On the death of Bin Laden

I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the whole sordid story.

23 Responses to “ On the death of Bin Laden ”

Comment by Sara

Apart from being stoneage-like, “justice is done” is kind of cynical. I mean how many people died 9/11 compared to just one terrorist? Maybe Obama counts also all the war victims and unconvicted tortured people in his primitive “justice” calculation.

Comment by Matthew

I was uncomfortable with the thought he was ‘executed’ by the troops. The military should never be involved in ‘justice’ in my view. However, in thi case if he was taken alive then we’d have hostages taken and threats within days. Guess I’d compromise my morals to avoid that which is probably the decision taken.

Wouldn’t be totally surprised if he was taken alive tho. I certainly wouldn’t tell the world if that’s what had happened.

Comment by Ryan

They’re definitely no friend of ours, just like Saudi Arabia. Both countries (or shouldI say governments?) have been supporting terrorist groups for years.

Comment by Matt Wilcox

I can understand the Pakistan issues because they’re largely out of American hands, and politics is politics – but the one thing that they were in complete control of was whether to bring him back dead or alive. And I can not understand how they ended up with “dead”. Practically or philosophically. Practically, as you say, how can it be that one man taken by surprise can’t be incapacitated non-lethally by 20 of the best trained fighters in the world, fully equipped and with a complete plan of attack? And as for philosophically:

Justice – as far as it can be taken in such circumstances – is supposed to be about trials, fair representation, and holding yourself up to the standards you hold dear when dealing with those who you most dislike. All America did here was create a martyr and show the world that they don’t believe in due-process when a quick bullet will do to satisfy instead.

I hate the reaction of the media too. Boiling down complicated issues into basic emotional bullshit. All that does is foster ignorance and hatred. There is a good reason why these people are doing the things they are, and it would help everyone to realise that even the extremists aren’t cardboard cut out movie villains. They have a belief in an agenda where we are the bad guys. We should be asking why.

Related: http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_richards_a_radical_experiment_in_empathy.html

Comment by Chris Marsh

You’re right, the celebrations outside the White House were very strange. If the tables were turned, and Americans saw Iraqis dancing in the streets to celebrate the death of a US soldier, they would decry it as barbaric and uncivilised.

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King Jr

Comment by Jared

I largely agree with you. I do think, however, that the world would be MUCH less safe if he were now alive, but in US custody. That would give his supporters much to fight for. In this case, I’m relieved that he’s just as dead as the thousands he murdered.

The line between revenge and justice is pretty thin when you’re at war. Justice is not done, and it never will be in this case, but it’s been partly served. I know of very few here that celebrated or gloried in his death. For me, it was a sigh of relief that perhaps we’re one step closer to getting our troops and some of our rights back.

Comment by Julia

Can’t add much to this, except to say that the original post, reflects very pretty my views and those of people I have discussed this with … this was idiotic, lawless, behaviour which is NOT going to make the world a safer place, but most likely the opposite.

Comment by Ryan

Do people really think there was ever the consideration of taking him alive?

First of all taking him alive would be one massive pain in the arse for all involved. Second the opportunity to say you’re the guy who shot Osama is just far too great, even if it’s against orders I doubt anything would happen to the person responsible.

There was never any chance he’d be taken alive and it’s probably for the better he wasn’t.

Comment by Michael Beckwith

The more things unravel and as we keep going on, the more sceptical I am of the whole thing. Especially with apparently taking care of the body already and not providing any photographic evidence(as easy as it is to digitally manufacture). I have also been saying, at least to myself, that his apparent death is nowhere near the end of the road with this “war on terrorism”. I akin him being the public figure and not so much the cornerstone that would cause everything to fall if removed. He’s just the face everyone associates.

Comment by Stan

I find it ironic that people who have literally no idea about US policy, or even lived in the USA during 9/11, start bashing the US for their actions! This was not an act of ‘revenge’, but a symbolic act to the world to show that US will never give up, and that if you cross them, you will eventually end up paying the price.

Bin Laden was a WAR CRIMINAL, and he should be treated as such. Period. He is no better than Hitler, or other murderous dictators throughout history. If you don’t accept this statement, then you might as well go on denying the holocaust. He is the face of Al-Qaeda not because of his pretty face, but because he is one of their most respected and powerful men.

The world is much safer now that he is gone. The Taliban are demoralized. Sure, there will still be some supporters and loyalists, as with every ‘army’, but a majority will desert.

Comment by Bruce

Stan

The nazis were put on trial at Nuremberg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Trials rather than summarily executed.

Personally, I see Western democracy as preferable to a fascist Islamist state precisely because of things like rule of law, presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the right to a fair trial and so on. Presumably you dislike such niceties?

Comment by Ryan

Stan if the world is much safer why are we STILL being told to live in fear and keep vigilant of more terrorist threats? Iraq is a worse place and Afghanistan is no better. We’ve had our freedoms, which I assume you value, stripped and stomped upon by our so called governments.

Also what are your thoughts, if any, on the million plus people killed as a result of this merry chase after OBL?

Comment by Stan

@Bruce

I agree with you that I prefer the rule of law, presumption of innocence until proven guilty, etc.

You just have to look at the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was captured alive years ago, and there is still debate what to do with him. It’s hard to find a fair jury for him, departments have fought where he should be prosecuted, and on how many charges, etc. It has been a headache, wasting lots of time, money, that should have been spent elsewhere. He should have been tried quickly, but instead politics came around and threw everything into a mess.

The trend I see is that Europeans are not too thrilled about this action, while Americans are extremely elated and satisfied. One quote I found insightful reading stories about this:

Justin Vaïsse: “Nine-eleven happened there, not here. Europeans don’t understand why people would rejoice at ground zero, while it seems relatively easy to understand that in the United States.”

So to answer your question, it’s not as black and white as you want it to be. It is a combination of symbolism with politics, and probably more things that I’m not aware of. I see that most European media is bashing this action, so I don’t expect you to understand American point of views.

@Ryan

I’m not sure you understand what you are talking about. If you think that killing any single member of a terrorist organization is going to turn everything into a Green Zone then you should go to a psychiatrist. I’m afraid to bring up any more examples because you will spend hours browsing the internet trying to find a law for that too.

Relatively speaking, the most influential terrorist organization has suffered a devastating blow. Can we predict how we react? No. Is there a chance they will fade away? Yes.

Comment by Stan

I also want to add that between all the differences between the US and Europe, for Europe to critique us so much for handling of this tyrant is quite Insulting. I just want to clarify that I don’t think Bin Laden deserved to die without a trial, but I certainly have no issues about how he was handled. I have more issues about other world issues, other MORE IMPORTANT issues and rifts. But instead, let’s just rip the US military. If you walk up to a family member who was affected by 9/11 and tell them this, why will most definitely be more pronounced.

Comment by Ryan

Stan,

Let me get this straight, you think we should be thankful for a more dangerous world, hundreds of thousands of people dead due to two pointless wars, trillions of dollars wasted? It took 10 years to find one single man who ended up being found in an allied country where he’d been living for 6 years).

Comment by Matt Wilcox

Stan – I think you’re seeing agression where there isn’t any. This post and all it’s comments have been rational questioning that any responsible member of a properly functioning democracy does. The role of good citizens isn’t to buy into government rhetoric or to stand by every action their government makes. It’s to question whether the governments action was right. Questioning means posing uncomfortable or opposing viewpoints.

It stops societies from blindly making massive mistakes, because it’s a natural check and balance. It’s also the role of a properly functioning individual to realise that opposing viewpoints are every bit as valid as your own. And not be insulted by them. Insult comes from ego, and ego is never a good thing to bring to a relationship of any sort.

Comment by Matt Wilcox

@Stan As for Europe’s “ability to understand”, please try and use a little empathy. Your nation has been invaded/attacked directly precisely twice in it’s entire history. Only once within living memory. Europe has endured invasions and attacks on homeland for thousands of years. Britain as recently as the London train bombings, and before that for decades under terrorist attacks from the IRA. We are very familiar with what it’s like to lose loved ones on home territory by the hands of terrorists. That’s no justification for “elation” in the death of a man, and nor has that sort of public reaction happened in Europe.

Comment by Stan

@Ryan

Now you’re assuming that I support the wars? I don’t. I really disapprove of them. Let’s not put words in my mouth. I think we can both agree on that.

@Matt

I agree with you. I went over the top there about European reactions. If you really think about, having a trail with Bin Laden would have lasted for years, to say the last. Just look at what’s happening to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Millions of dollars wasted to figure out how to prosecute him. Is that legal incompetence? Politics? I bet both. But personally, I’m glad that we don’t have an encore of that coming.

As to expressing my “elation”, I have every right to do so. So does anybody. I won’t congratulate or begrudge anyone who does. As long as it does not infringe on my rights or others, I can be as elated as I want to.

Comment by Matt Wilcox

@Stan

That’s cool, anyone can get a bit over-passionate about stuff that matters to them :)

It’s my personal opinion that America prides itself on values of fairness, justice for all, due process, and being a leading example of “doing what’s right”. Those are all good things, but they’re also hard to live up to. Again, it’s my opinion that in taking the action that Obama did – it’s not the best reflection of those values. Not the worst either, but for me I think it may have been handled better. And you’re right, putting Osama on trial would have been all of those things. But my counterpoint is that as expensive as that would have been, in money, in time, in whatever measure – that expense would be a drop in the ocean compared to what’s already been invested in the effort to capture him. Trillions of dollars. So, i find the argument of saving money, or time, is fairly weak. True, but weak. I think America’s reputation would have benefited greatly if other action had been taken, as it would have been seen to live up to it’s own standards better.

As for expressing elation – of course you have that right, no one would argue about taking it from you. Freedom of expression is a fundamental tennant not just of America but of Europe too. Likewise, I find that reaction distasteful – and I expect the same respect and tolerance of that viewpoint as you do to yours. For me, executing one man and rejoicing in it is both morally reprehensible and very short-sighted. Understandable, but non-the-less ugly.

Comment by Adam C

Whereas taking Bin Laden alive would be the ideal scenario for some I personally believe that it was too dangerous for him to live. Can you imagine the number of civilian and military targets that would be at risk…one can easily imagine a buses and planes full of people being boarded by armed men, the ransom demand being that Bin Laden be freed. It would never end.

The “threat” will never end. But I guess that’s the point. It’s good for business in a capitalist world. The military can continue their spending, companies can sell their security products and this whole cycle of never ending war against a very ill-defined enemy can continue in the name of your safety. And I’m not suggesting that this is a new tactic, I’m sure it’s something that has gone on for years…some enemies are easier to define (and are thus easier to garner public support) than others.

Comment by Adam C

One additional point. When the military of a foreign power can simply stroll in and asassinate an unarmed person without even informing the host nation then it spells bad things for us all; your freedom is no longer guaranteed or held sacred by anyone. So from whom do you feel least safe? The line between “good” and “bad” guys has blurred forever.