Death of bin Laden – act of Justice or Revenge?
The whole world was informed that a team of the U.S. Special Forces managed to kill Osama bin Laden in a raid that took place just outside the capital of Pakistan. I am of the belief that the majority of people inhabiting this planet share the opinion that the leader and founder of Al Qaeda was accountable for great suffering, and for that I will not be mourning his death. Nevertheless every action is followed by causes as well as consequences … and in this moment each and every one are dangerous and threatening. I strongly doubt that the killing of Osama bin Laden will have much impact on the already weakened capacity of Al Qaeda, generally alleged to count only a couple hundred of fighters scattered between Afghanistan and Pakistan; even though the level of its impact on other extremist groups is unknown. So does the killing of Osama bin Laden signify ultimate righteousness or justice or even a closure to the “unfinished business” of 9/11?
I will not even try to investigate or think about the conspiracy theories, one of the many in which the U.S. were involved throughout history, claiming that the killing of Osama bin Laden was a fake or a construction of pure propaganda. Even though people love this type of talk and find it extremely intriguing, however I do not believe that the President of the U.S.A. will even think the possibility of fooling so openly the entire human race, and especially for such a delicate matter. So I left myself to believe that such talk belongs to the sphere of imagination. Instead I will make an attempt to understand the reasoning and the outcome of this occurrence. I watched and listened carefully the statement of President Obama who stated that: “After a fire fight, they killed Osama bin Laden.” However, even if we assume that that was really the case, the specific raid revealed the violent and cruel reality generated by the deadly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that preceded it and that continue today, ten years later. Hence was it really about bringing someone, anyone, to justice, or was it actually about vengeance?
It is tragic that the wars proclaimed by the U.S. in the name of capturing the person responsible for the 9/11 tragedy have had a massive cost which is still being paid in blood and human lives by Pakistanis, Iraqis, Afghans and others. And it is particularly ironic that in the end it wasn’t the shock-and-awe airstrikes or attacks of ground troops, but rather thorough police work, careful investigation and cultivating intelligence sources that made possible the accomplishment of that goal.
President Obama acknowledged that the unity shown by the U.S. nation in the post-9/11 era “has at time frayed.” Nevertheless he neglected to mention that this unity had in fact collapsed entirely within 24 hours after the shocking attacks on the twin towers. In fact, September 11th didn’t “change the world;” the world was rather transformed on the day after, when the former president George W. Bush declared his intention to respond by taking the world to war. That was the moment that the actual events of 9/11, a hideous crime that killed nearly 3,000 people, were put aside and the “global war on terror” began. This war has generated years of war, destruction and devastation to millions around the world, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and beyond.
The crime of 9/11 was followed by an extraordinary surge of unity and of human solidarity. However, almost instantaneously much of the people in the U.S. have altered that respond in a jingoistic and xenophobic frame; some of it was clearly racist, militaristic and Islamophobic. However, there were some expressions that really did reflect a level of human unity unexpected and rare in U.S. history. Even internationally, solidarity with the people of the U.S., even for an instance, had replaced the justified global anger at the wars, arrogance, and policy towards empire of the United States. I remember distinctively some French headlines proclaiming “nous sommes tous Américaines maintenant” (we are all Americans now). Last night, while watching the news I was reminded of the same feelings and expressions. Even though extreme reactions were absent it was clear that some of the same views and expressions showed up again in the aggressive chants of “USA, USA!!” and the flag-waving by the cheering crowd outside the White House after the President Obama’s speech.
However that human solidarity and unity didn’t last for long. They were diminished by the illegal wars that formed the response of the U.S. to the 9/11 crime. Those wars rapidly resulted in numbers of victims far exceeding the 3,000 victims of 9/11. The lives of millions worldwide were changed because of the U.S. aggression; U.S. drone strikes alone have resulted in the death and maim of thousands while suicide bombing attacks have become a part of the continuing legacy of the U.S. war. These wars have caused too much destruction and death, too many people have been affected, too many people have experienced horror, for the U.S. to state, as President Obama’s proudly did, that “justice has been done” because a man, however symbolically significant, has been killed. Whatever the result in the evaluation of when and how “this conflict” actually started, the truth is that the U.S. government consciously decided how to react to the crime of 9/11. The truth is that the response, from the beginning, had little to do with justice, it was rather a well planned action of war and vengeance. These actions on the long run benefited the policy of the government (not the people), and in general the people behind the conspiracy theories related to world dominance.