Hmmm. Reckon it's past time I gave my spin on the recent demise of Osama bin Laden, now that we're well into the news cycle on it, and it's been well covered pretty much everywhere else.
First, as has been stated in so many other places, Well Done to the SEAL team involved. They almost certainly pulled off the kill of the decade. There'll be a few guys with 'black' medals in their service jackets, and probably one guy who has a hell of a story that he'll most likely never be able to tell. Big thumbs up to the Navy on this one.
Big thumbs down to the post-kill handling by the Obama administration. The last few days have been a flurry of contradictory comments and actions. First, they're going to release the death photo, now they aren't. First, bin Ladin was armed, then he wasn't, the house was full of weapons, then it wasn't. On and on.
I'll be honest-I don't care if they caught him in bed watching The Dukes of Hazzard and eating Pringles potato chips. This guy has been responsible, either directly or indirectly, for the deaths of thousands of people over the past few years. It might make a better story if he died with guns blazing, but in truth that really isn't how most of that type ends up dead. Most of the time criminal types get caught coming out of a restaurant, or a theater, or simply offed in their sleep. Why give someone a chance to fight when you can catch them unawares?
There has been talk that, in reality, President Obama ordered an assassination against a head of state, which is against US law. I wasn't aware that OBL was the leader of a foreign state. He was a criminal-no better than a mob boss, really. And I'd call it a 'hit'. It is what it is. And will President Obama try to use this to his political advantage? Certainly. Who wouldn't? I won't fault him for that. I do fault him for the handling, though. Maybe the information cycle and gathering is such these days that it's nearly impossible to keep things under wraps. I'd bet most politicians think 'Oh, for the good old days before umpty-hundred news channels of all slants, when it was just a handful of newspaper guys in the Press Room'. Also, there's been talk that the hit comes at a convenient time for President Obama. It's a good way to divert the nation's attention from the continued sluggish economy and all of the other domestic issues plaguing the current administration. Anything's possible-but there are times when events happen when they will. It looks convenient only in hindsight.
Then there's the whole matter of OBL's burial at sea. The conspiracy whackjobs I guess wanted his body put on tour in all the major cities of the country so that they could actually see that it was him. I'm satisfied that he is, in fact, fish food somewhere in the Indian Ocean. None of the Muslim nations wanted his body, figuring, rightly I suppose, that his gravesite would become a shrine for the wannabes. Cremating him is supposed to be against the rules in Islam, more so than burial at sea. If someone said an Islamic prayer for him before he got dumped over the side, OK by me. It's up to God to judge the man now. And I'm sure he's dead, because he'd certainly have made a video or recording by now saying that he was still alive and the infidels missed him by that much (holding a thumb and finger a millimeter apart)!
And then there's the matter of the celebrations here after OBL's death. I suppose these things crop up anytime a major event like this happens, but I didin't feel his death warrants a replay of all the events post 9/11. I'm glad he's gone. If I knew anyone involved in the mission, I'd certainly buy them a steak dinner and a beer. They did good. But I also feel that 'celebrating' his death gives him a stature that he really isn't worthy of. Hitler, now-there was a guy whose defeat deserved the party that was thrown on V-E Day. Bin Laden? Not really in the same league. A simple thug who died in a fitting manner. I know I woke up on Monday morning and gas prices were still rising, the unemployment rate was still high, and all the other problems in the world were still here. His death didn't change anything on that front.
There have been those who wanted to see him in the International Court of Justice and put on trial for his crimes. After all, they only have the word of the United States that he actually did anything-and that he never claimed responsibility for 9/11. I don't know about that and I don't care. He was responsible for planning, aiding, and financing several attacks on Western interests throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, including an attack on USS Cole in Yemen. That in itself warrants the action from last week.
We here in America know that a lot of people don't like us and what we stand for. Fine. In truth, it's mutual in a lot of cases. The popular notion here in the States is that International Court of Justice is stocked with people who would enjoy nothing more than taking us down a peg or two, and would be quite pleased with putting on a verrrrry protracted trial, followed by a few months in some Belgian jail as punishment. We all remember the trial of Slobodan Milosevic. Five years long and the old bastard died in prison without the court ever rendering a verdict. That's just what we need. OBL with a court-appointed lawyer and a decade-long trial. No doubt someone on the court would notice that President Bush or Obama didn't dot an I or cross a T somewhere and would have let OBL out on a technicality, though I suppose one could argue that spending the better part of a decade in a courtroom is a cruel and unusual punishment of its own. The more I think about it, maybe we did OBL a favor by giving him a quick bullet in the noggin.
And that, kids, is what we think of the ICJ.
In the end, I don't suppose OBL was all that relevant to any major terrorist group any more. That doesn't make him any less culpable for past acts he took part in. Now he's dead-and he died in a much cleaner way than most of the victims of his crimes did. He got more dignity in the end than he likely deserved.
One can hope that the recent revolutions in the Middle East might be followed up with a general liberalization in the culture and religion. The era of the strongman might be starting to end there, and with luck and some adroit help (which probably leaves us out, what with our occasional ham-handedness), maybe the likes of Qaddafi and bin Laden will fade into irrelevance, which would also be a fitting end as well.
I dunno. My head hurts trying to deal with the conspiracy types and knuckleheads that are out there (of all flavors). All I know is, a madman's dead and won't be creating any more misery, either in other countries or in his own land. I'm good with that.