Thank you, Osama bin Laden, for sparing us the burden of keeping you prisoner and putting you on trial

According to the NYT:

When American operatives converged on the house on Sunday, Bin Laden “resisted the assault force” and was killed in the middle of an intense gun battle, a senior administration official said, but details were still sketchy early Monday morning.

According to ABC:

U.S. officials said that Bin Laden himself fired his weapon during the fight, and that he was asked to surrender but did not.

The Navy SEALs called on bin Laden to surrender. Which means that they were under orders to give him a chance to surrender. Which means that if the U.S. government had had its way, bin Laden would have been taken prisoner, confined, probably in Guantanamo, and tried, preferably in federal court.

Yes, we would have been able to get all kinds of valuable information from him, as we did from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But we also would have had him on our hands for many years, probably for the next twenty or thirty years. By refusing to surrender, he spared us that.

- end of initial entry -

Roland D. writes:

And of course, the idiots buried him at sea.

Nobody will believe it.

LA replies:

Presumably they took photographs of the body.

George B. writes:

You do realize the significance of Osama Bin Laden’s death? Obama has just won the 2012 election; he won the lottery.

LA replies:

I’d say you’re thinking too much about politics.

Allan Wall writes:

Osama bin Laden’s death provides us with a great opportunity. Let’s declare “Mission Accomplished”, withdraw from Afghanistan and put those troops on the Mexican border.

Nik S. writes:

This guarantees Obama’s re-election. Bushy had eight years and couldn’t do it.

LA replies:

I don’t understand people who, the moment an event like this happens, immediately see it in terms of U.S. presidential politics and make predictions concerning an election that will not take place for a year and a half. Of all things to think about following the death of bin Laden, why is this the thing that comes to people’s minds? American Thinker even has an article making the same prediction.

Bin Laden has been way down on the American radar screen for many years. People have hardly thought about him. So why should his death now immediately be translated in people’s minds into “This means Obama will be re-elected”?

Daniel S. writes:

While all the the politicians will crow about this great victory, the jihad of which bin Laden was only the public face for will go on unabated (in fact, the jihad might benefit from the absence of bin Laden).

Kilroy M. writes:

“By refusing to surrender, he spared us that.”

He also spared us information about who his associates were within top level government and intelligence services among U.S. allies and other players in the Islamic and Eurasian world. Do you seriously believe his death is preferable to incarceration and the rigmarole of legal or quasi-legal process? I do not.

He died in battle. I can imagine that his spiritual symbolism has now skyrocketed among his supporters. He is now greater than just a man with a billion dollars and a small army of suicide bombers. It would have been far better for him to have been dragged before a U.S. secular court, publicly tried, not executed but jailed for life. I am not a Muslim, but I am religious Catholic and can conceive of the idea of dying for one’s faith, which is why I believe that that outcome would have been far more demeaning to his “cause” and its followers—it would have denied him martyrdom and been a continuing reminder of his insignificance right up until his natural death in a small cell. By killing him, we’ve sainted him (in a manner of speaking), and you prefer this.

LA replies:

Excuse me, but I didn’t say that I prefer that he be sainted. I said I preferred that he be dead and not on our hands for the next 20 years.

Also, I don’t see how he is more sainted now than he was before. He has just become a very weak horse—the weakest that a horse can possibly be.

LA writes:

Think how disappointed Eric Holder must be right now. If he thought that the trial of KSM in federal court in Manhattan would be a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to the world that the American justice system works (as though this were something that we need to demonstrate to others to establish our own moral legitimacy, which in the absence of such a demonstration, would not be established), imagine how he would have felt about the prospect of trying bin Laden in federal court. It’s a sad, sad day for Holder.

And, to continue on my main point, we’ve been spared not only the efforts of Holder to try bin Laden in federal court, in which, according to the dictates of liberalism, an enemy of this country is treated as a mere criminal, enjoying all the procedural rights and protections afforded a criminal, but we’ve been spared the similar efforts of Holder’s successors in the years to come.

Paul T. writes:

I agree that the successful hit on Bin Laden doesn’t necessarily translate into a guarantee of victory for Obama in 2012. Britain’s victory in 1945 didn’t stop Winston Churchill from being swept out of office in a landslide. And only the most starry-eyed Obama-worshippers will say “the President did it” instead of “the Navy SEALs did it.”

By the way, the President took the opportunity to reaffirm that the U.S. is not at war with Islam. Why was this necessary to say when we have been told for a decade that Bin Ladenism “has nothing to do with” Islam? Sounds like protesting too much; I mean, the President didn’t add, “and we’re not at war with Rotarianism, either.”

James R. writes:

You wrote: “I don’t understand people who, the moment an event like this happens, immediately see it in terms of U.S. presidential politics.”

I regret to say that part (only part) of my initial and ongoing reaction was similar to that of your correspondents: “they” (progressives) will now throw this in the face of the right for years and decades. My relief? (happiness or cheer is inappropriate. Satisfaction?) at Osama’s death is thus tempered and undercut by this realization.

The reason people see everything in light of domestic (American/Western) politics is for a reason you too are familiar with: we’re actually fighting two types of wars. One against external enemies, and a domestic “cold civil war” against those born in our own civilization but which does not like the society it leads* and are fighting to transform it into something else.

While the external war is important, arguably the cold civil war is more decisive. We could easily handle all our external enemies—so obviously so that they would be cowed into ceasing the fight (thus saving many lives, theirs as well as ours), if it wasn’t for the internal cold civil war, which as you know impedes all our efforts and indeed prevents both victory and peace (though those on the other side claim to stand for peace above all else).

So we have to keep both conflicts in mind at all times, unfortunately. This twists our humanity—I feel mine is twisted—and is one of the tragedies of the cold civil war. I deeply wish we cannot simply be satisfied with the achievement, but *must* consider the effects of everything on both conflicts. This all said, we need not join the invidious left which regretted every tactical success of the Bush Administration because of how they felt it affected their domestic prospects. To go down that road would be to fully embrace evil. That hey have said “evil, be thou our good” is no reason for us to embrace that attitude.

I’m glad that we succeeded in ridding the world of Bin Laden. But I can’t crimestop myself from pondering how the left will use this as a cudgel to whip their domestic political opponents, who they sincerely feel to be their (only) real enemies.

*Progressives control the majority of the levers of power, especially the important informal ones, even when “conservatives” are in office. With the partial exception of the economic sphere, but only partial—in a manner that inadvertently serves to disguise and conceal the otherwhise overwhelming dominance of progressivism.

James R. contiinues:

In a more sane world, where the internal cold civil war didn’t exist, rather than feeling relief that he was killed instead of captured, and us spared the circus that progressive constraints have placed upon us to the point where we know that would be more of a burden than a benefit, we could instead have hoped for his capture and squeezed him for information.

So, alas, this need to keep our mind on both conflicts at all times affects our reaction to everything.

LA replies:

There are dozens of factors that affect the re-election prospects of Obama. I think it betrays on unbalanced and frankly unhealthy view of things to jump immediately on this event that say that this event by itself means that Obama will be re-elected. It’s simply not relevant to this subject. Can’t we discuss the immediate subject, without idle and fruitless speculation as to its possible effect on an election lying a year and a half in the future? Must predictions of future elections be the all-consuming thought of mankind?

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Everybody wringing his hands over OBL’s intelligence value needs to get a grip. People need to remember that we didn’t have to interview Bin Laden to find out where he was, which was pretty much the most closely-guarded secret Al-Qaeda had. There’s plenty of information out there we can glean from other sources without subjecting ourselves to the parade of outrages we’d be sure to endure by placing him under military arrest. I’m satisfied with the intel we’re going to get from the people we did manage to take into custody, and also the reams of data we’re going to get from the compound itself. Besides, justice has a value all its own that can’t be measured in intelligence (something the DOJ has forsaken utterly in its approach to plea bargaining espionage cases), and all those years of incarceration would extract real costs from us as well—costs that are more sure and certain that the reliability of anything Bin Laden might say.

And for those who will bring up Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the information we managed to extract from him, they’re forgetting one very important detail: KSM only cracked under waterboarding, which the CIA does not do anymore, ever. I’m happy to have been spared a fifteen-year orgy of recriminations over how we were treating bin Laden, what his cell conditions were like, whether he deserved halal meals, how many copies of the Koran he was entitled to, what was the nature of the evidence presented against him, etc., etc., etc.

I’m with you on this one, Larry. It’s a huge relief not to have to deal with “the trial of the millennium.”

LA replies:

Hell, the “biggest trial in human history.”

N. writes:

This burial at sea was the right thing to do for several reasons.

1. Those who care can claim that all Moslem obligations were fulfilled, there will not be any argument over any details—because there cannot be.

2. There is no grave to build a shrine upon, as a rallying point for future jihadis.

3. There is no grave for pilgrims to go to, to photograph, to stand next to, etc. and thus any cult of bin Laden will be harder to perpetuate.

Burial at sea was the best option, once bin Laden was dead.

Comments posted 5:48 p.m.

Mercedes D. writes:

My first thoughts when I heard about OBL’s death this morning were gratitude to the Navy SEALs who took him out and what a great day this is for America. Our most reviled enemy is finally dead.

Like you, I am glad that he was killed rather than taken prisoner, and I disagree with those who say that this military victory assures Obama’s reelection. Obama loathes our military and loves our enemy, which is Islam itself. The fact that OBL is dead is not going to create jobs or reverse the economic destruction that Obama has wrought over these past couple of years. The joy of this day will be a pleasant memory by November of 2012, but the pain and suffering that Obama is inflicting on ordinary Americans will still be there.

Buck O. writes:

I just turned on the radio in time to hear Rush Limbaugh unintentionally making his case for re-electing Obama and for keeping a Democrat as President—in the interest of national security. He argued that America’s security and America’s war fighting improve when a Democrat is President—because a Democrat never wants to be seen as a loser. However, he argues, that when a Republican is President, the Democrats will do whatever they can to interfere with and impede his efforts—never wanting a successful Republican President.

Rush also says that President Obama enhanced and furthered the military and security initiatives begun by President Bush—achieving outcomes that Bush could not, since Bush had to deal with interference by the Democrats—as in the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Obviously, Rush didn’t mean it that way. But, that’s what he said.

Nik S. writes:

I rescind my prior comment about Osama’s death guaranteeing four more years of the Obama’s victory. Things could get a lot messier in the next 18 months. And it’s not as if Obama really had anything to do with it anyway. It was a military operation. He signed a piece of paper.

Don’t bother removing the comment. I’m just saying I—along with some others—may have gotten a bit over-ecstatic when I read the news. Obama is still a loser, even if he wins the next election.

Paul T. writes:

There’s another reason not to be concerned about liberals cashing an “Osama dividend.” It’s true that they can say that Obama accomplished what Bush could not, but that only takes you so far. In the end, the two themes that this operation speaks to are (a) pride in the military and (b) frustrating the jihad. Neither of these bear much relation to the things liberals really care about. It’s not easy to find a way of connecting these themes to anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, public ownership of resources, etc. In fact, the more that liberals dwell on this operation, the more they risk arousing sentiments that it is not in liberalism’s interest to arouse. So they’ll probably treat it as a point on the President’s C.V. and then move on with relief to other things.

LA replies:

That’s a reasonable analysis.

James P. writes:

CNN interviewed Dan Choi, a gay soldier kicked out under DADT (starts around 7:20). Choi somehow considers the death of Osama a great victory for “Muslim-Americans” as well as (inevitably) “gay Americans,” and then starts yammering about his “personal journey” and “triumphing over victimization.” Sheesh, couldn’t they find a normal straight white soldier to interview?

I am also thoroughly nauseated by the proclamation that Osama was buried “in accordance with Muslim custom.” We can’t even kill Public Enemy Number One without a gratuitous display of dhimmitude!

LA replies:

In today’s leftist, victimological society, all that people care about is their special agendas. So, no matter what a big event may be about, no matter how little it has to do with a person’s agenda, he will use it to advance his agenda. The only concepts people have are those pertaining to their particular victimhood.

James P. continues:

Killing Osama does not guarantee Obama’s reelection any more than winning the first Gulf War in February 1991 ensured George H.W. Bush’s reelection in 1992.

Mark Jaws writes:

While I was but a simple airborne soldier and not a Ranger or Green Beret, I was privileged to be neighbor and friend to many Green Berets and Rangers when I lived in officer housing at Fort Bragg from 1985 to 1989. With one lone exception, they were all white and everyone one of them whom I knew was a Reagan conservative. This operation had nothing to do with Obama and absolutely nothing to do with the Left. This was simply hard, traditional America demonstrating its muscle and showing that the greatest life force on this planet is still trained, armed, and determined white men.

James R. writes:

My point was slightly different from those who say this guarantees Obama’s re-election. After all, Bush the Elder was assumed to be unbeatable after the Gulf War, and how’d that work out?

But I do understand why people’s thoughts inevitably turn to domestic political considerations; my own do, too, even though I don’t like that.

Leonard D. writes:

Regarding U.S. politics and the bin Laden killing, you ask “why is this the thing that comes to people’s minds?” Remember that politics is one of the ways in which people, lacking traditional religion, try to find meaning in life. People will always try to connect mundane events with the transcendent, as a way to find the meaning. [LA replies: you are spelling out more or less what I was thinking when I wrote that comment. Modernity replaces the search for truth with predictions of secular events, particularly elections; and replaces man the seeker of truth with man the intellectual/gnostic knower of the historical process. Like much else in modern culture, it is a substitute transcendence, and a particularly trivial and meaningless one at that.] So, just as you might wonder how far a Christian should allow himself to celebrate the death of an enemy, a democrat will wonder if this can get Obama reelected. (Alas, we are all democrats now.)

For what it’s worth, my immediate reaction to the news was to think: Good for them. Where was he? How’d they get him? Won’t make any difference in the War on Terror. And at about this point I made the connection to Bush the elder in 1991: I think this is too early (and too diffusely sourced) to affect the election 2012. (So yes: I went pretty fast for the political effect too. As I said: alas.)

Your reaction to the incidence of democracy-centeredness by your commenters brings to mind this Moldbug quote, about the “nanoslice” of power each citizen has in democracy:

If you’ve ever lived in a foreign country, you know exactly what life is like without the nanoslice: pretty much what life is like with it. Except for the Zen of abandoning the constant, unrequited longing for control that is the cruel karma of the democratic citizen, and the breath of honest fresh air in exchanging a first-person government for a third-person one, not “we” but “they.”

You don’t have that cruel karma of the democratic citizen.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 02, 2011 09:46 AM | Send

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