Brian Edwards Media

Why I have no qualms about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden

For anyone who believes in  the rule of law the assassination– for that is what it was –  of Osama Bin Laden by American navy SEALS in Pakistan, raises serious questions about the legal, ethical and strategic justification of the exercise. American troops on foreign soil execute an accused person without benefit of arrest, trial, legal defence or a legitimate verdict of guilt.  

As a committed opponent of the death penalty and someone horrified by Simon Power’s prolonged assault here at home on the rights of defendants in criminal trials, I  know this ought to bother me. But it doesn’t.

I’m with the cheering crowds of New Yorkers at Ground Zero. I rejoice with them at the removal from this earth of a purely evil creature who premeditatedly planned, directed, celebrated and boasted of the long-range slaughter of thousands of civilians – men, women and children. My response, and the response of those celebrating at Ground Zero and around the world, is the entirely  normal human response of the fellow citizens, families and friends of those thousands of civilians and of anyone who abhors the premeditated and careless taking of innocent lives.  

So I have very little time for the intellectual delicacy, the moral refinement shown by a Russell Norman when he says, ‘It really isn’t very becoming for the greatest democracy in the world to go around assassinating people, no matter how bad they are.’

‘Unbecoming’? The term doesn’t quite seem appropriate when discussing a mass murderer whose conscience is untroubled by the recruitment of children as suicide bombers. Were the actions of  the senior German officers, who in 1944 attempted to assassinate Hitler, also not very ‘becoming’?  Would the German Greens, had there been German Greens, have tut-tutted  about that: ‘No trial, no defence, no proof of guilt – shocking!’

As for proof of Bin Laden’s guilt, it comes from his own mouth. It is documented in a series of messages, some on video, which he delivered to the infidels of the West. Bin Laden is a proud monster. He wants us to know what he has done, what he intends to do.

And, finally, there is the argument that, had Bin Laden been arrested and tried, we in the West would be safer. Al Qaeda would have respected the United States for adhering to the rule of law and we would all sleep easily in our beds. Such a trial would of course take months, maybe years. And during that time Osama’s suicide bombers would wait patiently for Western law to deliver its verdict. And since it is inconceivable that the accused would be found not guilty, and would be condemned either to death or to imprisonment for life, they would finally accept that justice had been served and abandon their murderous hatred of the West. And we would all live in harmony and peace forever.

Though bringing Bin Laden to trial  might have satisfied our moral sensitivities, I’m not entirely persuaded by that argument. Al Qaeda may well seek to revenge Bin Laden’s killing, but not, I would have thought, over such a protracted period.

And can all this be squared with my respect for the rule of law, my opposition to the death penalty or my criticism of National’s Minister of Justice for limiting the rights of New Zealanders accused of crime? Not easily I admit. But it may be that terrorism is a crime unique in its intent and its effects and one that requires a unique response, if justice is to be done and be seen to have been done in the minds of those whose friends and loved ones were the victims of that crime.

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87 Comments:

  1. I doubt Osama would have wished to be taken alive, and apparently the whole operation was videoed, so we may be able to corroborate whether he was killed in the conflict surrounding his capture or killed in cold blood.

    Personally, I don’t think anyone should be killed if they’re surrendering. I wouldn’t do it (even if it is ‘easier’ to deal with the aftermath).

    BE: “Personally, I don’t think anyone should be killed if they’re surrendering.” You mean if he walked out with his hands above his head? According to one story, he was hiding behnd his wife. But it may be some time before the truth is known. The picture of the ‘dead’ Obama was a fake. And there are quite a few people suspicious about the burial at sea.

  2. Thanks for expressing this point of view. I’ve been wrestling with the same moral dilemma and so I found your observations rather helpful.

  3. If we can find OBL why can’t we find Blair or Bush?

  4. if your principles don’t count when the person in question is someone you don’t like, they’re not really principles.

    BE: A very worthy sentiment. But this is scarcely a case of ‘someone you don’t like’. Inflexible principles are responsible for much of the suffering in the world. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have inflexible principles. Terrorism relies on inflexible principles. Sensible people recognise the importance of context in ethical decision making.

  5. I don’t mourn the death of Osama bin Laden. I would have given the order without a qualm.

    But there is something troubling about the sight of thousands of people, hysterical and feral in their celebration of this killing. It gave me the creeps as much as watching the screaming, gun-firing fanatics on the news.

    Let’s not regret his death – but let’s not gloat over the killing, either.

  6. I have become skeptical of US military announcements so at the risk of sounding naive – show me the body – why no pictures, expert evidence, videos etc

  7. Yip you nailed it Brian. Life’s a paradox & may Bin Laden and all like him western, eastern, southern or Norther end up deservedly swimming with the sharks. I don’t agree with the death penalty or killing people either. That said terrorism or whatever you want to call it is a completely different category. No problem at all reconciling the removal of genuinely evil DNA from the planet.

  8. O Brian, you have (again) said what needed to be said.
    This bin Laden was mad as a snake and was a focal point for every other mad extremist who fancied they operated with the blessing of Mohammed.
    I was only surprised that it was Russell Norman and not Keith Locke who came out with the obligatory hand-wringing on behalf of the Greens Who Don’t Actually Stand For Much. Kudos to you.

  9. oh and to all the doubters, who say produce the body, wake up. Radical Islam would like nothing better, and do you think the US would have gone public with this if they hadn’t ventilated the bloke? Get real! It’s too easy to disprove. Rather say to al quaeda if he’s still among us produce him in a denial video.
    God are western people REALLY so stupid?

  10. Hmmm. Thin edge of the wedge, and all that, Brian. There’s something distinctly wrong with the idea of troops covertly entering a sovereign country to capture or kill a foreigner. And for this to then be hailed as “justice” in the name of God. All the more so when the seeds of the information at to his whereabouts appear to have been sown from the fruits of torture (too many metaphors; I know). But – I acknowledge that it’s easy to be righteous from NZ’s safe armchair.

  11. 11

    “Al Qaeda would have respected the United States for adhering to the rule of law”…now there is a Tui billboard if ever I stumbled over one! I rather align with one of your closing comments Brian: “terrorism is a crime unique in its intent and its effects and one that requires a unique response”. An inhuman crime begets an inhumane response.

  12. “It would have been better to take Bin Laden alive so he faced trial” said Russell Norman, Green Party leader. I guess we should have expected nothing less from this whimpy bunch of do-gooders. The same group of politicians with the same ideology that Labour had to work with a few years ago, and who, eventually were the demise of the last Labour government. If New Zealand had been attacked by terrorists and thousands of our fellow citizens had been killed, and finally we managed to assassinate the plotter, I believe as a nation we would have rejoiced in the streets in exactly the same way the Americans did yesterday.

  13. I sort of agree with you in principle but I also found posted today on facebook the following which I also found quite moving…
    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

    JC: I was going to put that quote up on the site, but unfortunately it appears that these widely tweeted words did not come from MLK jr – they were coined by Jessica Dovey, an American teacher of English currently working in Japan, based on the writings of MLK.

  14. 14

    I have peace-loving friends in the US who are rapt about this.

    Osama bin Laden was a terrorist. That was his choice.

    He chose to live by the Kalashnikov, and he died, if not by Kalashnikov, then by rounds fired into his head by some other weapon — if the American version of events is to be believed.

    He did not give a choice to the thousands of people who got up in the morning and ended up dead.

    As for the tut-tutters: he was a terrorist. He might have been a sincere, Allah-fearing terrorist.

    But terrorists kill people simply to instil terror in a community. They don’t care who gets killed — the soldier, the sailor, the little old lady hobbling along a street, or the pregnant mother walking her children. As long as the great mass of people are terrified and cowed.

    Terrorists function like militaries, but they are not regular, signed-up soldiers, sailors, airmen.

    So they can’t expect the niceties of the law to protect them when their mortal end crashes through the door.

  15. Kill bin Laden by all means, I am not going to shed a tear, but for heaven’s sake, Obama, Cameron, Gillard, and yet, our very own Key, should declare victory and pull the troops out, and put an end to this ridiculous ‘war on terror’

  16. I’m with the cheering crowds of New Yorkers at Ground Zero. I rejoice with them at the removal from this earth of a purely evil creature who premeditatedly planned, directed, celebrated and boasted of the long-range slaughter of thousands of civilians – men, women and children. My response, and the response of those celebrating at Ground Zero and around the world, is the entirely normal human response of the fellow citizens, families and friends of those thousands of civilians and of anyone who abhors the premeditated and careless taking of innocent lives.

    It could be argued that the US military has done its fair share of taking innocent lives as well, the My Lai massacre comes to mind…

    Is this something you abhor as well?

    BE: Yes.

  17. I agree with RMH and Russel Norman – Osama could have been arrested and tried. We did with Saddam Hussein, and Yugoslav generals over Bosnian war crimes, etc. Sure it is harder, and poses greater risk to the lives of the soldiers doing the arresting, but it always has. Allied soldiers used to take great risks to capture Nazi officers alive, to extract info from them and any codes or plans they may have had on their person. Greater rewards, but greater risks.

    The reward (that justifies the greater risk) for arresting and trying Obama is the chance to prove to the world his guilt, and the justice of his life sentence. It’s easier to just kill him, or hand him over like Saddam for others to kill for us, but….

    ….how would you feel if Gaddafi arranged a hit squad to kill Obama, or David Cameron, or Nikolas Sarkozy? (for killing his child and grandchildren) Or if Castro reciprocated by whacking a few US Presidents (who publically admitted they had tried to assassinate Castro, like JFK).

    Which raises the charge that Osama is different, because he is a terrorist. Really? Terrorism is a terrible crime (and Osama was indisputably a terrorist), because terrorists kill (or threaten to kill) civilians to ‘persuade’ governments to change their minds.

    But how is Osama’s suicide bombers killing dozens of civilians while they try to kill a few US soldiers, different to the civilian ‘collateral damage’ deaths caused by the US bombing to kill a few terrorists? ie How accidental and unavoidable are the civilian deaths in modern ‘assymmetric’ (ie one-sided) warfare?

    When you bomb to kill Gaddafi knowing that civilians are round that building, the US generals know they will kill a lot of civilians. And they do so to avoid loss of US soldiers lives (by not sending in ground troops to do the job instead of the bomb). So Gaddafi could fairly claim that S generals and Obama are terrorists, right? And send a hit squad after them, right?

    Besides, every human is made in the image of God, even Osama. And we all have the chance to repent of our past sins (including mass murders). Taking Osama’s life (if it was avoidable) denies him the chance of mercy (a chance to repent) and is us playing God. Which is exactly what happens in death penalty cases… so your position Brian, is untenable.

    P.S. @ Ford Prefect – while the burial at sea is a good idea to avoid matyr’s shrine issues – I would have liked Osama’s body to have been autopsied by the Red Cross to independently ascertain cause of death, etc. Not a question about his death – just how he died. Ditto the soldier’s helmet cam video footage. Need for a coroners enquiry for Osama ;)

    BE: “Osama could have been arrested and tried. We did with Saddam Hussein” Did you see how the Iraqis put Sadam Hussein to death? Given the choice, I don’t doubt he would have preferred no trial and a bullet to the brain.

    “The reward (that justifies the greater risk) for arresting and trying Obama is the chance to prove to the world his guilt,” Osama’s guilt for 9/11 and other crimes was never in question. It may be some time before we know the truth about how he died. Latest reports suggest that he opened fire on his captors and was then shot.

    “….how would you feel if Gaddafi arranged a hit squad to kill Obama, or David Cameron, or Nikolas Sarkozy?” Are you comparing these men’s deeds to Osama Bin Laden’s?

    “Besides, every human is made in the image of God, even Osama.” If Osama is a likeness of God, then neither provides a very impressive model for mankind. Your argument would be stronger without this claptrap.

  18. “a purely evil creature who premeditatedly planned, directed, celebrated and boasted of the long-range slaughter of thousands of civilians”

    Like all the other purely evil creatures who have killed & maimed exploited and dehumanised people over the last century. And not just the Rumsfelds and the Halliburtons either. Include the salt-of-the earth Kiwis who went on sex tours or bought the produce of a dollar a day slave workers.
    Against these sorts our ONLY defence is the rule of law.

  19. I hope Dr Norman reads this post and gains an inkling of the difference between common sense and wisdom and knee-jerk socialist lemming intellectualism.

    I suspect that if the Greens abandoned their watermelon social engineering policies and stuck with saving the planet they’d treble their support.

    I’m an environmentalist but I would never contemplate giving them my vote, how many thousands feel the same way?

    With a bit of luck Russell & Co. will all follow Sue Bradford to John Hatfield’s other loony fringe.

  20. AH: With a bit of luck Russell & Co. will all follow Sue Bradford to John Hatfield’s other loony fringe.

    You know, I kinda feel, the Green Party suits our Normie (et al). It’s the appropriate shading for his political wherewithal. As in “greenhorn”.

  21. It would be interesting to know if the special forces involved were instructed / authorised to execute Bin Laden even if he surrendered without a fight. Would such an order be morally defensible?

    Certainly his death was the preferred option, no messy legal issues which have held up the trials of his lieutenants.

    Your comments raise the obvious question of where do you draw the line between individuals you deem it okay to assassinate, and those you do not. Care to provide a list?

    Those of a different philosophical viewpoint may agree with your argument that its acceptable to execute without trial those who have “premeditatedly planned, directed, celebrated and boasted of the long-range slaughter of thousands of civilians – men, women and children” but may come up with a different list.

    The “celebrating and boasting” may be what puts Bin Laden in a much smaller category, the rest of your requirements would unfortunately describe quite a few individuals.

  22. I would have liked him to stand trial so that both him and the rest of the world could hear once and for all the evidence which has led to his conviction.
    I would have liked to see him captured so that everyone would see with their own eyes that they had truly captured the most wanted man on the Planet. Not just soldiers running into a building, pictures of a bloody room and than a quick disposal of the body. (supposedly in accordance with muslim custom)
    Unless he was armed to attack or defend himself I believe if only to give those conspiracy theories a rest that they should have captured him and had him stand trial. Even Saddam Hussein had to stand trial for his crimes.
    As far as I am concerned the murderers died on board the Planes of 9/11.

    BE: “As far as I am concerned the murderers died on board the Planes of 9/11.” Yes, along with the men, woman and children you were passengers. But the designer of this outrage didn’t. I agree that we need proof of just what happened during this attack on Bin Laden. Our judgement will be very different if he put his hands in the air or gave some other indication of surrender than if he was firing a weapon.

  23. I disagree with killing for revenge or punishment.Although I disagree with this action I accept that it may help prevent future atrocities.

  24. 24

    I,too, was going to post the Martin Luther King “quote” I accept your statement that it is not his, but never the less the sentiment expressed is very true.
    I am very uncomfortable about public celebrations of death, what difference is there between the crowds in Times Square “celebrating” or crowds in the Mid East baying for Jihad?
    BE you say, “According to one story, he was hiding behind his wife. But it may be some time before the truth is known.” Now it seems that he was unarmed. We will never know the truth, so the more you look into it, the more celebrating his death seems to be morally and ethically dubious.

    BE: What seems to be forgotten amid all this fine feeling, is that the people celebrating Bin Laden’s death were New Yorkers and the the site of thier celebration was Ground Zero. Would you feel as little empathy for the parents of a murdered child who prayed for or celebrated the death of their child’s killer? That’s sometimes the trouble with absolute principle, it takes little account of human feeling.

  25. “Bread and Circuses” panem et circenses.
    We will never learn the truth. We will never know why this pawn has been sacrificed and why now. And we will never learn the sinister role of Pakistan’s government, just to name one nation.
    An extract from an article by Robert Fisk: “A middle-aged nonentity, a political failure outstripped by history – by the millions of Arabs demanding freedom and democracy in the Middle East – died in Pakistan yesterday. And then the world went mad………….But talking of caves, Bin Laden’s demise does bring Pakistan into grim focus. For months, President Ali Zardari has been telling us that Bin Laden was living in a cave in Afghanistan. Now it turns out he was living in a mansion in Pakistan. Betrayed? Of course he was. By the Pakistan military or the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence? Quite possibly both. Pakistan knew where he was.”
    And Russel Norman is correct in asking questions as so many politicians from right to left do at the moment in the western world.

    BE: See my reply to Ross Marwick.

  26. But if you’re bending over backwards not to be a do-gooder, are you a do-badder?

    Dr Norman had a point.

    (Well put, Bob).

    BE: “But if you’re bending over backwards not to be a do-gooder, are you a do-badder?” I love this brain-teasers. So helpful to constructive debate. What’s the answer, Dazza?

  27. It would have been better to have him stand trial. He approved the death of many innocent people. He used unscrupulous methods to justify his actions. Thousands of families were destroyed. Fear and anxiety have damaged the futures of those who survived. Millions of dollars were gained by arms makers/traders.The terrible legacy from using uranium depleted weapons will damage future generations. He hid inside a highly guarded cordon and reveled in his “achievements.”
    So yes. George W Bush should be brought to trial in an International Court and face his accusers.

  28. Brian what this tells me is that you actually DO support the death penalty (but not for everybody; only those deemed by you as being so repulsive as to not be derserving of life); moreover a death penalty imposed extra-judicially. I just don’t think you can have it both ways. What’s even more repellent is the arbitrariness of it all: as someone said above – where do we draw the line??

  29. “(American) troops on foreign soil execute an accused person without benefit of arrest, trial, legal defence or a legitimate verdict of guilt…
    I know this ought to bother me. But it doesn’t.”

    Nor should it – if you accept that the activity decribed in your first sentence happens daily in wartime.

    The question more properly is: are we at war ?

  30. It is a pity you choose to add to the hysterical nonsense spouted about this event.

    Possiby Bin Laden was evil and the words from his own mouth confirmed that. I think that a lot the words that came from the mouth of George W Bush could have led one to the conclusion that he was evil and in the eyes on many in the Muslim world he was evil. I doubt however you would have rejoiced at his assassination. Some would argue the GWB was a terrorist but one with a fig leaf of legality. The actions of the state of Israel could at times, and have been, construed as acts state sponsored terrorism. The USA/GWB and the State of Israel have been responsible for the deaths of far more innocents that Bin Laden and his motley crew and those innocents continue to die in all in the name of the war on terror and nobody sheds a tear, least of all Mr Edwards who believes in the sanctity of life until it is convenient to look the other way.

    I shed no tears at Bin Laden’s demise but there is an element of hypocricy (not to mention stupidity, with Mr Key leading the charge – “the world will be a safer place'; what a prize pillock) at the rejoicing.

    BE: “Some would argue…” No doubt some would and it’s clearly been remiss of me not to a) weep over and b) set to rights all those other evils you mention. But that isn’t what we’re talking about at the moment. The Americans bumped off one mass murderer and I empathise with those New Yorkers whose fellow citizens and, in 3,000 cases, loved ones were wiped off the face of the earth by this inhuman bastard. And the best you can do is sermonise about the rights of the perpetrator rather than understand, let alone empathise with the joy and the sense of closure which those people at Ground Zero were expressing. Frankly, your comment and the comments of several others who share your view, are just about enough to send me into the loving arms of Garth McVicar.

  31. Brian – don’t be disingenuous. Many of the comments you have dismissed do not, in fact, argue for the “rights of the perpetrator” (bin Laden). The anxiety is a philosophical one – and it is about the true meaning and value of the Rule of Law. Whether it’s bin Laden or some other person who has committed crimes – it cannot – ever – be acceptable for “justice” to be delivered extra-judicially. Of course those in NY directly affected (or even indirectly affected) by 9/11 have every right to their feelings relief – even revenge – call it what you will; but should the Rule of Law ever, ever be supplanted the Rule of an Affected Few? The quality of the Justice we aim to deliver as a society is tested to bursting point by “hard cases” such as bin Laden’s – but “hard cases” should never, ever be allowed compromise the Rule of Law.

  32. “And the best you can do is sermonise about the rights of the perpetrator”

    Nowhere do I sermonise about the rights of the perpetrator. Please point to the phrase in my post that sermonises about the rights of the perpetrator. What I did was draw a comparison between the evil pertreated by Bin Laden and the evil perpetrated ‘legally’ by the USA and Israel.

    If I do sermonise, it is about those who preach the sanctity of life but are rather selective about it.

    You may not like it but your reaction and the reactions of those who rejoice in the strets are litle better than those in the Moslem world who danced in joy at the destruction of the Twin Towers.

    I could not give a toss about Bin Laden, his rights or how he dies. I give a toss about those who espouse the rights to life of the evil like those responsible for the deaths of Mia Glassie and the Kahui Twins. I am not justifying Bin Laden in any way, but at least he had a cause and however wrong was driven by that cause. What cause have child killers, who you believe should remain alive, have to justify their actions.

    I am sure Garth McVicar would welcome you as the lost sheep who has seen the error of his ways.

  33. 33

    Brian, you ask,”Would you feel as little empathy for the parents of a murdered child who prayed for or celebrated the death of their child’s killer? That’s sometimes the trouble with absolute principle, it takes little account of human feeling.”
    It’s the in your face celebration of his death that I am uncomfortable with. This does not mean in anyway that I approve of, or condone the attack on the Twin Towers and the subsequent loss of innocent lives.
    I recall your posting on the death of the toddler on Linwood Ave last year (sorry I can’t recall his name) but he was hit by a car driven by a young man who lost control in the wet. His parents showed and explained amazing compassion and understanding towards the driver. They didn’t bay for revenge. perhaps there is a lesson here about empathy and principle.

  34. so an eye for an eye is the justice’ de riguer.American propaganda is a powerful tool judging by reaction here.Hillary Clinton has already warned the present admin that billions more need to be spent on winning over the hearts and minds’.Are the Wall St bankers who own Washington cynical enough to stage manage an execution to re elect their man.Damn right they are.The so called leaders of the free world sitting on sofas to watch a live assasination…wow!Only in a society so dysfunctional that they need to justify invasion and execution.Seems OBL was unarmed,the woman was NOT a human shield,the millionaires mansion was NOT,a helicopter was lost to mechanical failure and blown up?A quick DNA was done before the body was dumped in the sea.Oh and of course the first photos out were photo shopped.Will his death mean they have won the war on terror?Who will be Americas new bogeyman?With WMD Saddam dead and now the mad terrorist however can foreign policy be justified.!

  35. AH:

    “knee-jerk socialist lemming intellectualism”?
    “watermelon social engineering policies”?

    Such as?

    Univesal health care and education?
    Labour laws that protect the vulnerable?
    Allowing consenting adults to do what they wish in their houses?
    An end to force and violence?

    Personally I think youre a bit of a terrorist too, promoting policies that inflict misery…

  36. Hi Brian.
    – Yes, I saw what the Iraqis did with Saddam; you seem to have missed the point I already made agreeing that the way Saddam was killed was wrong, and how outraged we would feel if Gaddafi did a ‘Saddam hanging’ on Obama for killing his son/grandkids.

    – Yes, I am comparing Osama bin Laden with Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron. Osama may have killed 3,000 in one hit, but is that better than Bush Snr who killed 3,000 Panamanians in a few weeks in 1989 when invading Panama and kidnapping drug lord (and his ex-mate) General Noriega? But the real point is – sometimes guilt seems obvious, but we still give a trial to prove it beyond reasonable doubt. Clayton Weatherston seemed pretty guilty, but we still gave him a trial. David Bain seemed guilty, but now he’s acquitted – bet he’s glad we didn’t dispense with trials and appeals.

    But you are right about context – the Nazi 1944 bomb plot to kill Hitler was different, because those guys had little power to stop Hitler, whereas the US could have camped round Osama’s mansion and starved him out. They had the might to do what is right.

    – Osama is made in the image of God, not the other way round. And Osama’s choices are his own, not God’s. My point was – if you kill the guilty, you take away their chance to change their ways. That holds irrespective of whether you believe in God or not.

    – Your response to Ross M and Ben said the NY victims deserved their celebration. I thought about the celebrations after WW1 and WW2, but realised they were celebrating the end of the war, not the death of Hitler per se (which is why the celebrations didn’t happen straight after Hitler killed himself). We can always empathise with victims, and celebrate a just verdict or punishment. But extra-judicial murder? No.

    – Finally Brian, didn’t you post not so long ago (comparing the Weatherston and teacher shot brushing her teeth) on the need for our judiciary to treat all equally without being swayed by the victim’s (and their families) response of hatred or forgiveness? How is that different from asking that – when possible – horrible suspects like Osama be arrested and tried (and not executed) just like anyone else?

    We accept cops may be forced to shoot an armed robber dead to protect the public or themselves sometimes, but normally we expect them to use their overwhelming force to subdue and arrest by non-lethal means if possible. The best comparison is the Napier gunman who shot cops – they surrounded and waited him out. He killed himself, but cops didn’t. The US could have arrested Osama.

  37. 37

    Andrew Paul Wood

    Oh for goodness sake! I agree entirely with you Brian. Ethics are always relative in the real world – the life of an animal is worth less than that of a human if that cold calculation must be made. This wasn’t a high-handed execution of a criminal, this was the elimination of the evil figurehead of a particularly evil group of people who commited an horrific atrocity against hundreds of innocent people. It was an act of war and his removal entirely justifiable. A mad dog was put down, and we don’t usually afford mad dogs the respect of a trial.
    However terrorist acts by radical Muslim groups, as the London Underground bombing is still a threat with or without Osama bin Laden.
    And if were physically possible to lynch the Christchurch earthquake or the Japan tsunami, I would be celebrating that too.

  38. I rather wondered Brian if you just putting forward a Devil’s Advocate position. It appears not. In short it seems wrong that armed soldiers should shoot dead an unarmed wanted man, in his bedroom and make no attempt to arrest him, so that he could face up to a legal prosecution. As others say it is not support for bin Laden. It is consistency against extra-judicial killing

  39. 39

    Such a trial would of course take months, maybe years. And during that time Osama’s suicide bombers would wait patiently for Western law to deliver its verdict. And since it is inconceivable that the accused would be found not guilty, and would be condemned either to death or to imprisonment for life, they would finally accept that justice had been served and abandon their murderous hatred of the West. And we would all live in harmony and peace forever.

    Golly, doesn’t all that straw make a pretty glow? I’m just wondering if you’d have been damning Franklin Roosevelt (and his successor Harry S. Truman) with the same vitriol you’re directing at Russell Norman, for their insistence that war crimes trials be held in Nuremberg and Tokyo rather than summary executions.

    Stalin, on the other hand, wanted them all strung up from the nearest lamp post.

    Frankly, I’d back FDR any day of the week.

    BE: I wonder if you spotted the irony in that paragraph. My point was in response to the argument that, if Osama had been arrested and tried, his followers would not have sought revenge against his captors. My view was simply that the revenge in the form of terrorist attacks would have been prolonged for the period of his trial and conviction.

  40. Two other things.

    You have gone on record as being opposed to torture. Had Bin Laden been captured alive and subjected to torture by the US, would that opposition have been as selective as your opposition to taking life?

    You describe Bin Laden as evil, yet when the Russians were in Afgahnistan he was an ally. Gaddafi, Mubararek, Saddam Hussein while they were of use to the West were provided with arms and everyone turned a blind eye to these arms being used on their own people. When they have passed their use by date they become evil.

    So for you and other who describe Bin Laden as evil there is an element of hypocricy there.

  41. BE: Frankly, your comment and the comments of several others who share your view, are just about enough to send me into the loving arms of Garth McVicar.

    Last I heard Garth McVicar believes in the rule of law and is against execution without trial, so you seem to have moved beyond him!

    More seriously, it seems that the US troops went in all guns blazing, never allowed anyone the opportunity to surrender, and some reports are now saying they were completely unopposed.

    This could be justified by military necessity, and bear in mind that they were operating in a foreign country close to a military base without permission and needed to leave as soon as possible to minimise the risk of the helicopters being brought down by return fire. (by either Bin Laden’s people or the Pakistani forces).

    US soldiers are under no obligation to risk their lives more than necessary, and its likely there was no intention to take Bin Laden alive.

    Its also relevant than the raid was presumably only undertaken because the house was located in a “friendly” country, otherwise it would have been destroyed by missiles causing much greater casualties, and at zero risk to the Americans.

    Your apparent readiness to discard your principles regarding execution, is however surprising.

    Celebrating this execution as empathising with the joy of his victims also seems to be an even stranger attitude for a death penalty opponent. Would Gandhi agree?

    BE: It’s suggested that even Gandhi had a few skeletons in the cupboard. I’ve got to say that it’s encouraging that this site has so many moral puritans who live their lives by absolute principles they never stray from. And I’m still waiting for an answer to my question: were the German officers justified in their attempt to kill Hitler in 1944?

  42. 42

    “So for you and other who describe Bin Laden as evil there is an element of hypocricy there.”

    Nonsense. Bin Laden planned to kill as many innocent people as he possibly could and then shamelessly rejoiced when he was successful. On that basis he can accurately be labelled as evil by any decent person, without a hint of hypocracy, irrespective of that person’s previous relationship with Bin Laden.

  43. To slightly change an old saying:-

    “Evil is in the eye of the beholder”

  44. Bill, you are quite right; Bin Laden did plan to kill thousands of innocent people. So did gadaffi, Hussein, etc, all of whom we have happily worked.

    Western governments and Israel, whether planned or not have killed more innocent people than Bin Laden has ever done. apart from Keith Locke and john Minto, nobody raises their voice in outrage when a drone fire missile kills a family on the Pakistan/Afgahnistan border. To those in that village the person who authorised the firing of that missile is evil.

    Like Brian, your sense of moral outrage is selective. your definition of evil and who qualifies for that title are all too simplistic.

    For once I find myself agreeing with Hone Harawira.

  45. 45

    “Evil is in the eye of the beholder”

    Presumably you think you are being clever. I prefer to be less clever but more straightforward. I think that someone who plans the deaths of thousands of innocent people and then shamelessly rejoices is evil.

    What label would you use ?

    Misguided ?

    Differently principled ?

    Ethically challenged ?

    If you don’t agree they are evil, what would they have to do to be labelled evil in your book ?

  46. the Taleban offered to hand OBL over to the yanks in 2001!No one has hardly heard a word from him since 9/11…he has been the pin up bogeyman for the so called ‘war on terror’.The navy seals were ordered to kill him,and the latest spin,changing every day (could have been wearing a suicide vest)has taken this badly managed PR campaign to the ridiculous.

    BE: ” the latest spin,changing every day (could have been wearing a suicide vest)has taken this badly managed PR campaign to the ridiculous.” As it happens, I completely agree with you.

  47. Brian, I presume you know that every single one of your points justifying the extra-legal killing of Bin Laden could be used to justify similar measures against President Obama, or Mr David Cameron.

    BE: I don’t know that.

  48. you are right brian.you are intelligently right. you are morally right. you are absolutely right. should a clayton weatherston ever lead a bunch of killer clones in nz, i’m with you brian.

  49. One of the main difficulties with this issue is that so many of the elements are irreconcilable.

    Nation states vs international terrorist organisations. Law vs religion. Morality vs necessity. None of these play by the same rules. And everyone sees them differently, so it’s hard, probably impossible, to come to a single agreed position or a ‘right’ answer.

    Actually, that is part of what makes the world such an amazing place, diversity. Usually it’s brilliant but it can and does sometimes put us in conflict with each other.

    In the end, what’s clear is that people make decisions that seem right to them at the time, given their personal paradigms, and are usually aware of the possible consequences. I’m sure OBL was pretty clear what might happen if the US caught him.

    So we can debate right and wrong ’til we’re blue in the face (or the internet equivalent) but in the end it is what it is (and has always been).

    That’s not meant to be fatalistic. I’m not saying don’t debate the issues or try to influence the outcomes as you see fit.

    I’m only suggesting it’s unlikely that the opposing sides (however you define them) will end up holding hands and singing kumbaya (sp?) any time soon. And what a bland world it would be if they did.

    BE: What a great comment. Thanks.

  50. 50

    I wonder if you spotted the irony in that paragraph.

    I spotted the heavy handed sarcasm directed at an argument I’ve not seen anyone — let alone Russell Norman — make. I’ve challenged several other people running similar lines elsewhere to provide links to such statements, and they’ve (as yet) failed to do so.

    Ironically enough, you’ve nicely echoed Winston Churchill’s case at the Moscow Conference for summary execution of the Nazi leadership at the end of the war. He thought any trial would feed neo-Nazi sympathies, lead to violent reprisals against occupying troops and attempts to free them. Churchill was wrong; and I think you could grant that denying Stalin the chance to export Soviet-style show trials was not a bad thing either.

    That’s not to say the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials magically obliterated the far-right in either Germany or Japan. Anyone familiar with the squalid career of David Irving would know that they aren’t universally accepted either.

    But here’s what I find particularly ironic — when did we start letting criminals dictate to the justice system in this country? In Australia and New Zealand, we don’t execute gang members or associates of organised crime with track records of attempted witness intimidation, jury tampering and violent harassment of judges and police officers.

    BE: After reading comments on things I’ve written, it sometimes occurs to me that some (occasionally many) of the comments seem out of proportion to what I actually said. So here are a couple of the things I said in this post:

    “For anyone who believes in the rule of law the assassination– for that is what it was – of Osama Bin Laden by American navy SEALS in Pakistan, raises serious questions about the legal, ethical and strategic justification of the exercise. American troops on foreign soil execute an accused person without benefit of arrest, trial, legal defence or a legitimate verdict of guilt.”

    “As a committed opponent of the death penalty and someone horrified by Simon Power’s prolonged assault here at home on the rights of defendants in criminal trials, I know this ought to bother me. But it doesn’t.”

    “I’m with the cheering crowds of New Yorkers at Ground Zero. I rejoice with them at the removal from this earth of a purely evil creature who premeditatedly planned, directed, celebrated and boasted of the long-range slaughter of thousands of civilians – men, women and children.”

    “And can all this be squared with my respect for the rule of law, my opposition to the death penalty or my criticism of National’s Minister of Justice for limiting the rights of New Zealanders accused of crime? Not easily I admit.”

    “But it may be that terrorism is a crime unique in its intent and its effects and one that requires a unique response, if justice is to be done and be seen to have been done in the minds of those whose friends and loved ones were the victims of that crime.”

    None of this seems particularly extreme to me. Its intention was to illustrate an ethical dilemma for many thinking people. It was also written after the event. I wasn’t recommending any course of action with regard to anyone else. I was simply saying that a monster had been assassinated, that it didn’t bother me and that I understood and empathised with the reaction of the New Yorkers at Ground Zero.

    I may be overstating this now myself, but it feels as though I’m suddenly being accused of wanting to bump off every body on earth I don’t agree with. I don’t think that’s what I wrote. Nor do I thing it can be inferred from what I wrote.

  51. Brian – our positions are not principles if they change according to the context. That is not absurd rigidity, it is principle. Principle can have subtle nuances (thou shalt not kill, unless in self defense say), but these should not change unless you are acknowledging your past principle was flawed.

    – on the WW2 bomb plot to kill Hitler, I already said I felt the plotters were okay. It is a question of relative force of the parties to the conflict.

    That is, von Stauffenberg and chums could have arrested Hitler (ie mount a coup), but they (and I) judge that as long as Hitler was alive, the coup leaders would not be accepted as new legitimate leaders of Germany. And given there were only a few plotters against huge numbers of loyal Hitler troops, they would have had to fight of an impossible number of troops trying to rescue Hitler. So they thought their only option was to kill Hitler by bomb.

    An aside – note that they (unsuccessfully) bombed Hitler in a military bunker, away from all civilians. No question von S and mates were terrorists in this plot.

    By contrast, the US killed Osama in a (nominally) friendly country, and had overwhelming force compared to Osama’s household. Even if the US troops had been attacked by surrounding townspeople once word got out what the troops were up to, the US military had the numbers to grab Osama, even if it became a protracted siege.

    That is the difference between war and civil arrests Brian – the police have overwhelming force to make arrests; competing armies may not. If the criminal is armed, the disparity of force evens up, so police may be forced to shoot the criminal. In war, the soldiers usually don’t have overwhelming force (when they do, the smaller army often surrenders), which is why they shoot each other.

    BE: It seems to me is that your entire argument here is about context affecting principles, a position with which I agree. Bumping off Osama without a trial would have have been (more) acceptabe if he’d had twenty guards with rifles defending him. In fact, we might have felt better about it, but it would still have breached the principle that summary execution without trial is wrong.

    Perhaps we could agree to differ on this now. And you might like to have a look at my reply to Craig.

  52. you are in a space bob, as are most new zealanders, where you can afford unbending principles. you appear to translate the holding of unbending principals into having a superior sense of goodness and justice.life is not that simple and it is impossible to get real balance when we are mere spectators and not actually involved and party to all information.and unless we were there we cannot be certain.

  53. ‘if you don’t like my principles…I have others’..G.Marx.

  54. 54

    Well, I certainly won’t be crying a river for Bin Laden, HOWEVER…..SHG, RMH, Millsy, Bob, Ianmac, Morrissey, Craig Ranapia and various others all make very good points and Ben (May 4 16:57, May 5 11:46) absolutely hits the nail on the head.

    US and Israeli State Terrorism has been far more leathal than (and as equally vicious as) that perpertrated by Islamic extremists.

    If you “rejoice in the removal from this earth of purely evil creatures who premeditatedly (plan/direct/slaughter) thousands of civilians – men, women and children”, if you believe that justice needs to “be seen to be done in the minds of those whose friends and loved ones were the victims (of terrorism)”, then – to be consistent – you should be calling for the extra-judicial killing of Bush, Clinton, Netanyahu, Sharon, Barak, Shimon Peres, and Olmert- to name just a few.

    Or do only Western victims count ? And is it only possible to be a “terrorist” if you’re Arab/Muslim and bearded ? One of “them” rather than one of “us”.

    BE: Oh dear, you’ve commented on one monster’s fate, Brian, why haven’t you commented on all the others in modern history? Because this event has just happened and it’s the event we’re talking about.

  55. Craig. I like both your posts. Wish I had your command of Language and your succinct expression of the issues.
    I am still surprised that Brian supports the extra-judicial killing. In another world it would seem wrong that such force be used against women and children and an unarmed man.
    But wait till Warner Bros put out the movie. Then the truth will be out. Ha.

  56. 56

    Well, I certainly won’t be crying a river over Bin Laden…..HOWEVER…..Bob, Craig Ranapia, RMH, SHG, millsy, Ianmac, Morrissey and others make some very good points…..and Ben (May 4 16:57, May 5 11:46) absolutely hits the nail on the head.

    US and Israeli State Terrorism has been far more lethal – and just as vicious – as anything perpertrated by Islamic extremists.

    If you’re going to “rejoice…at the removal from this earth of a purely evil creature who premeditatedly planned, directed, celebrated and boasted of the long-range slaughter of thousands of civilians – men, women and children”, if you want to see a quick end to those who indulge in the “premeditated and careless taking of innocent lives”, if you’re keen that justice “be seen to be done in the minds of those whose friends and loved ones were the victims (of terrorism)”, then – to be morally consistent – you’ll have to start calling for the extra-judicial killing of Bush, Clinton, Netanyahu, Olmert, Sharon, Barak and Shimon Peres – to name just a few.

    Or are only Westerners the victims of “terrorism” ? And are only bearded Arabs/Muslims terrorists ? Where’s the Righteous Indignation against the men-with-mass-blood-on-their-hands named above ?

  57. BE: “I’m still waiting for an answer to my question: were the German officers justified in their attempt to kill Hitler in 1944?”

    Totally, Hitler was presumably more evil than Bin Laden, but I’m not a “committed opponent of the death penalty”. A more interesting question is where you would draw the line the other way – would you as a “committed opponent of the death penalty” also approve the extra-judicial execution of say, Gaddafi? How about Milosevic? or Radko Mladic? The old favourites of Stalin and Mao? (who were responsible for more deaths than any of the above, including Hitler) Pinochet maybe?

    For that matter, how many of the above would you approve for execution following a trial?

    Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” but your lack of qualms at this execution, and support of the cheering crowds gloating over it is surprising.

  58. D-D-D-Damn makes a good point, and opens up a can of worms. If bad bad Bin Laden deserves execution for the thousands of deaths he caused, then who else should be on our hit list? I imagine the list is long.

    In terms of efficacy I think Bin Laden’s death will make not one jot of difference, Al-Qaeda will carry on business as usual. So why do it?
    One angle is that Bin Laden is the poster bad boy for the War on Terrorism; he is a symbol, the archetypal evil one. We kill the symbol of evil – we remove evil. Yeah right.
    As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said “ If only it were so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a part of their own heart?”

    A far scarier angle emerging from some us sources (Vali Nasr, senior U.S. State Department adviser on Pakistan and Afghanistan and others) is this operation opens the door for the US to focus on Pakistan as the problem, not Afghanistan. Should we expect more operations into Pakistan like this one?

  59. 59

    Osama Bin Larden was an evil man and we are well rid of him. Anyone who says anything less is supporting a mass murderer. You only have to watch America’s most wanted to appreciate the impact crime has on its victims.

    BE: Indeed. But you’re almost in a minority of one (two if you count me in), Peter, in showing any empathy for the victims or their fellow citizens, friends and realatives in this affair. How unseemly of them to celebrate the assassination of the man who ordered their loved ones’ killing!

  60. The piece you wrote was entitled “Why I feel no qualms about the assassination of OBL”. The only possible interpretation of that is that you approved of, agreed with, condoned, supported – call it what you will – OBL’s extra-judicial killing. And that’s what most of the contributors here have been alarmed about. You dance on the head of a pin by saying that you were expressing solidarity with the affected New Yorkers etc etc – but that does not alter the plain fact that you are happy that someone, in 2011, can be ordered killed by the leader of another country, without any recourse to due process.

  61. when assassinated, osama was not a spent man. he had 10 telephones, several computers, 2 phone numbers sewn into his clothing.
    he was still in active communication with his foot soldiers- masterminding ambush acts of cruel terror on innocent men, women and children.
    bob believes we may kill in our defense. it is done.

  62. I cannot accept your logic re the killing of bin laden and particularly your rejoicing at his execution unarmed alongside his wife. International law should be not negotiable and cannot be manipulated as it suits, especially by the so called democratic free world. I don’t see terrorism as a different crime to murder it is only the scale and the randomness that differentiates it. Obama will struggle with this decision. Politically expedient..yes. Populist against a redneck opposition…yes. Capture and trial, dangerous and uncertain…yes. Cold blooded execution morally right…no. No right thinking person should have admired bin laden but after the cheering dies down his assassination in this manner will devalue this presidency and the authority of the United States.

  63. Dictionary (Concise OED) definition of ‘evil': bad; harmful.

    Well on that basis there are quite a few of us who at some time in our live might expect a visit from some Seals.

    This man is evil so we are justified in killing him. It is all too glib. I am glad, Peter Elliott and Brian Edwards that you both consider yourselves fully qualified to judge who is evil and dispense justice on that basis.

  64. Brian, you profess that you “don’t know” that another international marauding force could kill David Cameron and Barack Obama for exactly the same reasons invoked to assassinate the former U.S. protégé Osama Bin Laden.

    Your evident jubilation at this heroic* operation has possibly clouded your judgement. Otherwise, you would see that Osama Bin Laden was by no means the only person who has “premeditatedly planned, directed, celebrated and boasted of the long-range slaughter of thousands of civilians – men, women and children.”

    Using your own criteria, then you must surely support a hit squad being sent into London, Washington, Jerusalem, and, if they’re going to go after supporters and dupes, into Paris, Ottawa, Canberra and Wellington as well.

    * Well, it seemed to be heroic, before the White House confessed that its initial reports were completely untrue.

  65. i cannot think of a parrallel to 9/11. who was warned there was trouble coming? which victims knew al quaeda existed? mass killings of civilians in a place in peace. if ever there was an an invitation to a war – that was it.get real.

  66. ‘when assassinated, osama was not a spent man. he had 10 telephones, several computers, 2 phone numbers sewn into his clothing.
    he was still in active communication with his foot soldiers- masterminding ambush ‘

    must have been very awkward clambering around with that inventory….did he wear it to bed?

  67. 67

    “Osama Bin Larden was an evil man and we are well rid of him. Anyone who says anything less is supporting a mass murderer.”

    Peter Elliot: Anything? Like actually thinking a fair trial would have been preferable, no matter how many threats of reprisals had come from terrorist scum? I believe the only response that would pass moderation here is: What a load of bally tosh, Sir.

    I would retort that the best way to support terrorist thugs who have no respect for human life or civilized values is to descend to their level. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

    BE: Indeed. But you’re almost in a minority of one (two if you count me in), Peter, in showing any empathy for the victims or their fellow citizens, friends and realatives in this affair.

    And that’s just absurd. You can show empathy with people, and still find their behaviour or statements distasteful.

    Twenty eight years ago, a drunk driver killed my eldest foster sister (20 years old) and three others.

    When he was sentenced to prison, I remember wishing that he’d be beaten, raped and eventually killed before his pathetically short sentence was over. I also said more than once how much I’d have liked to burn down the bar he’d been drinking at for most of that day, with the publican and his staff trapped inside to burn to death with their families.

    I still hate the man with a passion, but I no longer harbour rape fantasies or wish death upon anyone. Not because he’s a good man. Not because I’ll shed a single tear when he shuffles off this mortal coil. But because I’m better than that, and exulting in the death and degradation of another is not a fit memorial to my sister.

    If that makes me some kind of sanctimonious terrorist-coddling sociopath, so be it.

  68. bje: Are you talking about 9/11/1973 or 9/11/2001?

  69. as per my post- i’m talking about 9/11/2001.
    the 20th century battles between capitalism and communism have, i agree, been prolonged and hideous -in russia, china, germany….and chile- and they have been about factions within their own countries- no matter the propaganda exerted by outer states.
    i must stick to what i posted.

  70. Well, Brian, it looks like you have the support of the intelligentsia. In a rapturous tribute entitled “Daring Raid Brightens May’s Beauty”, the thoughtful and compassionate PAUL HOLMES raves about “what will become a commando raid of legend”. He is particularly enthusiastic about the coup de grace: “They blew half his face off.”

    I haven’t seen Holmes so excited since he was cheering on the Israeli descent on Gaza in 2008-9.

    So you’re in good company, Brian…

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10723905

  71. bje, what on earth are you talking about? Chile was not a “battle between capitalism and communism”; the democratically elected government was overthrown in a U.S.-sponsored coup.

    The problem was democracy, not communism. Just like it was in Vietnam, Guatemala. Indonesia and Iran.

    Rather than gamely and stupidly “sticking to what you have posted”, I suggest you refrain from posting ignorant comments, and start reading. Seriously, that is.

    Come back in a year or so.

  72. 72

    “Brian, you profess that you “don’t know” that another international marauding force could kill David Cameron and Barack Obama for exactly the same reasons invoked to assassinate the former U.S. protégé Osama Bin Laden.”

    Your posts are superficially plausible and reasonable, but sentiments like this betray a warped perspective in my opinion. Cameron and Obama don’t have anything in common with OBL. I see absolutely no evidence that either of them are anything other than decent, capable men trying to do appallingly difficult jobs to the best of their ability. They both are held to account by electorates who expect them to “do the right thing” when confronted with the moral dilemmas those jobs throw up constantly.

    The “job” OBL had was to try to return as much of the world as he possibly could to a barbarous middle ages. Killing as many people as possible who resisted this idea was his only policy. He didn’t know what a moral dilemma was.

  73. morrissey,communism had everything to do with an implication of serious political threat in the eyes of many(rightly or wrongly-i’m not judging here.) the major communist movements at the turn of last century to the time of mikhail gorbachov-have everyting to do with democracy/or lack of it. powerful governments of the time, like germany- and later, usa, decided to take the consequential approach(a decision for what they perceived rightly or wrongly as achieving the greater good, by supporting non-communist regimes and/or attacking communism.)nice chatting morrissey. peace be with you.

  74. the USA has the most military might.So they make the rules.The pen being mightier than the sword is just another popular misconception.

  75. ok, Morrissey, I’ll have a go…

    “Chile was not a “battle between capitalism and communism”; the democratically elected government was overthrown in a U.S.-sponsored coup”.

    Er, not really anywhere near a full and accurate picture. Due to a quirk in the Chilean constitution, Allende, who gained less than 40% of the total vote in a 3-way contest, treated his election as a mandate for radical left-wing change. Sort of the same way the left is continually crying ‘foul’ over Rogernomics.

    Allende’s over-throw was certainly with the help of the US – it was pretty much de rigueur for both the US and USSR to meddle and fight each other by proxy in other countries during the Cold War.

    Nevertheless there with significant popular support for Pinochet. After all, classic Marxism insists that the counter-revolutionaries should be easily defeated by the workers, who would rise up in support of their new paradise. Or have I not been reading sufficiently or widely enough, including the extent of the ‘popular support’ Allende had achieved?

    Doesn’t excuse the subsequent brutality of the Pinochet regime, but the parading of Allende as some socialist saint, or the view that the 1973 coup was more pernicious than any other, left or right, is tedious, tiresome, and self-serving.

  76. Why was unarmed Osama not kidnapped?
    Why was an unarmed Osama bin Laden assassinated? This is a questions that arises in many minds. The US should have been abducted and brought him to the United States to stand trial.
    What is the difference between justice and revenge is an issue that confuse and confound the law abiding people.
    After all Americans say bin Laden was unarmed. The 80 American commandos could have simply kidnapped him, Eichmann-style, and brought him back to the United States alive rather than tossing his body irreligiously and disrespectfully into the ocean?
    Examine the treatment of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of 9/11, who awaits a military commission in Guantánamo Bay. Most people would agree that bin Laden should have received similar trial not revenge. This is difficult to be reconciled with the system of justice that prevails in the egalitarian and enlightened West.
    Take the case of Eichmann and Saddam Hussein. Did they receive true justice by appearing in courts of law and were they sentenced to death under the international rule of law? Was not Osama bin Laden unceremoniously treated to a revenge killing for his unproved crimes on 9/11 by meeting a violent and summary end without ever receiving his day in court? Many murderous leaders with an incalculable and un-washable amount of blood on their hands, and yet some received conventional justice, while bin Laden met his fate from a swifter and more wrathful style of biblical vengeance. Double standard is the order of the day.
    Is the world we live in a moral universe or an oppressed one? In the moral universe, justice and vengeance are mirror images of one another. There can be no justice unless victims feel avenged, and revenge is never just unless it is proportionate. In cases of mass murder, retaliating “measure for measure,” an “eye for an eye,” “tit for tat,” is admittedly more difficult, but retaliation is still very visible as we in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. The sense of proportion is imprecise, regardless of what form it takes.

    Moreover, on trial he would have exposed his american partners on the conspiracy

  77. Allende spouted socialist ideals but he loved the trappings of the capitalist lifestyle. In the end, he copped it right in the eye.

  78. ls-the pens send out the swords.

  79. 79

    Off topic but relevant since so many people are talking up the timing of the hit and its supposedly freaky alignment with the day of (the announcement of) Hitler’s death: yes absolutely von Stauffenberg and the others were right to try to kill Hitler, in fact their only faults lay in bumbling bomb placement and bad timing.
    IMHO, 1943 would have been a much better time to shred Hitler and sue for peace, as the Germans were still head to head in Russia and had no second front to defend.
    In the end what happened had to happen and it affected the global balance of power for the next 55 years.
    Bin Laden? Minor league, and shortly to be forgotten by even the handwringers who think there’s a question over whether he was evil or not.

  80. L.S.”must have been awkward clambering round with that inventory… did he wear it to bed?”
    don’t know, i’m not one of his wives.

  81. I am Christian in my beliefs and faith. I do not believe anyone has the right to take another’s life. But, on this occasion, it’s ok.

    I also believe that both Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden will have continued to cause death, had they lived.

    One of the very great differences between the people who write on this forum, and Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, is tolerance. Adolf Hitler hated the Jews with a passion. And the communists. And blacks. He was absolutely intolerant of any of those races and their creeds. His answer was to help the world by exterminating them. And no doubt he had his eyes on others – had he succeeded with those groups we no doubt would then have found out who was next to be expunged.

    Osama Bin Laden was no different. He was also intolerant. He claimed to be Islamic, yet Islam is a peaceful religion. He did not represent the great majority of Islamists, who actually wish to live in peace with other faiths, including Christianity. But Bin Laden’s goal was to rid the world of Christianity, which he saw as most strongly represented by America. Had he expunged America, who would have been next? Indeed I believe it is the goal of the Islamic fundamentalists, led by Bin Laden, to wipe out all other faiths and convert the world to believers in Mohammad. He would stop at nothing – like Hitler.

    As said in my opening, I do not believe anyone has the right to take another’s life. But in these cases (Hitler and Bin Laden) it is ok – both were committed to intolerance and dedicated to the taking of life, and this would have continued no matter how imprisoned they were.

    John Stokes

  82. There’s a war on – there will be casualties.

    Religious zealots of any kind tend to have an unbalancing effect on society, but the corpse of a Muslim leader drives the faithful to extreme measures. Remember the Irani Ayotollah who passed away 25 or so years ago? His body was passed around over the heads of half a million mourners in the streets of Tehran for so long bits fell off it and they couldn’t find enough of him to effect a proper burial. Dunno what happened to the 24 hour rule but it didn’t seem to apply then.

    So a bullet between the peepers and a quick splash sounds to me to be as dignified as the West dare afford – we’ll deal with the consequences later. Personally I’d prefer the Americans to have just killed the witnesses, torched the DNA away, claimed bin Laden wasn’t in at the time of the raid and to just scale down the search over the next 10 years…

  83. John Stokes….nice to see they have your approval,given that you don’t believe anyone has a right to take a life.I’m sure a man with your profound intelligence realises Hitler committed suicide.

  84. 84

    Andrew Paul Wood

    BE: It’s suggested that even Gandhi had a few skeletons in the cupboard. I’ve got to say that it’s encouraging that this site has so many moral puritans who live their lives by absolute principles they never stray from. And I’m still waiting for an answer to my question: were the German officers justified in their attempt to kill Hitler in 1944?

    This is an issue I’ve tackled here http://upthearts.artbash.co.nz/2009/09/23/good-germans-and-bad-history-20th-century-german-history-as-a-movie/

    It’s a tricky one, because their motives were only marginally better than Hitlers. My gut feeling is that they just wanted more of the same under new aristocratic management, less concerned with persecuting Jews and more likely to have united with the allies against the Soviets.

  85. sorry L.S.-penny has finally dropped!!!! good one.yeah -his jim jams would have been heavy!

  86. Here’s Noam Chomsky’s view on the death of bin Laden. Interesting.

    http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/2652/noam_chomsky_my_reaction_to_os/