Osama’s death is no victory worth celebrating.

So I promised on Twitter that I would comment on the big news from the weekend. Which, on the off-chance that you somehow missed it, is that after almost 10 years we finally managed to track down and murder Osama bin Laden. When President Obama made his announcement there was lots of images in the news of people around the country celebrating in the streets and chanting USA USA USA, including among the Arab population in Dearborn, Michigan.

I’m still not sure what it was we were supposed to be celebrating.

Sure a bad man who was, at least indirectly, responsible for the deaths of lots of Americans was finally assassinated. Many people said, including the President, that “justice had finally be served.” I disagree. Justice would’ve been to have captured him alive and put him on trial in New York City. Killing him is simple vengeance and vengeance is not something that should be celebrated. He wasn’t on the same scale as Hitler or Stalin, though you would be forgiven for thinking so given the reaction to his death.

It would’ve helped if this could have occurred 10 years ago. Say within months of the launch of the military campaign on Afghanistan. That was, after all, our reason for invading that country and starting that war to begin with. Or at least that’s what we were told at the time. Instead of quick and meaningful justice, Osama would be allowed to live free for another 10 years while he did everything he could to contribute to America’s downfall. He knew he couldn’t defeat us militarily and that was never his plan. Instead his goal was to do to us what he had done to the Soviets: Bleed us dry. And the Bush Administration was only too happy to help him with that plan.

President Bush, who had promised to hunt down and bring in Osama dead or alive, quickly lost interest in the whole pursuit of justice thing when he saw an opportunity to start another war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no immediate threat to the United States. Osama must’ve been very pleased with that decision. Not only did it take the heat off of him, but it helped him to realize his goals. He couldn’t have planned for a better way to drag America down. On top of providing Osama with an easy means of instigating trouble and forcing Americans to spend billions in Iraq, it also guaranteed that the effort in Afghanistan would be neglected prolonging the amount of time and money that would have to be spent there as well. We made it cheap and easy for Osama to weaken us and left him free to make new attempts at blowing shit up that would seem to be failures, but in reality forced us to add new layers of pointless security theater that cost billions to maintain while providing no real protection.

Remember the Republican’s oft repeated talking point that they “hate us for our freedoms”? If that’s true then why did we so readily give so many of those freedoms up as a result? Between the Bush warrantless wiretapping laws that can’t be challenged because of the “risk” to national security to the stupid bans on liquids and fingernail clippers on airplanes to the degrading naked body scanners or public molestation policies that are still in place under Obama. All of this despite the fact that the average American is still 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane. We are far less free today than we were on September 11th, 2001. And to what end? There hasn’t been a single terrorist plot that was foiled by these new security systems. All of the plots that were intercepted since 2001 used traditional intelligence gathering systems.

Worse than the loss of our freedoms is the loss of our national values. America had been a leader in the condemnation and prohibition of the use of torture only to decide that torture was exactly what we needed to prosecute the wars we had “preemptively” started. Not one scrap of useful information has ever been gleaned under the Bush torture programs, but that hasn’t stopped some folks for arguing for their continuance even today. In fact there is a false claim by those on the Right that torture provided the information needed for the death of Osama. A claim that is patently false. Those on the Right like to claim that waterboarding is no worse than the hazing that goes on in college fraternities even while those, on the Right or Left, who have undergone the technique to prove it’s “no big deal” come out of with their minds changed. It’s torture plain and simple.

Ten years on from 9/11 and we’re more polarized and divided than ever after having squandered a great deal of global good will that was given to us in the immediate aftermath of that terrible day. Our international reputation is heavily damaged and our credibility has never been more in question. We’ve been suffering from the worst recession since the Great Depression and yet our spending on the Military is beyond consideration in the moves to reign in the mounting national debt. Sure, we’re not completely bankrupt just yet (at least not financially), but tell me how many of Osama’s goals weren’t realized, often by our own hands?

But hey, at least we killed him, right?

13 thoughts on “Osama’s death is no victory worth celebrating.

  1. Did we kill him though? So far all we have is second and third hand “I swear Osama is dead” stories. They disposed of the body almost immediately after his murder in a place nobody can retrieve it for further examination. All they took as “proof” of his identity is a few pictures and a blood sample, neither of which anybody will show to the public.

    I don’t usually support conspiracy theories, but Osama wasn’t an idiot, he knows they would check DNA and use “facial recognition”. Without a body there is no possible way to confirm or deny they killed the real deal or a doppelgänger.

    I don’t give a shit about Obama’s birth certificate, it is checked of every president before they can be sworn in. But this is the kind of thing that needs absolute proof. A few pictures and a blood sample doesn’t cut it.

  2. Moloch is right, he’s not dead. The Military just discovered a way to stop him from making anymore videos…

    I think its best he’s dead and gone. No long trial to keep his followers enraged and his vision alive. No burial site for them to worship. He’s just a bad memory now.

  3. Worst part about this era, is that we now live in an era of fear and selfishness ironically through the Ayn Randian Tea Partiers.

  4. @ Moloch: I don’t have any reason to doubt he’s really dead. There’s enough people with different agendas confirming the fact that I doubt it’s a lie.

    @ Ceedy: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy the man is dead and I do agree that the world is better off without him. I just don’t see the event as something worthy of all the jubilation its causing. As for the long trial, I guess that depends on whether you believe we’re a Nation of Laws, as the Republicans like to repeatedly claim, or not. That’s one thing I agree with them on. We are a nation of laws and if that is to really mean anything then we should uphold those laws every time, all of the time and not ignore them when it’s convenient to do so. That means even the worst of the worst get their day in court. I have no problems with him being buried at sea. That could’ve been done even if he had been brought to trial.

    @ udx: I find that a huge irony given it’s mostly the Far Right that has embraced Ayn Rand so fiercely. She was about as atheist as you can get and, in many ways, a perfect representation of the stereotype atheist who is lacking of morals so many of the Fundamentalists like to trot out as why atheism is so bad. Just about everything in Rand’s philosophy is diametrically opposed to everything Jesus ever taught and you’ve got these die hard Christians championing her as the ultimate moralist.

    It’s not hard to see why they like her so much. Many on the Far Right are greedy and selfish people and Ayn Rand was all about being greedy and selfish. She confirms at least part of what they want to believe and having already mastered the state of cognitive dissonance by managing to believe they’re doing what Jesus taught without actually doing any of it, they find it easy to overlook the parts of her they don’t like to focus on the parts they do.

  5. Les, I do agree that celebration aspect of his death is misplaced. I also wholeheartedly agree with your opinion of Ayn Rand and American Christianity. (Grab what you like!)

    I don’t believe we are a nation of laws. We are a nation of independent democratic states joined in union. Our judicial system is probably the most flawed of all three of our branches of government that ensures a checks and balances system. A trial for Bin Laden in the US would have been nothing but a kangaroo court. He would’ve been found guilty regardless. Just ‘how’ guilty is immaterial and would ultimately just be more of a spectacle.

    Secondly, and speculatively, the US could never let that happen because it would open a treasure trove of classified material. The military’s prior business with Bin Laden, and revealing more of his motive for the attacks, which I would guess, is more than ‘he hates me for my freedoms’.

  6. Justice would’ve been to have captured him alive and put him on trial in New York City.

    After reading The Lies They Tell Us, I am inclined to wonder if the killing of bin Laden wasn’t stipulated by Pakistan as part of the deal. If, as the author says, “…there is no getting into the town [Abbottabad] by land or air without the expressed consent of Pakistan’s security establishment,” it seems all the more suspicious not only that bin Laden got in there five years ago but that his Yemeni wife got in just a few months ago.

  7. Visited your website for the first time today, liked what what I saw, for now will visit often.
    I do have an opinion on this bin laden thing, you put too much effort into it, here is what I would have said (take it for what it is.

    Bin Laden? Whos that, who ever he is, at least the news channels fixated on a new subject.
    Was he more imprtant then the royal wedding?
    Was he more important then Libya?
    Was he more important then the tsunami? NOTE:I actually want to here more about this one. How are the people doing? Whats the plans for some of the wiped town? Etc..

    We need a new fixation point for the reporters

  8. @ Les:
    I had this discussion about Rand on Facebook. The person “sitting” opposite me noted that Rand, herself, would disavow any supernaturally-grounded explanation for human behavior and ethics. However, I noted, people who espouse Rand’s philosophies mirror those of the Protestant Work Ethic, and their (at least, superficial) identification with former often comes from the latter. In turn, a lot of well-meaning Christians have had the PWE gradually instilled in them, not by intent, but by necessity. It’s rife throughout much contemporary theology (though it really shouldn’t be, as you point out).

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  11. @Ceedy; If I understand you correctly to be saying that we should simply forget Osama, that would be a mistake. At minimum we need to think about not only him, but what his story can tell us about the economics of energy, of cultural and religious frictions, of imperialism, and of asymmetric warfare. He leveraged token weapons to throw a superpower completely off-balance. To study him is not to honor him; we study tuberculosis bacteria too.

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