Sunday, May 8, 2011

An Expected Death

I am bemused by the questions being raised regarding the killing of Osama (Usama?) Bin Laden.  Was it an assassination?  Did it violate international law?  Why bury him at sea?  Why not release a photograph of his corpse?  Was he armed?  Why kill him instead of capture him?  Why use the code name "Geronimo" to refer to him?

No sensible person can have had any doubt that the United States government would act in the manner it did once it had reliable information of his location and that he was located in Pakistan.  All the world knew he was "wanted, dead or alive."  Expressing surprise or dismay that he was not captured or that Pakistani territorial sovereignty was violated seems disingenuous, if not more than that, as a result.  The United States tried to kill him while infringing on the territory of other nations even prior to 9/11.

I am not fond of our current Attorney General, primarily because of his famous assertion that "failure is not an option" in a particular trial it was insisted take place in federal court and subsequently decided would take place before a military tribunal.  However, I think he's correct in maintaining the killing of Bin Laden was in the nature of an act of "national self-defense."  That Bin Laden had killed and remained intent on killing Americans cannot be doubted.  No nation can be expected to tolerate those who have expressed their desire to kill its citizens, especially when they've demonstrated their ability to do so in such a spectacular fashion.  Why should such toleration be expected?

If it is fatuous to expect such toleration, it is fatuous to bemoan the fact that such toleration is not granted.  The questions being raised then become idle.  Perhaps he was killed because it was desired that he be killed rather than captured.  Perhaps he was killed because in such a situation men with guns tend to kill because they are concerned for their own safety.  It does not matter, in this case, nor do the other questions being asked.

Like most everything else, questions may be pertinent or irrelevant, fatuous or intelligent, appropriate or idle, based on the circumstances under consideration.  The circumstances here were such as to render the outcome not only appropriate, but inevitable.  If the person killed had not been involved in killing thousands and had not been actively trying to kill more, other conduct, other outcomes may have been appropriate.

Were his actions such as to justify the wars conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan?  If it is indeed that case that those wars were commenced for that reason, that is a different question.  I would say they were not.

No comments:

Post a Comment