Absolutely Thrilling

“Absolutely thrilling” is what Condoleeza Rice thinks what Barack Obama’s achievement of having had Osama bin Laden murdered is. Now, don’t get me wrong: Osama bin Laden was a criminal. He deserved to be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity. He deserved to rot in prison for the rest of his life for the thousands killed by his soldiers.

But Osama wasn’t arrested. Instead he was assassinated by the CIA and JSOC, operating in a country where they have no authority. You may think “hey, he was a bad guy, we should do anything to kill him!” But is that so? Either we believe in democratic values or we don’t. It doesn’t matter who the subject is; the rule of law must apply. That’s why the Nazis – surely a much bigger threat – were arrested and tried at Nuremberg, where the nature of their crimes was analysed and made clear.

If they really knew that Osama bin Laden was hiding in this mansion, why not go in with the support of the Pakistani army, surround the place, and tell him to come out? Surely they could track him if he tried to escape? Can all the great might of the American military apparatus not manage to take a bunch of people alive? Can it not even try?

But even that line of thought is based on entirely false assumptions. Osama bin Laden was a criminal, but who trained that criminal? Osama bin Laden was a criminal, but how powerful was he really? Will his death change anything about terrorist activities worldwide, except giving them another martyr? Furthermore, was Osama bin Laden a bigger criminal than George Bush or Barack Obama? Osama bin Laden murdered several thousand people – a terrible crime. Bush and Obama have murdered over a million, wreaked havoc in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Lybia, and probably several other countries. They’ve instituted and kept up secret prisons in which innocent people, even children, are regularly tortured to death. They’ve used death squads to murder people the world over, even citizens of their own country. And now we’re supposed to be happy that these supreme criminals have murdered another criminal, continuing their use of illegal, anti-democratic methods?

Slobodan Milošević, Saddam Hussein, and now Osama bin Laden. All of them nasty, criminal individuals – but no less nasty than the people who murdered them. Yet every time someone is killed – be it a leader or just the leader’s youngest son – the media celebrate the murder. Just look at them, frothing at the mouth like insane cannibals. Condoleeza Rice is about to have an orgasm. Death! Death! Death! It’s sick and it’s sickening.

We have not “woken up in a more secure world.” We’ve woken up the same shitty world where what should be a great democracy prefers to assassinate its enemies rather than put them on trial, where war criminals fight other war criminals while the people starve, and where the same old wars will continue.

Thousands more will die. Why are their deaths so much less significant?

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32 Comments

  1. A most excellent piece dear Jonas. Seems like imperialism doesn’t need any sort of democratic mask these days. Oh well…

  2. John Z

     /  May 2, 2011

    LOL. Delusional lefties. Inject a dose of reality, care bears. Reality doesn’t always play out like the ideal of your perfectly-formed fantasies. We don’t live in a perfect world without crime and where everyone holds hands. And guess what? We never will. Humanity thrives on conflict, and like it or hate it, it has always been around will always be around. Do you really hope to influence opinion to the point of changing the entire world to a leftist viewpoint? LOL, good luck with that, friends. You will have higher chances of becoming billionaires a trillion times over before it happens. 😉

    Anyway, this article seems to try a bit too hard. Seems like it’s trying to provoke “intelligent thought”, but it’s really just complete & utter stupidity. Dear sirs, continue your little fantasy to take down all the governments and systems of the world with your king, that serial pest, Assange. But then what will you do? Boys, please stop wasting your lives away on this leftist fantasy that you can never accomplish. Make normal games and grow up. Your political leanings just get on the nerves of half your fan base and irritate them. They don’t win everyone to ‘your side’ as you seem to think.

  3. Reality doesn’t always play out like the ideal of your perfectly-formed fantasies. We don’t live in a perfect world without crime and where everyone holds hands. And guess what? We never will.

    Ah, the tired old bullshit about utopian thinking, trotted out without the slightest thought or consideration. But the fact that as simple a demand as “a nation should uphold the basic principles of democratic law” is seen as a belief in some kind of utopian society is pretty telling.

    Do you really hope to influence opinion to the point of changing the entire world to a leftist viewpoint?

    No, just enough people to make a difference.

    Anyway, this article seems to try a bit too hard. Seems like it’s trying to provoke “intelligent thought”, but it’s really just complete & utter stupidity.

    Thank you for pointing that out. None of my arguments can stand in the way of your irrational hatred.

    Make normal games and grow up.

    Who determines what is normal? As far as I’m concerned, making art that engages with the world is normal. Celebrating death and wallowing in sociopathic cynicism seems pretty abnormal. As for growing up… if it means that I should stop being critical and simply echo the bullshit I’m told by others while surrendering my right to individuality… well, fuck you.

    Your political leanings just get on the nerves of half your fan base and irritate them.

    Really? You mean the people who come to this website because they enjoyed my anti-war games, my games with their intense dislike of shallow conceptions of normality and their emphasis on understanding over conflict? You really think those people will be annoyed that I refuse to give in to little shits like yourself?

  4. Sebastian

     /  May 2, 2011

    Reading the stinking outpourings of a really really really stupid git like John Z somehow makes me despair.

  5. James Patton

     /  May 2, 2011

    According to the Telegraph, they ruled out the use of drone strike since it would lead to civilian casualties:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8487355/Osama-bin-Laden-killed-how-the-deadly-US-raid-unfolded.html

    I know it’s not great, but they did at least try to be “surgical”. Admittedly, they didn’t succeed – some innocents were sadly killed – but at least they didn’t take the safest option (if that’s the right way of phrasing it) at the cost of more civilian lives.

    Also, he did apparently resist the squad which was sent to capture/kill him, which was why he was killed rather than taken alive:

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/05/02/osama-bin-laden-would-have-been-taken-alive-if-possible-says-john-brennan-115875-23103198/

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/u-s-forces-kill-osama-bin-laden/

    Of course, if somebody blew their way into your house and you were the most wanted man in the world, I daresay you’d put up a fight too. So maybe that’s a moot point. And, of course, we only have their word that Bin Laden was given the chance to surrender.

    But this cuts both ways: some time ago Bin Laden himself said that he would never be captured alive, and, it must be said, he was one of the most zealous people on the planet and almost certainly believed that it would be far better for him to die as a martyr (and presumably go to paradise) than to live as a figure of failure and shame.

    Although this is unpalateable, I don’t know what else the Americans could have done. One group of people which ought to uphold democracy and fairness has come up against another which responds with radical preaching, boundless religious loathing and suicide bombers. There is simply no way that the two can interact positively. What would the Americans offer him? How could they possibly give him anything that he wants? What they wanted, ideally, was to take him alive, not just because it’s the “right” thing to do but because it would definitely look better for them, and a public trial would, I presume, be an amazing victory and a chance to show off just how right their cause is and how crazy Bin Laden’s is.

    But what could they possibly offer him? “Come out and we won’t kill you?” This is a man who actually *wants* to die in the service of his cause. The only thing he wants is to serve his insane beliefs, and there’s no way that anyone from America can offer him that. If they’d surrounded the house and told him to come out, I don’t see why he would have come out. He would, I’m fairly certain, have rather starved to death than become a prisoner. And I’m fairly certain that he would have had weapons in that house, and the house has windows. Maybe he had a whole arsenal in there, it’s possible. After all, he was the most wanted man in the world and he was head of a terrorist organisation. He might even have built a bomb and blown dozens of people up along with himself. Bin Laden was the kind of person who’d do that.

    Also, the Americans raided the house without telling the Pakistinian authorities. Yes, you could argue that they didn’t have jurisdiction. But since the compound was so close to the Pakistinian military academy, it’s possible that somebody in the Pakistinian government knew Bin Laden was there, and would have tipped him off. Hence, they went in without permission. And if they had maintained a seige, how long would they have been able to stay there before Pakistan kicked them out? And what if Bin Laden got away, perhaps by using the three families in the house as a distraction? It might have worked. And what if he had got away? He would have gone to ground again, perhaps never to surface again. And all the time he’s hidden, he’s also running (or at least acting as a contributing force towards) a global terrorist network, which wants nothing more than to kill as many innocent people as possible.

    So, my point is, I simply don’t see how democratic values could possibly function in that situation. These democratic values which I personally think are worth fighting and perhaps even dying for, and which I am eternally grateful to past generations for, simply can’t work in that sort of situation. There is no crossover at all. At least the Nazi high command knew when they were beaten and gave up, or committed suicide. But Bin Laden would most likely have tried to take as many people with him as he possibly could.

    I know it’s not perfect. I just watched a video of Obama announcing the news to the world; he used this as an example of what Americans can do when they set their minds to it. His final comments were:

    “Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.”

    It turned my stomach a little. To take this much pride in somebody’s death seems extremely questionable to me. But, had they tried to capture him alive – preserve his life – it would almost certainly have led only to the deaths either of SWAT team members or of innocent civilians. And it seems unlikely he would have given them the same treatment. I know it’s unpalateable but I simply don’t see how else it could have been done.

    I agree that all this cheering and celebration is macabre, though. “Thrilling”? No. Maybe it’s justice, even if it’s not of a judicial kind. But thrilling? If it is, it shouldn’t be.

  6. I haven’t found any information on exactly how he died. I’ve heard there was a fire fight, and I’ve heard that he tried to shoot a woman before he got shot twice in the head. If either story is true, though, then his death was unavoidable.

    I agree that every human deserves a trial, and that’s the only thing about this whole affair that I wish were different. He probably would have been sentenced to death by lethal injection or something, but at least he would have had to answer for his crimes before a court of law.

  7. Let’s remember, we’re talking about one of the mightiest nations on the planet, with a spy network and army unmatched by just about anyone, against one old dude. He wasn’t some comic book villain who could take half the world with him. As DarkAcre put it on Twitter: “it ain’t right that the most advanced warfighters in the world can’t take a 54-year-old cancer victim alive for real justice. ”

    Also, in my book, respecting the sovereign rights of another nation is more important than killing one dude, even if that dude is a criminal. Respecting your own laws is even more important. What would you prefer, an America that sticks by its principles even if it means one of its enemies survives, or an America that compromises its principles but kills its enemies?

  8. Well, I don’t blame you for being sick. Just the thought of Condoleeza Rice having an orgasm is making me gag.
    And you’re right. They are acting like a bunch of uncivilized apes. Well, that’s a bit insulting to the apes. The apes actually have emotions other than adrenaline rush.

  9. john

     /  May 2, 2011

    if he were to be put in prison im sure that his people would just break him out again. he killed thousands of innocent people and deserves to be dead, not alive in prison

  10. Really? How powerful do you think his organization is, if they could barely protect or hide him? You imagine Osama bin Laden as some kind of evil mastermind like those found in superhero comics. All he was was the head of a terrorist organization originally created by the United States; an organization quickly losing its relevance with the changes happening in Africa and the Middle East. He doesn’t have superpowers. He doesn’t have an army. Do you really think his followers could break him out of a prison in the United States? And escape? They couldn’t even get to the United States to begin with.

    Yes, Osama bin Laden killed thousands of innocent people. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars killed a million. Do the perpetrators of such crimes deserve to be tried? Yes. Do they deserve to die? I don’t know. Who gets to decide who lives and who dies? I don’t trust anyone with that kind of power, including myself. But if you believe Osama bin Laden deserves to die, it follows that you must believe that Bush, Cheney, Obama, Merkel, Blair, etc. all also deserve to die.

  11. James Patton

     /  May 3, 2011

    “Also, in my book, respecting the sovereign rights of another nation is more important than killing one dude, even if that dude is a criminal. Respecting your own laws is even more important. What would you prefer, an America that sticks by its principles even if it means one of its enemies survives, or an America that compromises its principles but kills its enemies?”

    Well, when you put it that way… you make a lot of sense. My main concern, though, is that I’m unsure how much damage he could have done to the world if he were still alive, compared to the (presumably relatively little) he’ll do now he’s dead. He was probably largely a figurehead rather than an actual leader pulling the strings, but if he was such a pivotal figure who was charismatic and able to unite people behind him then he contributed to terrorism.

    And if that is true – and I honestly don’t have enough information to decide whether it is or not, but if it *is* – then whether his death was morally justified seems less important, since it might have prevented future loss of lives.

    But, of course, that’s then offset by the possible terrorist backlash following his death. So I don’t really know where I stand on this.

    About the US not being able to take down one 54-year-old cancer victim despite being extremely powerful – I’m not sure I buy that. I definitely get where they’re coming from, but at the end of the day, whether he could be taken alive boils down to what individual people were doing during that raid. No matter how powerful the US is, it can’t have complete control over a situation.

    Also, for details on the raid, see this:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/video/brian-ross-view-osama-bin-ladens-death-13509897

    See about 1:30 onwards. If you can stand the rather brash patriotism… *sigh*

    I’m not sure how reliable this guy is, but it seems that the SEAL team (comprised of 30 SEALs) entered the house aparently undetected during the night and went from room to room looking for Bin Laden. They found him and asked him to surrender, and he didn’t, “so they had to shoot him”.

    Now, I’m not sure exactly how that worked out, and it seems unlikely that this spokesperson was actually there when this happened, so he probably doesn’t know for absolute certain either. My opinion is, if he went for a gun then they had no choice but to shoot him, since he could have caused more loss of life. If he simply said “I don’t surrender” and then didn’t do anything then, conversely, it was obviously wrong to kill him since he could have been overpowered.

    But, since several people other than Bin Laden were killed, it seems plausible that he put up a fight.

    I know he’s not a supervillain, but a gun is an extremely powerful thing which can kill people with relatively little effort. If he’d known he was surrounded and had a weapon he could have killed all the innocent people in that house, and if he had managed to get outside the compound, bringing the firefight into the streets, more people could have been hurt; far more if he had a bomb, which, while definitely not certain, is at least a possibility when dealing with a terrorist. And, while he would probably have been brought down eventually, would it have been worth risking civilian lives and the lives of the SEALs (who, although part of a militant government operation, are themselves presumably not criminals and therefore blameless) for the life of a man who they know to have killed hundreds of people?

    And… well, I know that the above paragraph goes directly against democratic judicial principles. He should have had a fair trial, even if the outcome of said trial was pretty much certain. But I don’t think you can criticise them on their *methods* in carrying out the raid. If there is a criticism to be made (and I accept that there is one), it is regarding their decision to kill him in the first place. Which you have made in your previous post, of course, but I just want to make myself absolutely clear.

  12. My main concern, though, is that I’m unsure how much damage he could have done to the world if he were still alive, compared to the (presumably relatively little) he’ll do now he’s dead.

    According to everything I’ve read, the power and relevance of Al-Qaeda has been waning. They’re barely present in Afghanistan, and the revolutions in Africa and the Middle East are making them even more irrelevant. Now they’re back in the news, and Obama has again proven that America will not respect the rights of other nations.

  13. James Patton

     /  May 3, 2011

    Also, the idea that his followers would simply break him out of a US maximum-security prison is… questionable. Bear in mind that there must be plenty of terrorists in prisons (or Guantanamo bay?) whom their free fellow-terrorists would love to break out, and yet none (as far as I know) have succeeded.

    And I’m not sure he “deserves” to die. Any questions of “deserving” are very difficult to quantify. Like Jonas, I honestly don’t know if he, or any other mass murderer, should actually be punished with death. I can see, from a utilitarian point of view, why it might be a beneficial thing, but as to whether he “deserves” it? That’s really too hard to say.

  14. bringing the firefight into the streets, more people could have been hurt

    Yeah, but he’s one guy. An old, sick guy who was surprised in the middle of the night.

    far more if he had a bomb, which, while definitely not certain, is at least a possibility when dealing with a terrorist.

    I doubt he had a bomb in his bedroom in his luxurious mansion. Obama commands planes to kill civilians in third-world countries, but I don’t think he sleeps with a cruise missile under his pillow.

    Killing Osama also keeps alive his image as the bogeyman, now defeated by the heroic President. A trial would have shown him as a criminal, but it would also have demythologized him. He was a terrorist leader, but not actually that remarkable.

  15. James Patton

     /  May 3, 2011

    According to everything I’ve read, the power and relevance of Al-Qaeda has been waning. They’re barely present in Afghanistan, and the revolutions in Africa and the Middle East are making them even more irrelevant. Now they’re back in the news, and Obama has again proven that America will not respect the rights of other nations.

    Hmm… that is a distinct possibility. Their power as a military force is probably not very impressive. But what about their ability as a group who can organise or even just inspire radical Muslims across the world to kill hundreds of people in service of their beliefs? Even if he was just a figurehead, it’s possible he could indirectly cause more terrorist attacks. The proof that these attacks have occured and could occur again is in the attacks themselves, and I think we can all agree they were terrible. The proof that these attacks were down to the inspiration of Al-Qaeda, rather than, say, the inspiration of a particular local leader is impossible to verify, and is probably untrue in some cases. But I can’t help thinking that the massive, global fear – that you could have crazy suicide-bombing Muslims in your own back yard – must have *some* truth in it, despite being largely fear-mongering, since such attacks have occured.

  16. James Patton

     /  May 3, 2011

    Not under his pillow, no, but since he was top of the US’s most wanted list, I don’t think it’s a massive stretch to suppose that he might have planned for this contingency.

    And, while he might not have slept with a cruise missile under his pillow, it’s not at all improbable that he would sleep with a gun under his pillow, or somewhere else within easy reach.

  17. But what allows people like Osama bin Laden to recruit others in the first place? I gravely doubt it’s a “hatred of the American Way of Life.” Bombings and the support of dictatorial regimes in the Middle East seem like a more likely reason. Killing more people will not prevent future attacks, it will increase the likelihood of further attacks.

    And again, I’d like to point out the differences in scale between Osama’s (undeniably barbaric) crimes and what the United States and their allies (particularly Europe and Australia) have done in the Middle East. Does that mean assassination attempts against the leaders of those countries are legitimate? I don’t think so.

  18. I’m not proud of myself for this but I kind of believe that, from an utilitarian point of view, the murder of Barack Obama would actually save thousands of lives. Maybe make thousands of lives a little longer?

    I would definitely prefer a trial, because of Democracy and all that, although I know for sure he sleeps with some bombs under the pillow.

  19. I’m not proud of myself for this but I kind of believe that, from an utilitarian point of view, the murder of Barack Obama would actually save thousands of lives. Maybe make thousands of lives a little longer?

    I think the exact opposite is true: such an event would only give the warmongering forces in our governments a great excuse to kill even more people. Obama is just a person; the problem is with the system.

  20. I think the exact opposite is true

    You’re quite right. I was just trying to show how crazy that would sound if we say it about the other terrorist, you know, the one still alive killing people.

  21. “Well, when you put it that way… you make a lot of sense. My main concern, though, is that I’m unsure how much damage he could have done to the world if he were still alive, compared to the (presumably relatively little) he’ll do now he’s dead. He was probably largely a figurehead rather than an actual leader pulling the strings, but if he was such a pivotal figure who was charismatic and able to unite people behind him then he contributed to terrorism.”

    But is it not not far more likely that being a martyrs is going to inspire far more hatred and killings then simply a hiding or captured criminal?

    And from what have been told they disposed of his body at sea so that he would not get a proper funeral or get any kind of shrine built around his grave site. Too me this is basically a defacement of the body of an enemy and has never been something that caused anything but further anger hatred and killing in the past and I believe that is what it will do this time as well.
    I don’t care if he is a evil guy, he is now dead and if there are enough people who respected him to give him a shrine and protect it against the people who don’t like him then it seem to me that that is a very democratic way of seeing if he deserves one but at the very least it would not hurt anyone and would help to bring more understanding between two fighting factions.

  22. You guys see you’re not acting any better, right? America: “The terrorist who knocked over our buildings is dead!”

    You: “You bunch of hypocritical idiots! You should have taken him alive!”

    I agree that Osama should have been taken alive, but only if it was reasonably practical. Was it reasonably practical? That’s a question you all seem to be ignoring. And nobody is willing to answer the question of what happened when the man was killed. I’ve heard two stories: That there was a firefight and he was killed (I assume that means he and a bunch of other guys had taken cover and were shooting at the Seals who stormed the building and he got shot when he came out from behind his cover to fire his gun); and that two Seals stormed a room with guns raised and ordered him to surrender, and his response was to grab a woman and hold a gun to her head, which earned him two bullets to the head.

    What happened?

    Jonas, I’m disappointed. You’re just as fanatical as us Americans. Am I denying your claims? No. I’m saying they apply to you too.

    Ultimately, this is a mystery, and we need to know what happened. If there’s one thing anyone should know it’s that you do not give the order, “He must be taken alive!” You give this order instead: “And try to take him alive if it’s reasonably practical.”

  23. And suddenly the end italics tags don’t work.

  24. I would say I agree with wolfgang, they were at war and they often do not take leaders alive and in a firefight situation no matter how powerful your country is that does not really translate being able to take someone alive.

  25. News article just went up that says Osama was not armed. I guarantee that people who simply want to hate the US government will not read past that part, because the article goes on to say that he resisted, but that details are still muddled about the whole thing and that there’s still a lot of information about the incident to be sorted through.

    In short, we still don’t know exactly what happened to him. All I can really say is that the Evil Overlord’s List has one thing on there that’s part of police training for a reason: Take him alive if it’s reasonably practical. Sometimes, you just can’t take the guy alive and you have to shoot.

  26. Do you really believe the government gave orders to get him alive? And do you really believe the most powerful government in the world, with the most advanced military equipment in the world, could not take a bunch of dudes in a third-world country alive? In a military operation that had been planned for months, if not years? The differences in scale and power between the two groups are so huge, it’s ridiculous.

    Anyway, he was not armed and there was no woman. He was shot twice in the head. (Why not in the leg?)

    Again: this was an old, sick man, not some supervillain.

    And you know what? Yes, I do expect members of an army, if they represent a democratic nation, to at least take some risks and get the job done properly.

    They managed to take most of the Nazis alive. The Nazis had a huge technological empire. Osama bin Laden had a handful of guys in a third-world country.

  27. James Patton

     /  May 5, 2011

    This news article gives more details:

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/osama-unarmed-during-operation-admits-white-house/785618/

    To quote the White House official:

    “There was concern that bin Laden would oppose the capture operation rather, and, indeed, he did resist,” he said. “In the room with bin Laden, a woman rather, bin Laden’s wife, rushed the US assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed. Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed.”

    This seems… unsettling. As far as I can tell, Bin Laden’s “resistance” did not mean he was armed, or threatening, or even hiding behind somebody else. Is it possible that, by “resisting”, the White House means he was running away? Or gesturing in terror? Is it even possible that he could have been captured alive?

    I’m now completely unsure as to how I stand on this. Bin Laden was definitely a bad person, and I don’t think he’ll be missed except by radicals, but this raises a more unsavoury question: if the US were determined enough, would they be able to enter *any* house in the world and kill anybody they pleased? I’m not saying the US is necessarily going in a “V for Vendetta” direction, but it’s still extremely unsettling…

  28. Obama has previously already signed an assassination order for an American citizen. They have given themselves precisely that power.

  29. James Patton

     /  May 6, 2011

    That’s practically medieval. When and who was this?

  30. Joska

     /  May 8, 2011

    I think it makes not much sense to argue over if Osamba should (or could) have been captured alive. That’s mere detail taken the fact that they got him outside their authority. This is a violation of international law, but they don’t care becouse they know they can bully the 3rd world countries anyway they like becouse those countries don’t have the power to resist this. Probably this arrogant meddling brought the terrorism on them at the first place. (The fundamental islamism must be just iceing on the cake, religion was never the real cause of any war, it’s always just a good excuse.)

    By the way I think Osama was better off this way than by getting captured: he is saved from humilation in the courtroom and highly probable abuse in the prison. Also the world is saved from a sickening conceptional trial. (At least it sickens me when criminals are being judged by other criminals. Just like the trials of the nazis after WW II: they deserved what they got, but those who judged over them – the allieds – had their fingers in the pie too!)

  31. @James:

    Here’s a link.

  32. James Patton

     /  May 10, 2011

    That’s deeply disturbing. Even if most of these people would be sentenced to death if they were arrested anyway, the fact that they’re doing away with judicial process in its entirety means there are just no safeguards, going from “You are a suspect” to “You will be executed” with nothing in between.

    Add to that the fact that practically every American seems to be rejoicing in Bin Laden’s death without anyone so much as questioning it and… it seems foolhardy in the extreme.