May 2, 2011

Various Thoughts on bin Laden

Justin Katz

1. I've heard from several people the suggestion that the death of Osama bin Laden will boost troop morale. That may be the case, but I can't help but see that as a bit of a shame. Over the past decade, our military has toppled governments, routed terrorist networks out of foreign cities, helped oppressed people rebuild, push a hostile region toward democracy, and (most importantly) kept the fight on distant shores, preventing further large-scale attacks on the United States.

Whether or not one agrees with the policies that spurred those actions, their achievement is nothing short of awe inspiring. Marc likened bin Laden to the Wicked Witch, but that's inaccurate in a very important way: the Wicked Witch instilled fear because she individually had frightening powers; kill and scatter her army and she would still be a formidable enemy. Osama bin Laden was a lanky, sick, and aging rich kid with a network and a lot of hate. It's good that he's dead, but in terms of satisfaction for our nation and its men and women in uniform, he's a bit of an after-dinner mint.

2. And this is where he shivered in fear as his doom approached.

3. It seems an excessive, even reckless, bit of political correctness to invite continuing conspiracy theories and legend making by dumping the body out of reach in the sea.

4. Meanwhile, the World Trade Center has still not been rebuilt.

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RE: Wicked Witch. Thinking too hard, my man. It was an off-the-cuff reference. Guess I should have said "Boogey Man" and avoided the Lit Crit. ;)

Posted by: Marc at May 2, 2011 1:22 PM

"death of Osama bin Laden will boost troop morale"

It probably won't hurt, but it is too distant in time from 9/11. Many of our troops were 10, or 11, when it happpened.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at May 2, 2011 1:27 PM

"Over the past decade, our military has toppled governments, routed terrorist networks out of foreign cities, helped oppressed people rebuild, push a hostile region toward democracy, and (most importantly) kept the fight on distant shores, preventing further large-scale attacks on the United States."

I'm sorry, but out of the dozen or so people I know who were deployed... None of them feel that way. Most thought it was a total waste of time, money, and human lives.

Posted by: mangeek at May 2, 2011 2:36 PM

To the degree that's the case, it is a result, to our shame, of the message that those back home conveyed.

Regardless, the folks taking on the tasks needn't be impressed by them for them to be awe inspiring.

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 2, 2011 4:55 PM

"sick, and aging rich kid with a network and a lot of hate"

Sounds like Matt Jerzyk!

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at May 2, 2011 6:57 PM

I am just now watching video of the American "celebrations" over the execution of Osama. I do not like this, they seem like scenes I would expect in Libya, or Iraq.

I am wondering if the crime and justice were too distantly separated? Most of the celebrants appear too young to remember 9/11.

We continue to repeat that we have respected the traditions of his culture in burial. I would like to see more respect for our own. We have executed a man to bring justice, this is usually a solemn moment of reflection. I am wondering how much cheering went on at the Nazi executions, or, did the media simply choose not to show it.

The world has been reminded that if you screw with us, we are coming right at you. And obviously we will be tireless.

Some how, I do not feel that the singing, chanting and dancing is part of my culture. I think too much time has past. Like Whitey Bulger. Bin Laden became a figure in a pursuit game. a sport if you will.

What we are celebrating is an end to being made to appear impotent.

All the talk of the "danger" in bringing Bin Laden to trial simply underscores our implicit fear to attempt it. When this is considered, it may be thought expedient, but not courageous. I suppose this is another area where the inability to declare it is a war, and instead label it a crime, makes difficulty.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at May 2, 2011 7:05 PM

I was also taken aback at the sight of the celebrating by the mostly young folks. My initial reaction was don't most of these people have better things to be doing on a late Sunday night? Upon further reflection, I'm embarrassed as a citizen of the USA by the behavior of the few that has been broadcast worldwide over and over again and resulting in this yahoo giddiness becoming the face of our nation. In a twisted way, it has highlighted the damage and effect that one individual can inflict upon us as a nation. I'm sure that the almost surreal behavior exhibited by these kids will galvanize many in the Muslim world, and my bet is the contempt toward us will only grow. If I'm disgusted by the sight of these demonstrations, I can't help but feel many in the Mideast share my sentiments.

Make no mistake about it though. I am glad he's gone. But jumping for joy? Are you kidding me?

And the Twin Towers will never be rebuilt. I am one that would have favored the original blueprints taken from the archives and used to rebuild those towers to the exact specifications right on down to the inch. The only modification I'd have liked to see would be a stronger and fortified version of the originals. That would have sent the clear message of whose in charge.

Posted by: swamper at May 2, 2011 9:06 PM

I wonder if those "young folks" were mobilized by texts, tweets and facebook posts from Obama's campaign network.

Posted by: BobN at May 2, 2011 10:20 PM

Swamper writes:
"I was also taken aback at the sight of the celebrating by the mostly young folks. "

Despite my comments above, I am reminded that we are never more than one generation away from barbarism. If I am to believe older paintings and photographs, it was not so long ago that public hangings had a carnival atmosphere. Perhaps there is some elemental need that our society now denies.

Still don't like it.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at May 2, 2011 11:04 PM


I wasn't criticizing you. The point was one I intended to make, anyway, and you'd succeeded in articulating the thoughts of many very well.

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 3, 2011 6:36 AM

"Despite my comments above, I am reminded that we are never more than one generation away from barbarism."
"Perhaps there is some elemental need that our society now denies."

I agree with barbarism being closer than we think. Two thoughts immediately came to the forefront of my mind upon reading your post.

The first was Shirley Jackson's “The Lottery”. That short story summed up the elemental need you describe pretty nicely.

The second is a quote from Ronald Reagan:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Please don't ask me why these seemingly two unrelated bits of thought occured to me. They just did.

Posted by: swamper at May 3, 2011 8:06 AM

I also thought the scenes of NYC and outside the White House looked a lot like what we saw in Middle Eastern countries where the people were celebrating over our misfortunes. Also, when you look at the faces in the crowds, many of them looked like college kids. Just another excuse to have a party.

Also unfortunately, my next thought was the irony of an angry muslim extremist choosing to detonate a bomb in the middle of one of those crowds.

Posted by: Patrick at May 3, 2011 9:06 AM

Bin Laden and his band of douchebags thought they could stay in their little flea infested hole in the wall protected by another band of douchebags in a piss poor country that allows criminals and murderers to thrive and train, and laugh their smug little beards off while launching cowardly attacks on productive, peace loving, human rights and environment protecting Americans.

They thought they would survive the unmanned missile attacks that would surely follow, and dug themselves deeper into a hole and figured they would wait it out. They are famous for waiting, and striking when they feel our guard is down, and they can get away with it. They probably expected to capture a few American soldiers, special forces commandos sent to ferret out the rats, and cut off their heads and watch the rest of our soldiers cower behind the safety of an ocean.

They didn’t expect our forces to respond with courage, and skill, and face death and humiliation with a snarl and a stronger commitment to see this despicable chapter in human history brought to an end. They didn’t expect the American People to stay together, and keep working, and support our troops, and stay productive, and peace-loving protectors of human rights and the environment.

They didn’t think we would wait. They thought wrong. They didn’t think we would win. They thought wrong. They thought forty virgins waited for them on the other side. They thought wrong. Now, they can go f**k themselves.

Never Forget.

Posted by: michael at May 3, 2011 10:06 AM

Well said, Michael.

Maybe I'm cynical, but I compare that with your other posts defending the shirkers and fraudsters who take "disability" pensions and then pursue other strenuous jobs and hobbies and I wonder if there are two Americas. One is filled with Americans, the other with "Progressives" and their willing accomplices and dependents.

Posted by: BobN at May 3, 2011 10:14 AM

I've never defended a shirker or fraudster. Better yet, I've never accused somebody I know or do not know of being a fraudster or shirker until indisputable evidence is presented. That is my America.

Posted by: michael at May 3, 2011 4:08 PM

"Carney read a statement to reporters Tuesday seeking to clarify discrepancies. He said bin Laden “was not armed.” When a U.S. “assaulter” approached bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader’s “wife” rushed the assaulter. That woman was shot but not killed, Carney said."

Does this suggest that OBL could have been captured? Would that have proved advantageous? (would we drag him through the streets of NY, a la Mogadishu?). I am sure he had information we could have used. Would "truth serums" have been permitted? So long as we regard 9/11 as a "crime", our system would have required a trial.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at May 3, 2011 6:35 PM

It wouldn't have been a fair trial. Obambi and Holder would never prosecute their hero.

Posted by: BobN at May 3, 2011 7:01 PM

God bless our U.S. military service men and women, the finest in the world.

Reporting that he was unarmed, after examining a dead body clothed in robes and blankets, means nothing. I don't want mine or any other American son or daughter killed trying to take any terrorist "alive". In a world where OBL and terrorists have redefined "war", let our military fight the fight to get it done.

As for Pakistan, cut off the money now.

Posted by: riborn at May 3, 2011 8:03 PM

This question of "armed/unarmed?"is plain bullsh*t.
If Obama had opted for a B2 strike with 2000 lb bombs,would we even be discussing this?
It was a kill mission,not a police operation.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 3, 2011 8:20 PM

It's interesting to notice that there are certain regular commenters who've been very silent on this issue.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 4, 2011 4:19 AM

[[ This question of "armed/unarmed?"is plain bullsh*t. ]]

I couldn't agree more!!

I don't care if he was armed. I don't care if he did or didn't hide behind a woman. I don't care if he was buried at sea.

He was a mass murderer and terrorist. None of his victims were given any "rights" before they were murdered!

Posted by: Tom Kenney at May 4, 2011 4:07 PM

Posted by joe bernstein at May 3, 2011 8:20 PM
"It was a kill mission,not a police operation."

Joe's statement is succinct and probably accurate. I have always found our vacillation between "criminal action" and "act of war" (re 9/11) disturbing. It is one or the other. We seem unable to acknowledge a religious war. Considering our principles of "religious freedom", and the realities of world politics, I can understand the difficulty. Still, 9/11 was, what it was. I understand that there were no Episcopalians involved in 9/11. I also understand that the "Great Satan" is you and I, by dint of our Judeo/Christianity. I am not sure where the Asians killed fall in this. To quote from another, undeclared, religious war, the Catholic Inquisition "Kill them all, let God sort them out".

We have labeled it "crime", we are therefore constrained by "criminal justice". Summary execution seems an ill fit. Personally, I would have labeled it an "act of war".

Given my preference. I would have had OBL tasered and then extracted every name he knew for our Doomsday Book. Then put him on trial to make it all public. Am I an "conspiracy theorist" if I suspect some of those names might embarrass many? Could the anti-terrorist "myth" survive it? How about the U.S./UN/Pakistani alliance? I think a great many politicians have been granted immunity, by summary execution. It might have a positive influence on their thinking if they understood that we are coming for them too, as accessories to a capital crime. Perhaps, I am a utopian.

While beating our chests, it might be well to remember that our bark is worse than our bite. The Nuremberg Trials were a masquerade of justice. Many Nazi War Criminals were given a pass because they were helpful to us, such as Werner Von Braun ("We aim for the stars" but sometimes hit London). We gave a pass to many of the worst Japanese War Criminals for political expediency. We don't even play by our own rules (or, "We play to win"). As Gen. LeMay said of our firebombing of civilians, "If we had lost, I would have been tried as a war criminal".

Posted by: Warrington Faust at May 4, 2011 9:33 PM
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