I have had a number of reactions to the announced death of Osama bin Laden. None of them involved cheering. Fortunately, I discover I am not alone in finding the festivities at Ground Zero and the White House gates immediately following the announcement disturbing.
Some Americans have suggested that this isn't "the American way", while others insist that it is. Some have said it is derogatory to the grieving of the 9/11 victims by their families. Others think it is normal to wear face paint, wear and wave flags, and shout "USA! USA!" as if the high school football team had just scored the winning touchdown. They are more likely to believe that they as New Yorkers, or Americans were personally attacked by the 9/11 bombings. At the very least, they believe Team USA lost on a cheap goal, and now it is time to celebrate payback. They like to shout that "justice has been served".
Again, I am not alone in thinking that justice would have been better served differently. Justice is usually served in American values and legal ideals by bringing a criminal to trial, with a proper defense, a weighing of evidence, and meting out the appropriate judgment and sentence. I immediately thought of the Afghani offer to hand over Bin Laden IF he were given a fair trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague.
That was after they refused to give him over, and after the Bush administration threatened to "bomb them back to the Stone Age", but right before Bush declared war on Afghanistan as one of his wars on terror. Aside from all the other motives for declaring war on Afghanistan, some more noble and less oil-filled than others (Afghanistan sits on a strategic oil pipe route), in general the US doesn't like the International Criminal Court (ICC) much. While it has signed the treaty for its creation, it hasn't ratified the treaty, and does not participate.
Originally, it seemed that US reluctance about the ICC--aside from a general reluctance to participate in international organizations that they don't control--derived from the threat that Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State to Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, would be indicted for all those CIA take outs of democratically elected leaders around the world, effecting regime-change Mafia style, and backing/ fomenting wars that put military dictators in power for decades. However, given the mandate of the ICC to prosecute only crimes committed after its legal enforcement on July 1, 2002, that would seem unlikely. Nevertheless, President George W Bush must stay close to home, or at least within the US, lest he be held for indictment for the offenses of his Presidency.
International Criminal Court membership as of March 2011, Green Signed and Ratified, Orange Signed but Not Ratified
The confusing roll out/outing of information about the attack and killing of Bin Laden doesn't help of course. The initial story of the decisive, gutsy President Obama, who had the courage to order the attack, resulting in the firefight that US forces won against a protected and armed Bin Laden hiding behind a woman forced to act as a human shield has changed considerably.
I immediately thought of the story of the rescue of the brave Private Jessica Lynch, the young American who fought single handedly, wounded, holding off Iraqi attackers who had ambushed her peaceful supply convoy. Except that after all the propaganda video of the hospital rescue with the night vision goggles, and the Hollywood production values (literally), the welcoming home, and the rehabilitation, it turns out Private Lynch's rifle had jambed right away. As she said, "I went down on my knees praying". Jessica Lynch's greatest courage and biggest contribution to the war effort came from her setting the story straight. It seems they grow them good in Palestine, West Virginia.
One might say the same of US Ranger "Pat" Tillman, the NFL football star who gave up mega-bucks to fight in Afghanistan. After all the medals were awarded, the public funeral held for the hero who had charged solo up a hill urging his men on to fight a losing battle to the death--again after his convoy was ambushed--his family's persistence revealed a death by friendly fire of a man within his platoon ranks, and a high level cover-up for propaganda purposes.
At most recent recounting that I have heard, Osama bin Laden was killed on the third floor of his home, after a courier who was armed was killed, another unarmed courier, his unarmed son, and an unarmed as yet unidentified woman was killed in cross fire. His wife was shot in the leg after trying to rush the armed Navy SEALs to defend him. He was shot after he moved, presumably reaching for arms piled at the door.
This version has evolved partly to explain, or explain away, other versions that had inconvenient narrative turns. After the initial reports that Bin Laden was shot while unarmed and standing unprotected, the maybe he would be wearing a suicide vest explanation was tried until there was speculation that, if unarmed and not attempting to defend himself or show a clear sign of surrender, he may have been shot sleeping in his bed. Not such good propaganda value that.
Also, I guess others were wondering, as was I, about the wounded wife who was left behind when the SEALs left with Bin Laden's body. Shot in the leg? How badly? Where? Femoral artery? Bled to death? Bled to death with her children crying beside her? It seems that the extraordinarily clueless up to then Pakistani Army had the knowledge and wherewithal to find and capture her, the children, maybe 2 more wives, and another injured man. She is talking about the raid, as is a 12 year old daughter who witnessed her father's death--at least to Pakistanis, because the last I heard or read the US was still trying to gain access to interrogate further.
Such a nasty word, "interrogate", a far cry from "interview". And what with all the George W Bush cronies coming out of the woodwork to claim partial credit for this Special Ops "victory", one is reminded of "enhanced interrogation techniques", now euphemistically called "aggressive interrogation". Indeed, let us hope that the Obama administration, which signed extensions to so many of Bush's "war measures", doesn't go back on it's rejection of torture. Would there be a pep rally for information resulting from the waterboarding of the Mrs, or Bint Osama Bin Laden?
When I began this post, I was still looking for a better term than "pep rally", since such rallies are usually held before the big game. Just now I thought of "victory celebration". I am sticking with pep rally though, because in fact, "the big game" is still being played. The War on Terror goes on, though renamed a variety of wars or actions. There are still combat troops in Afghanistan. Iraq has been a "don't let this happen to you" for MENA countries seeking democracy the more natural away. Guantanamo is still open for incarceration and "military trials". So, pep rally it is.
Your comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?
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