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The death of Osama bin Laden. What does it profit a country?

The books and the films are coming out. The subject is a sure winner. The American tracking down and execution of Osama bin Laden in May of 2011. Has there ever been a better example of Good triumphing over Evil? Of Yankee courage and cleverness? “The bin Laden operation was a landmark achievement by our country, by our military, by our Intelligence Community, and by our Agency,” said the acting Director of the CIA, Michael Morell.[1]

But even if everything the government has told us about the operation is true … How important was it really? What did it change in Washington’s glorious War on Terror? American taxpayers are not spending a penny less on the bloody spectacle. American soldiers still die in Afghanistan as before. American drones still bring extreme anxiety, death and destruction to children and parents in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. Guantánamo still holds numerous damned souls who wonder why they are there as they bang their head against a brick wall.

Anti-American terrorists are still being regularly created as a result of US anti-terrorist operations. (Even the way bin Laden was “buried” increased the hatred.) It’s a mass-production terrorist assembly line working three shifts even if the bin Laden model has been discontinued. If only one in 10,000 of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims is moved to want to attack the US because of Washington’s repeated outrages against Muslims, the United States will have created a pool of 160,000 Muslims devoted to seeking revenge against Americans.

“Remember when the United States had a drug problem and then we declared a War on Drugs, and now you can’t buy drugs anymore? The War on Terrorism will be just like that,” declared author David Rees in 2008.[2]

The fear mongering remains as is; airport security has not gotten any less stupid, embarrassing, or destructive of civil liberties than before, only worse. “Will that be frisked or naked pictures with your airline ticket, sir?” The No-Fly list grows bigger with each passing day, listing people who are too guilty to fly, but too innocent to charge with anything.

Wherever you go — “If you see something, say something!”

People are entrapped as much as ever, charged with some form of terrorism (or “terrorism”), staged and financed by government agents, put away for terribly long periods. The State Department puts a country on its terrorist list, then the FBI persecutes Americans for helping someone in that country, perhaps no more than medical aid.

And surveillance of Americans … the science fiction methods are expanded without end … no escape from Fortress America. Protestors in America are monitored and harassed and recorded as much as before; witness the recent revelations concerning the FBI/Homeland Security/et al and the Occupy Movement. The Patriot Act is still the law of the land, now joined by the National Defense Authorization Act which makes it easier than ever to hold people in indefinite detention, for any reason, or no reason, including American citizens. And now we have the president’s clandestine “kill list”.[3] Could it be any worse if bin Laden were still alive?

Notes

[1] Washington Post, December 22, 2012

[2] In his book Get Your War On

[3] New York Times, May 29, 2012


About the Author

William Blum

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William Blum
William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of numerous books, including "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II" and "Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower". 
  • James Carlson

    So William Blum would have us believe that our nation’s hunting down and execution of Osama bin Laden didn’t really accomplish much. He apparently sees little value in “the story.” He should understand that it is stories that sustain us. They have such great symbolic value that all sides have tried to control that story since it first came out. They have such great symbolic value that President Obama rightfully ordered the body be buried at sea, and yet we have nonetheless seen attempts by numerous groups to turn that into other stories as well.

    Stories are important. William Blum’s failure to recognize this doesn’t even touch his primary reasons for believing that the hunting down and execution of Osama bin Laden didn’t really accomplish much, however. Apparently he’s distressed that “Anti-American terrorists are still being regularly created as a result of US anti-terrorist operations.”

    And they’re being regularly caught, and oftentimes killed. So what? Criminals have always existed and have always been hunted down. The type of crime nor the means used to successfully hunt those committing them is not the issue. The issue is the success of the hunt, which should be celebrated. Terrorism is murder. The fact that it’s being accomplished by people who justify their crime is irrelevant, and the fact that they do so as a result of operations that successfully fulfilled their intent to hunt down other murderers is an insult to civilized politics. Hell, it’s an insult to everything that abhors evil and refuses to adopt its methods.

    In response to, “Remember when the United States had a drug problem and then we declared a War on Drugs, and now you can’t buy drugs anymore? The War on Terrorism will be just like that,” declared author David Rees in 2008:

    Remember when Batman declared a War on Crime in 1939 and now there’s no more crime? David Rees shouldn’t make stupid analogies that have nothing to do with the point he’s trying to make. Try telling someone with a dead mother or father as a result of murder that we shouldn’t bother trying to stop such crimes because we can’t stop such crimes. Try telling that person that there’s no value in bringing that murderer to justice, because doing so isn’t going to stop the next guy who wants to kill somebody’s mom or dad, or — even worse — doing so might just piss off someone enough that he’ll be motivated to do the same thing. Grow up, for God’s sake. Criminals have always been hunted down for a reason. NOT hunting them down is worse. It means you’ve already surrendered to everybody who not only threatens you, but also frightens you. And you’re worth more than that.

    If Willima Blum wants to complain about airport security, let him talk specifics. Nobody likes it. I don’t like it. But it does save lives. It has already done so. Does he think giving in to what terrorists demand will prevent others from using the same means? The world is different now. It has been redefined by criminals. He doesn’t like it? Neither do I. Tough! What does he recommend we do? Ignore the murderers?

    William Blum says the “State Department puts a country on its terrorist list, then the FBI persecutes Americans for helping someone in that country, perhaps no more than medical aid.” Perhaps. Name one. There are plenty of Americans giving away plenty of Bibles to North Korean and Iranian Christians, and none of them have been persecuted by the FBI for doing so. If you have an actual issue, raise it. “Perhaps” is a pathetic argument.

    But I just love his last argument: “And surveillance of Americans … the science fiction methods are expanded without end … no escape from Fortress America.” As if that’s the fault of the War on Terror. In case he hasn’t noticed it, surveillance of Americans is being carried out by private concerns. The “FBI/Homeland Security/et al” has very, very little to do with it. I’m not a big fan of The Patriot Act, nor the National Defense Authorization Act, but neither has anything at all to do with the surveillance of Americans that comes anywhere near what corporations are doing inside and outside their own buildings, so let’s not tear apart our pursuit of justice for such insignificant reasons. If William Blum doesn’t like the laws, they can be changed.

    William Blum asks “Could it be any worse if bin Laden were still alive?” Yes, it could. If he were alive, our system of justice would be just a little bit unfulfilled. It has now been fulfilled that much more — and that means over 3000 criminal deaths, so, in my opinion, that fulfillment counts for something. It means our government has done part of its job, while William Blum is merely whining and making charges he’s failed to establish.

    • dubinsky

      Carlson, that was a fine comment.

    • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

      Terrorism is murder.

      So is extrajudicial assassination.

      • James Carlson

        Only when guilt is an issue, and arrest with little risk is possible. The refusal to submit yourself to judgment requires a more assertive response than requesting surrender. There was nothing extrajudicial about bin Laden’s execution. He had year’s to defend himself, but continued to murder instead. As a result, his execution became a judicial responsibility. And it was very properly carried out.

        • JG

          Do you honestly believe the story of bin Laden’s recent death in Pakistan? Even the CIA (bin Laden’s handler) admit that almost certainly he died of renal failure in Afghanistan in November 2001. Hence the lack of evidence for the recent raid and killing.

          • James Carlson

            What I honestly believe is that your paranoia and belief in conspiracy solutions that you apparently lack the means, the will, and the temerity to properly assess may have a medical origin and should probably be looked into a little deeper for that reason. Can’t be too careful, you know.

        • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

          Extrajudicial assassination is murder by definition.

          • James Carlson

            This was not an “extrajudicial” solution. “Extrajudicial” factors would necessarily apply only under specific conditions — the evident willingness of a defendant to surrender himself to judgment being only one of those conditions. You can’t just call a response “extrajudicial” because it satisfies some current, arbitrary sense of outrage that you feel. When a defendant refuses to submit himself to common arrest, refuses to suffer any process of legal judgment, refuses to deny either specific or general charges of criminal behavior, refuses to defend his character or explain his physical acts from the near-universal charges of abhorrent, commonly defined and unconditional standards of behavior applied worldwide, and instead continues to address issues of anonymous and aggressively uncivilized murder and the organized criminality that the various cells and groups under his immediate command engage in, that defendant necessarily waves by his acts, his arrogance, and his contempt for the value of human life any and all consideration for either judicial response or mercy. Any “extrajudicial” qualities to the responses of those attempting to formulate and apply a necessary solution to the illegality that was thereby imposed upon our world by this man, especially in light of the immediate danger to innocents everywhere that his continued freedom to impose his will represented, became a cloak that this man willingly donned, arrogantly celebrated, and was appropriately responded to by Seal Team Six. More to the point, historically, these tenets have been traditionally authored, regularly maintained, vigorously approved, and accepted in full as necessary injunctions by near-universal judicial authority, making any such label of “extrajudicial” quality inappropriate, neglectful of known facts, expressions originating in ignorance of the subject, and the irresponsible endeavor of someone who has either failed to properly understand the issues addressed or has refused to consider their actual import. You can call a zebra a fish all you want, but as soon as you try to return that zebra to what you consider his appropriate environment, you’ll always end the day with the same thing, one that belies your conclusions: a dead zebra with lungs full of water.

          • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

            It was an extrajudicial assassination, by definition.

  • Addison Reuss

    “The issue is the success of the hunt, which should be celebrated. Terrorism is murder. The fact that it’s being accomplished by people who justify their crime is irrelevant, and the fact that they do so as a result of operations that successfully fulfilled their intent to hunt down other murderers is an insult to civilized politics. Hell, it’s an insult to everything that abhors evil and refuses to adopt its methods.”

    The hypocrisy of seeing the world through this pathetic lens of pure good and pure evil, goes on everyday and should be chastised at every opportunity. WE are the leading terrorist state in the US. period, Until that point reaches every single blurry eyed zombie watching pro-football being sold things they couldn’t want or need unless the wants were manufactured we are doomed to continue taking the line of “us good guys” without any thought to the fact that these sentiments to not exist in reality. Just as the commenter says, these are stories we must tell ourselves. But we must wake ourselves from the fairy-tales if we are to exist in the modern world, or we will continue down the path of wiping our species off of the planet.

  • James Carlson

    Only a fool justifies the murder of complete innocents by justifying it with “they had it coming due to their citizenship.” Or someone with a criminal mind. Good guys and bad guys is not the issue. The issue is murder and whether you should justify it or not. The refusal to differentiate between good and evil simply because you live in a complex world is moral cowardice and the surrender of a lazy mind too forgiving of his moral lapses and less celebrated temptations. It is easy to exist in the modern world, but it is also meaningless without the significance of exceptional character. When you dismiss the murder of thousands due to their residence, and curse the success of the justice achieved by the successful pursuit and execution of those who enabled that crime, you merely advertise the weakness of your own character and the will to have little meaning in your life. Murder requires more than justification and dismissal, which is generally the child’s response, as children do not understand concepts of justice. Like you, they can only examine an issue from a self-driven point of view. You don’t seek justice — only weak vengeance.

  • James Carlson

    IRT: “It was an extrajudicial assassination, by definition.”

    You’re wrong. You obviously don’t understand the issues and your assumption of “definition” is improperly applied. You might try studying up a bit on international law and relations, since you’re discoursing above you pay grade. Poorly.

    Calling a zebra a fish doesn’t make it true.

    • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

      I suggest you look up “extrajudicial” in the dictionary. Indeed, you can call your pet dog “Duck”, but you can’t make him quack. Extrajudicial assassination is murder, by definition.

      • James Carlson

        “Extrajudicial” does not apply, and displaying your ignorance proudly does not change it from ignorance to knowledge. You’re welcome to have the last word, if you like, but it doesn’t change your status very much. You’re trying to apply a legal term with a specific focus as if it were a general descriptive term with a similar application, and it simply isn’t. In any case, I’ve tried to explain the matter to you using simple and specific terms, but you either lack the ability or the will to learn anything from your mistakes. I’m sorry to see it, but it’s not my responsibility to correct you incessantly without purpose, and your refusal to acknowledge or to even discuss plain facts makes the exercise a pointless and wasted effort. Feel free to close the matter as you will; you’re just not worth the investment in time.

        • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

          It was “extrajudicial” by definition. Look it up.