On Osama Bin Laden’s Death | Common Dreams

by Rich Rubenstein on May 2, 2011 · 4 comments

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On Osama Bin Laden’s Death | Common Dreams.

I think Chris Hedges has this exactly right.  Legally, Osama Bin Laden deserved to die.  Politically, we have just created another Muslim martyr, and this at a time when al-Qaida’s mass appeal was declining.  Morally, assassinations like this one are acts of pure revenge, not “justice.”  (Note that Bin Laden was shot after he was discovered alone, with no weapons, on the third floor of the mansion.  “Dead or alive” almost always means “dead.”)  Such summary executions accelerate the cycle of violence and make the achievement of genuine justice less likely.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucas Cioffi May 2, 2011 at 10:04 pm

You write, “Morally, a death squad is a death squad, whatever flag it flies.” How do you describe a “death squad”?


Rich Rubenstein May 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I take your point, Lucas. “Death squad” was not a well chosen phrase, since it ordinarily refers to an organization formed to kill the civilian members of a political group, e.g., trade unionists or communists. I will edit my comment to eliminate the epithet and make the point that continuing the cycle of revenge is not “justice.” Thanks for your comment.


Lucas Cioffi May 16, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Hi Rich, I do appreciate that.

And I also concur with you that that killing is not justice. Whether or not killing is justifiable as self-defense is a separate matter, but killing is certainly not justice.


Rich Rubenstein May 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Yes, this policy of targeted assassinations is very troublesome, even if one tries to justify it on grounds of self-defense. On the one hand, you have types like bin Laden, who may have been continuing to plot against us. On the other hand, you have a president who believes he has the right to kill anyone he wants to — including American citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki, who is currently being hunted in Yemen — without approval by anyone else, so long as HE thinks that the target intends us harm. Obviously, this tosses law out the window, since the president has no power to make war without a declaration of war or Congressional approval under the War Powers Act. (Where are the conservative Constitution-worshipers on this?) Most people apparently couldn’t care less about this, however, since they think Obama is acting to protect them from imminent harm. I’m going to blog separately about this “presidential vigilantism” shortly — but thanks very much for your comments.


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