Monday, 2 May 2011

We're not Judge Judy and executioner.

Well, looks like we finally got him. Osama bin Laden has been killed by American special forces in Pakistan, identified and buried at sea all in the blink of an eye, after 10 years as America's bogeyman-in-chief. And the world wants to celebrate! Americans feel as proud to be American as we did to be British just last Friday, while our very British newspapers fall over themselves to publish photographic evidence of bin Laden's death, so that we can all have a good look and tell ourselves how evil he was and how much he deserved what he got. Maybe the Sun will get to reuse it's most infamous headline tomorrow morning. The other two men killed in the raid are a mere footnote, as is the woman who was reportedly, "being used as a shield". Presumably someone decided a few more deaths was a price worth paying.

Because it has to be a price worth paying, right? We know that he killed all those people on September the 11th, we've been told so for 10 years. Never mind that he denied responsibility for it for 3 years (only claiming credit for the attack in an October 2004 attempt to discredit George W. Bush's re-election campaign), or that the British government's "September 11 attacks - Culpability document" concluded only that bin Laden headed the organisation responsible, or that al-Qaeda is not an organisation with a top-down command structure. Given that the perpetrators died in the attack, we needed someone else to be angry at, and the media repeatedly directed us to him. Who needs a trial? As Bush put it, "There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he's guilty".

This is all pretty troubling, but what on earth does this action say about our foreign policy? Obama at least is being consistent, having promised in his election campaign to pursue bin Laden into Pakistan with or without the permission of their government (and having spent so much time criticising operations in Iraq as having "taken our eye off the ball" that he's probably going to do extremely well out of this), and as yet it is unclear whether Pakistan even knew that the raid was coming - at the time of writing, the "Death of Osama bin Laden" Wikipedia page states, "the government of Pakistan was not notified of the planned raid", though this has yet to be cited (or even tagged, "citation needed"). To have assassinated a man without trial in the territory of an ally but without their permission?

What if America had tried this in North Korea? Or if it had happened in Pakistan, but executed by Indian troops? There are two first strike scenarios for Joshua to run right there. Should we now expect a series of surgical operations against other people America has reason to hate? Can minor states expect to get away with policing the world in this way? And what merits this kind of special attention, is it the number of people killed or just the number of Americans?

At what point did the world's most powerful nation decide that it was acceptable to mete out punishments of which it deemed people were deserving, without recourse to anything resembling a judicial process, the approval of the international community, or the knowledge of those on whose soil this was being carried out? It's not as if killing him does anything for his victims, proven or alleged. And what about the three people who died with him?

What a load of baloney.

No comments:

Post a Comment