02 May 2011

On Bin Laden

It seems to me people have to recognize that States act differently from people, and that there are circumstances in which the in extremis nature of someone like Bin Laden justifies the kind of action taken yesterday. Most Americans celebrate this. I acknowledge its justification, but I can't help feeling that it's a bit unseemly to jump for joy at an assassination. Particularly since, realistically, so much time has passed that the tangible effect of this "decapitation" operation will likely not be enormous.

Having said that, I think the whole operation was handled with more intelligence than many such in the recent past, including the discreet and rapid disposal of the body, so as not to give grist to the martyrdom mill, so to speak. I hope that, whatever benefit it does or doesn't have in the fight against Muslim extremist terrorist criminals, it has a political benefit for the president. After all, Bush made a big deal out of the "war on terror," foolishly using the term "jihadist," which is a noble word to Muslims, and elevating a gang of criminals to the status of an existential threat to America, which they never were. Then he rather disingenuously downplayed the whole "get Bin Laden" mission after Rumsfeld screwed up Tora Bora beyond all recognition, and Iraq became their main focus. So it seems to me no reasonable person can conclude other than that the Bush administration completely failed at retribution for the attacks, to the extent that was a US foreign policy goal all these years (which it was). It took a change of administration for the goal of removing the symbol of the attackers of 9/11 to be accomplished, and if there is to be credit for that, Obama deserves that credit.

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