Bin Laden’s Geopolitical Significance, Essay Example

The role of bin Laden in recent American political history is that of the enemy: much like in the Cold War’s threat of world communism, bin Laden, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, represents the threat of world terrorism. But clearly terrorism has its own political history: it is not a spontaneous outburst of violence. Terrorism is a political tactic: terrorist activities are themselves an intervention into the geopolitical order. Bin Laden is thus a “creature of circumstances”, representative of political actors with precise political grievances, such as the presence of the U.S. military in Saudi Arabia, the latter being the site of some of Islam’s most significant religious sites, and the unquestioned American support of Israel, despite clear human rights violations practiced by the Israelis against the Palestinians. Bin Laden becomes a symbol Islamic world that in a certain sense feels it is under siege by America.

Clearly, this feeling is not a sentiment shared by the governments of many Muslim countries, who work openly with the U.S. Despite bin Laden’s Saudi origins and the fact that most 9-11 terrorists were Saudis, Saudi Arabia is one of the staunchest allies of the U.S.. Accordingly, a movement such as al-Qaeda exists because of a failure of Muslim political governments to address the concerns of their citizens.

In this regard, it is important to note that bin Laden used to work for the CIA in Afghanistan, when the main geopolitical opponent of the U.S. was the U.S.S.R. Now, against the Syrian government, as acknowledged by Hillary Clinton[1], the U.S. is once again funding terrorists associated with al-Qaeda and the Wahabi extremist movement from Saudi Arabia to overthrow the Assad government. The U.S. has thus used terrorist organizations as ally or enemy following the geopolitical situation.

Works Cited

Chossudovsky, Michel and Cunnigham, Finian. “Clinton Admits US on Same Side as Al Qaeda to Destabilise Assad Government”,, February 12, Retrieved 29 September 2013 at:

[1] Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunnigham, “Clinton Admits US on Same Side as Al Qaeda to Destabilise Assad Government”,, February 12, 2012.