full hours killing countless more. A little over four months later, the Japanese completed the conquest of the main island of the Philippines, Luzon, and marched the survivors of the defeated American and Philipino forces away from the Battan peninsula in a brutal march that came to be called "The Battan Death March." Somewhere between 5000 and 11000 valiant American and Philipino soldiers died during the 60 mile march to Camp O'Donnell where additional horrific tortures awaited the survivors.

In the wake of these and other atrocities committed by the Japanese, many of which would today be called acts of terror and were later unequivocally determined by international courts of law to be war crimes and crimes against Humanity, the allies met in Potsdam on July 26, 1945 and articulated to Japan what was required of her to end the war. This declaration can be seen in its entirety on the website of the Japanese legislature, the Diet, at

When I first heard that Osama bin Laden had delivered a new message, and that message contained an offer for a truce of some sort, I wondered what our response would be. I would have been satisfied by 99.9% of the possible responses I imagined could be given by the President. What we DID say was completely unacceptable. Here was our opportunity to tell Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, the rest of the World, and the American People what would be required of bin Laden and Al Qaeda to bring an end to the war. Here was out opportunity to fully lay out once again our differences, the issues we had with Al Qaeda and its supporters, and our vision for the Middle East and Asia Minor. We could have been as tough about it as we wanted to be. Look at the Potsdam Declaration. We were on the verge of totally annihilating the enemy, an enemy that had acted criminally on more than one occasion, but we offered a way out of war, a way that could in no way be called appeasement. Why couldn't we have done that here? I know what most people will say, the chance of Bin Laden accepting such an unconditional surrender is minute, but that isn't the point. The point is such and offer should have been made and not making it is a terrible mistake. You never know what the response might have been. It may have been a counter offer that was acceptable. There might have been no response, but the effort should have been made.

What did the administration do? They said that America does not negotiate with terrorists. Since when? Republicans set the bar for negotiating with terrorists and criminal states when they made the Iran-Contra arms for hostages embarrassment. Besides, as I have written, the response could have been similar to Potsdam. There really isn't any negotiation implied in Potsdam. Summed up, it says, "Do this or be annihilated". The administrations failure in its response to Bin Laden is disappointing and surprising. I've decided to include the entirety of the Potsdam Declaration below in this Op Ed piece because I think it is important to see what could have been done with honor and without appeasement. I encourage all who read this article to take a few minutes and read through it. I think it makes clear what a major opportunity was missed by this incompetent administration and President.

Potsdam Declaration

Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender
Issued, at Potsdam, July 26, 1945

1 We-the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

2 The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

3 The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

4 The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

5 Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

6 There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

7 Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan's war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

8 The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

9 The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

10 We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
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