Death deserves reflection | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
June 22, 2011 · 10:48 AM
To the editor:
We should think about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, now that the celebration is over.
I disagree with President Obama’s claim that “Justice was done.”
Justice is a process for those accused of even the most horrible crimes, and as history shows, for good reason. A plan to execute captured Nazi leaders without trial was opposed by President Truman after the Nuremberg Trial prosecutor advised that summary execution “would not sit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride ... the only course is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as dispassionate as the times will permit and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear.”
Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army was recently captured. He directed the siege of Sarajevo and the murders of 10,000 people, including 1,600 children. In Srebrenica, 8,000 Muslim men and boys — all civilians, were murdered in one day. Mladic will be brought to justice for genocide and crimes against humanity.
By bringing such people to trial, there is at least a chance for a full accounting of what happened, of all who were involved and what never must happen again. We didn’t bring Bin Laden to justice. We just killed him — and four others.
Apparently, there was no desire to take Bin Laden alive and many viewed his killing as an assassination. It didn’t help for the Obama Administration to offer conflicting accounts. Bin Laden was not armed and did not participate in a firefight as first reported. Neither was a woman used as a human shield. His 12-year old daughter, who saw her father killed, says he was taken alive then shot. Whatever happened, we “got him” with a bullet to the chest and the head.
To many, it doesn’t matter how it happened. But it should. We knew where Bin Laden was for months and did not involve our allies. Doing so may have reduced the risk to our soldiers and the women and children inside. It’s said that we couldn’t trust Pakistan, yet we’ve been giving $1.5 billion to their military annually. And, the administration still wants to give Pakistan $7.5 billion over the next five years.
President Obama’s go-it-alone decision was seen as “gutsy” and improved his ratings. But the war in Afghanistan continues, even though finding Bin Laden was the stated reason for starting it. We proved we that can find and kill anyone — and sneak troops into other nations to do so. That makes other governments fear us, but does it make them trust us?
Death and violence in the countries we occupy continues — not to mention the drone missile attacks and “collateral damage” in Pakistan. We’ve killed a leader, but not his widely-shared beliefs. Revenge has been promised, and those who are already willing to blow themselves up will not be deterred by fear.
I’ll do my celebrating when we end the cycle of violence and bring the troops home from our endless wars. Wars, which since 9/11, have cost many lives and about $1.283 trillion we can ill afford.