PostHeaderIcon An Unpopular View

Now that the furor over killing Osama (Usama) bin Laden is dying down a bit, perhaps it is time to reflect on what we have done.

Allow me to begin with the observation that bin Laden was an evil monster who deserved to be brought to justice. The question is: is that really what happened?

Bin Laden was nominal leader of an Islamic movement that holds the western nations, especially the United States, responsible for a modern “crusade” against Muslim nations by exploiting their resources (oil & gas), killing their citizens (via an endless series of wars), stealing their land (mostly through the creation and ongoing support of Israel), and “perverting” their culture by exposing it to western degradation.

This is a viewpoint to which bin Laden and his followers have a perfect right. There is even enough truth in all this to make it a fairly easy sell to other Muslims. The point is that what bin Laden believed and supported, even though we might disagree, was not in violation of any international law, custom or standard.

Instead, what makes the bin Laden movement reprehensible to all civilized people is the METHOD they choose to employ – acts of terrorism that indiscriminately kill and wound not only non-combatants but people who are in no way involved in whatever they presume to be fighting for or against.

Bin Laden and his fellow killers act with total disregard to all international laws, customs and standards that try to somehow civilize armed conflict. In other words, they made themselves into international outlaws.

So, what do we, the United States of America, that Republic that prides itself on having a government of laws and not men, do in response? Exactly this:

-> We conducted an armed invasion of a sovereign nation, one that is supposedly an ally in the “war on terror”. (I am aware that the Criminal General of the U.S. Eric Holder publicly announced that there was “no violation of law” in the bin Laden operation. I interpret this to mean that the Administration does not acknowledge any law to which it is subject, including our own Constitution.)

-> We assassinated a wanted outlaw along with one of his wives and several employees. Assassination is a form of murder, not the implement of true justice. (I define assassination as a murder committed for political reasons.)

-> People all over the United States, on hearing the news, took to the streets in apparent joy, chanting slogans and waving signs and flags, celebrating the illegal killing of other human beings. (Do you remember how you felt on 9/11 when you saw images of people in Muslim lands dancing in the streets and chanting praises to Allah because the “Great Satan” had been wounded?)

-> The administration has been, and continues to exploit this illegal operation to milk it for every possible “bounce” in the president’s poll numbers, giving the clear impression that the primary reason for conducting this assassination at this particular time and in this particular way was calculated, not to impose justice, but to enhance the president’s prospects for re-election.

There is a known hazard that is always present when a nation acts to “confront evil”. That hazard is that, in doing so, that nation becomes evil itself. That is to say, it becomes no better than the thing it set out to destroy.

I can hear some of you thinking “but there was no other way, plus he really deserved it”. I respond that there was another way and that, it was not a matter of what bin Laden deserved, it was a matter of living up to our own standards and values.

The legal way to have truly brought bin Laden to justice would have been to present to the Pakistani government, the evidence we had gathered proving beyond doubt that they were harboring bin Laden. We could have given them a very limited time in which to either produce bin Laden or to suffer the consequences. Once we had a live bin Laden in hand, he could have been subjected to due process in any number of ways: in a U.S court of law, at the World Court, before a legally constructed military tribunal, or even through a special tribunal specific to the purpose, as was done at Nuremberg at the end of WWII.

At the end of the day, we have destroyed a monster because of the illegal METHODS he and his followers use to pursue their ends. And we did so by employing illegal METHODS.

Fellow citizens, I ask you: who really won this round?

We once aspired to be better than this. What happened to us?

Troy L Robinson

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