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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Thoughts on Bin Laden 
2nd-May-2011 11:36 am
Angels don't kill
My thoughts on Bin Laden's death are complex. I'm not rejoicing. I'm not condemning. I'm just -

I have an overdeveloped sense of justice, you see. And I would have wanted Bin Laden arrested and made to stand trial. And then the punishment. After the trial.

What would it have cost us to put him on trial? The evidence is overwhelming; it's not like he's somehow going to go free.

But the naive core of me sees us going in and assassinating someone in the middle of the night and thinks "But that's not what the good guys do."

And I know, I know, after everything I've personally been through, after everything I see on a daily basis, I still believe that humans should be better? Yes. Yes. I have to believe.

I know Bin Laden was a murderer. I knew my rapist was a rapist, but I didn't give my violent-offender "little brother" his address.

And yeah, that's what's on my mind today. Not least because I'm giving a survivor speech at 1, but.

We don't go off on our own and kill. Even if the person has it coming.

We are supposed to be better.

This is a part of myself that gets exercised in Shayara, I guess. In Book Three especially, where Julia is learning how to rule. We're supposed to do it right. There's no reason not to do it right. I wish we had done it right.

(Every so often I go Lawful Good and surprise myself.)

I'm reluctantly leaving comments open. I'm going to be out all afternoon and evening. PLEASE be respectful of others in here, as many of my readers have wildly differing opinions. Assholitude towards others (note: assholitude is very different from disagreement, and don't play games, if you're being a dick you know you're being a dick) and anti-Arab or anti-Muslim rhetoric is grounds for banning. I have so little patience for people going ragemonstery on people who are not exactly like them, you do not even know. Paladin 'Song will smite you off her LJ kthxbye.
Comments 
2nd-May-2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
I, too, am of mixed feelings. I feel like capture might have led us to know about other potential threats he and his were planning. However, I worry that, were he captured alive, the madness that gripped the country in the last few years might have somehow made it ok to torture him for that information, which pretty much diminishes us all.

I am, however, also an eye for an eye person. I'd like to say that its only under certain circumstances, but truthfully, if you believe its ok in one place it becomes really easy to justify in others. I have to say I would not have given someone I cared about the address of the person who assaulted me, either, as I would not want them to go to jail nor have them take the emotional toll for doing what they wanted to do. I, on the other hand, would happily take that toll if I could get away with it.

For that reasoning (no action to date), I do a lot of atoning in terms of volunteer work, personal outreach and generally trying to make the world a better place. To date, however, revenge is never truly far from my mind.
2nd-May-2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
I posted essentially the same comment you did; I suspect that they didn't attack to assassinate him but that he put up a fight, and was killed in the firefight that ensued. We may never know, however. I do agree, though, that he should have been tried in court.

2nd-May-2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, they did attack to assassinate. Proof here.

That said, I'm not overly concerned with that myself. While it'd be nice to capture him alive, I'm also reasonably sure given the resistance and zealotry that it would have been extremely difficult to do so. If I was in the place giving orders, caught between "make the mission more difficult/include a greater risk of him escaping/put soldiers' lives more at risk/probably have him die anyway" and "shoot to kill," I'm not overly bothered by "Shoot to kill" even if I would have preferred a capture myself.
2nd-May-2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
There's no reason not to do it right. I wish we had done it right.

We did it right. The fact that a SEAL team was sent in, at considerable risk of their own lives, tells me they had orders to capture him if at all possible. The fact that he engaged them in a firefight, and was killed while doing so, tells me the SEAL team had "capture or kill" orders. If the intent had just been to kill him with no hope of capture, a Hellfire missile launched from a Predator would have been a much easier solution.

When police officers serve an arrest warrant, they sometimes get into firefights where the suspect is killed. This was a similar situation.
2nd-May-2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
At least currently, the news reports are they went in with a kill order front and center. Perhaps the hellfire was considered too risky in the area in question? (Or too unlikely to produce an identifiable body?)
2nd-May-2011 03:58 pm (UTC)
I am relieved that he is dead, though I wish he could have been captured alive and made to stand trial. I bet that trial would have been an expensive logistical nightmare, though.

Seeing drunken people joyfully celebrating in the streets, as if it were a Red Sox World Series victory, makes me very uneasy. This article at Salon.com comes pretty close to my own opinions.
2nd-May-2011 06:45 pm (UTC)
This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory: He has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed.

That's funny, I remember seeing joyous exultation when Desert Storm kicked off.
Which, IIRC, was before OBL became a player on the American radar.

And there were those two A-Bombs we dropped a few decades back that kicked off parades ...

Edited at 2011-05-02 06:48 pm (UTC)
2nd-May-2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
Bill Foster: I'm the bad guy?
Sergeant Prendergast: Yeah.
Bill Foster: How did that happen?
2nd-May-2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Like I said in my journal, it was unlikely he would be captured alive because of the difficulty getting to him in the first place.

Any military persons here can correct me, but wouldn't they've just sent a sniper or dropped a bomb if it was an assassination? Would've a team be sent in unless "capture" was a part of the orders given?
2nd-May-2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
I am not a military person, but yes, if they just wanted to make him be dead, they used a very cumbersome awkward tool for the job. Predator drones could have done the job at zero risk to US lives, with live video. Sniper depends on his movement patterns. He could have stayed within that compound and it's very tall walls, and never exposed himeself to the sniper, for months at a time.

Capture would have been very hard, and placed people at much greater risk. I am pretty sure that the only way he would have been captured is if he had thrown himself on the ground and yelled "I surrender" at the top of his voice, over and over.
2nd-May-2011 04:27 pm (UTC)
We don't go off on our own and kill. Even if the person has it coming.

We are supposed to be better.


Exactly.
2nd-May-2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
The way people were celebrating in the streets while the same folks condemned such demonstrations against America overseas in the past as barbaric made me sick.

Kids outside on the playground chanting USA! USA! this morning were even worse. Kids.

We ARE supposed to be better than this. Not in the taking him out, perhaps. Or in how it was accomplished. But in how we react to the news of it. Let's be more angel than ape.
2nd-May-2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
The way people were celebrating in the streets while the same folks condemned such demonstrations against America overseas in the past as barbaric made me sick.

Yeah, that struck me as well.
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2nd-May-2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
I've seen a lot of "surely they planned to capture him" comments, but the headline on CNN right now says "U.S. forces given 'kill' order."

I'm not exactly broken up about his death (though kind of weirded out by the hasty burial at sea), but I'm deeply uncomfortable with the "USA! USA!" response, and the hyper-victorious, dominant attitude, and the ugly way this drops us right back into eye for an eye territory (if we ever weren't there).

Honestly? My first response was to be worried.
2nd-May-2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
To be picky, it's an eye for 3,000 eyes.
2nd-May-2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
I honestly feel like this reminds me of that moment in The Wizard of Oz, when they started parading the witch's broomstick through town. This is like when they hung Hussein (granted that bin Laden WAS a threat to our well being in America- hardly a trivial point; hardly a point completely solved by his own deathm either), only a thousand times more so. Maybe- maybe- this will help some people feel a little easier, or sleep a little more soundly. I hope so.
2nd-May-2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
My $0.02: none of this is precisely news.

Obama said back in '08 that given the chance he'd kill bin Laden. Not catch or arrest or imprison, but kill.

30 months later, when it actually happens, is a little too late to object.

We didn't (collectively) recoil in horror from that; we didn't (collectively) take the opportunity to say "No, wait, that's not how we do things." We (collectively) wanted him dead; now he's dead. OK.

The important question is, as it always was: what happens next?
2nd-May-2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you for expressing this. I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right. They could have just as easily had a trial. It would have been more honorable.

I'm not sure how I feel about the whole thing. I mean, yeah, I think he needed to be found and stopped, but I'm not exactly rejoicing. I have too much respect for life (even for someone who's violent and cruel), and dancing in the streets, as opposed to thinking about the cost and the loss of life it took to get here, seems tacky to me.

Besides, it's done, but it's not over. There's going to be a lot of backlash that will have to be dealt with.
2nd-May-2011 06:42 pm (UTC)
They could have just as easily had a trial.

Please explain how trying OBL would be easy.
2nd-May-2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you for providing this space.

I don't believe in the death penalty. Killing Bin Laden won't bring back the nephew of my old boss or the sister of a coworker. It won't change my memory of being part of the mass of people fleeing a shut-down Center City Philadelphia.

Dumping his body at sea denies his followers one shrine (though how much you bet the location of his death will become one), but gives them reason to argue he's being held in some secret prison somewhere.

There would be no trial. Just as it was decided it was too dangerous, too much of an intelligence risk, to try KSM in New York. He's go rot somewhere, maybe Gitmo but more likely somewhere even less public. Somewhere where his fellow prisoners would not be lifted to know they were in the same jail as he.

There was no way to come out of that battle without dirt on our hands. I just wish it wasn't blood, too.
2nd-May-2011 05:26 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine how the SEAL team COULD have captured him alive. If there was any way that it could be done, yes, I think that it would have been better, yes. But I can't imagine that it was physically possible.
2nd-May-2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
(Every so often I go Lawful Good and surprise myself.)

That's sweet.

As will shock you almost entirely none, I agree. I would have far preferred a capture and a trial.

I never expected better, though.
2nd-May-2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
There's no reason not to do it right. I wish we had done it right.

Were you a party to the top-secret strategy sessions that took place? You say this as though you have a thorough knowledge of the options that were on the table or possible. You weren't.

I, too, wish that he could have been captured and made to stand trial. It's my idealism, my sense of justice. But at the end of the day, I was not there. I was not a part of the process. I have no idea whatsoever about what was possible, what was an option. Therefore, it makes me extremely uncomfortable when people speak about what should have happened and what the options were as if they were a part of the process with intimate knowledge of the operation's workings.
2nd-May-2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
That said...

The way people were celebrating in the streets while the same folks condemned such demonstrations against America overseas in the past as barbaric made me sick.

Totally agreed. I'm dealing with a lot of discomfort as I reconcile how nationalistic and hypocritical the public display has been with my private belief that those impacted directly by 9/11 (military/rescue personnel, families of those killed, most of NYC) should be able to react however they feel like reacting. And yet, the bulk of what's being given attention is... not that.
2nd-May-2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
I think after 10 years and so much death and strife I would rather have him dead and have this particular part of the book be closed rather than do the right thing and hold him over for trial. Sometimes the expedient thing is more needful than the right thing.

With that said, I also don't agree with the rampant celebration in the streets. Killing Bin Laden doesn't solve anything. It only complicates an already complicated and complex situation. Instead of thinking "Oh thank the Gods!" I'm more concerned with "Well, what next?" Bin Laden was only a tool for the Taliban and al Qaida, not a charismatic leader or strategically important person. I feel his death is only about vengeance, not about making headway in war or terror.
2nd-May-2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
I think capturing him would have presented multiple problems. One of those being that we are not legally allowed to make an intrusion into another country to kidnap a person. That sort of action was his claimed original motive for attacking the US, remember. An assault can at least be viewed as a military action, but a kidnapping is outside all law. Another is how to detain him, although that is somewhat managble. The thing I see as a problem is the trial. I can't image that there are 12 people in the US who don't know that he is guilty, don't have any bias regarding his guilt, who could be argued as being able to provide an impartial jury. Sure, we could have a trial and find him guilty, but that's not what a trial is.

I personally am ok with sending a hit squad in to kill him. And I am ok with feeling good about that. I have celebrated two deaths in my lifetime. Him and Pol Pot. If that revokes my sainthood, I'm ok with that. I will never be able to work up the smallest amount of regret over his death. His actions killed thousands of people. His goal was death, he lived to kill people, or better yet, have other people kill people for him. There is no question at all that he did these things, and so long as they got the right guy, I'm good with that. Violence may be the last resort, but it is the last resort, and no amount of negotiation, talking, sympathizing would ever make it safe to share the planet with that guy. There was no lesser action that would have resolved the problem.
2nd-May-2011 09:47 pm (UTC)
"Celebrate" is the wrong word for me, but I was generally pleased by the death of Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, and Augusto Pinochet. The latter two long after they had lost power in their home countries and were in jeopardy from international legal systems.

I won't shed a lot of tears for Qaddafi, either.

Edited at 2011-05-02 09:50 pm (UTC)
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3rd-May-2011 12:52 pm (UTC)
This is a wise bit of..wisdom, here :)

Seems to me sometimes that a lot of us have spent the last ten years going 'ragemonstery' about this issue, and missing the point. HATE cloaks itself in the clergy-robes of many faiths. Revenge is easy. Hate is easy. Justice and understanding are hard. Thanks, 'song.
3rd-May-2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
I agree one hundred percent. Thank you, 'song.
3rd-May-2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this. I'm deeply uncomfortable with the idea that we, as a nation, celebrate the taking of a life- any life- with partying in the streets. Do I understand the sentiment, the relief some people feel? Yes. I'd feel similarly if I heard my abuser had died. Does that make me any less uncomfortable? No.
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