Justifying Bin Laden's execution


US President Obama yesterday calmly announced to US citizens and to the world that Osama Bin Laden had been killed and his body taken into US custody, after a firefight during a US special operation at a house in Pakistan where Bin Laden had been sheltered, one gathers for a long time.

The President noted that no Americans and no Pakistani civilians had been killed. He said he had informed the President of Pakistan (after the event, it seems pretty clear) and that both agreed Bin Laden's death was good for Pakistan as well as for the US.

Obama underlined the continuity of US policy which he had inherited from George Bush and made his own when taking office, that the top priority of US global intelligence operations was to locate and kill or capture Bin Laden as punishment for Al Qaeda's mass murders of 11 September 2001. 

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He noted that this was not a fight the US had started; that Bin Laden's Al Qaeda had launched war on the US. He said that all Americans whatever their ethnicity or religion could be proud that justice had been done today.

I heard no Hollywood macho, unseemly chauvinistic gloating, nor any anti-Muslim undertones, in the President's sober presentation of what the US special forces had done in another sovereign country and why. This was, to my ear, a President of moral stature taking personal responsibility, with dignity and even nobility.

What is the political and moral significance of today's news?

Politically, it will revive US self-confidence about its role and power in the world, and will enhance global perceptions of the US as a resolute and ruthless opponent when its citizens or interests are attacked outside the bounds of international law.

It will also counter the idea that US Democratic administrations are weaker than Republicans when it comes to giving effect to tough foreign policy decisions. Obama succeeded where Bush had failed: he ended the US war in Iraq and brought Bin Laden to final US punishment.

Moreover, the ghost of Carter's failed hostage rescue operation in Iran has been finally laid to rest by this audacious, apparently flawlessly conducted military operation in Pakistan.

Obama's evident toughness may help restore more dignity and sense of proportion to the increasingly trivial and silly tone of how Americans have lately been encouraged by the infotainment industry to see their president.

Robert Fisk suggests it won't make much difference globally: that Bin Laden's lasting achievement remains the generation of a self-sustaining Al Qaeda ideology; that the man himself has been on the run and ineffective as a terrorist leader for some years; and that Arab and Muslim politics has moved beyond him and Al Qaeda.

There is truth in this, yet Bin Laden's execution marks the end of an era, that could not completely be achieved while he still lived as a man at liberty, free to thumb his nose at US power and prestige.

And it would have been intolerable for American prestige, and for Obama's political standing at home, if the tenth anniversary of 9/11 should have passed with Bin Laden still at large and vocally defiant.

There is little doubt that Bin Laden was being protected by the powerful Pakistan ISI (Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence), effectively a state within a state. It suited ISI's Byzantine political agenda to give Bin Laden safe refuge, in defiance of Pakistan's nominal ally the US.

Al Qaeda has not pulled off any successful terrorist attack in a Western country for many years, thanks to increasingly effective Western counter-terrorism operations. Al Qaeda is reduced to attacks on Westerners in more loosely policed Muslim countries like Morocco. With Bin Laden dead, the world has less to fear from any Al Qaeda inheritors of his bloody mantle. Though continued vigilance will be needed, it is a declining movement.

The event will enhance America's prestige or 'soft power' as a global leader, but it will not arrest America's steadily declining global hegemony on the scales that count most — economic power. The shift of economic and exemplary power to China will continue.

One can also say that the event vindicates China's grand strategy of challenging US global power economically, while staying within the global rules-based order over which the US still presides. The event supports China's advice to states like Iran and even Russia that the best way to challenge US power is legally, staying within the world rules-based order, and not attempting high-risk provocative political or military actions.

In Afghanistan, to the extent that the Taliban disengages from Al Qaeda, the Taliban will remain a powerful militant voice of Afghan nationalism, however much we abhor its values. The case for an internal Afghan political settlement with the Taliban will strengthen as the Pakistan-based Al Qaeda influence now weakens. This suggests the wisdom of prudent, life-conserving rules of engagement for Australian forces in Afghanistan — there is no victory to be won there, just a negotiated peace.

Was the killing morally justified? It ticks my boxes. Obama was bringing an unrepentant planner of mass murder (who had been amply warned) to justice.

Obama was admirably honest that Bin Laden had been killed after, not during, the firefight. It was clearly an authorised extra-territorial execution. Why wasn't Bin Laden taken alive and returned from Pakistan to face US courts? Given the power and dubious loyalty to the US of Pakistan's ISI, there could have been great uncertainties in getting a live captive Bin Laden out of Pakistan against ISI's wishes. A resulting political crisis could have tipped an already unstable, insecurely allied nation over the edge into chaos.

Here is a case where the cutting of the Gordian knot through an on-the-spot execution may be justified as the lesser evil. The US has the death penalty, and no reasonable person could dispute that Bin Laden inevitably would have faced that penalty after trial in the US.

It was admirable that Obama did not try to pretend that Bin Laden had been accidentally killed during the fighting. He 'fessed up to the facts, and took responsibility. Some may call this an extra-judicial murder of an untried man. I am not among them.

Tony KevinTony Kevin retired from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1998, after a 30-year public service career in DFAT and Prime Minister's Department. He was Australia's ambassador to Poland (1991–94) and Cambodia (1994–97). 

Topic tags: Osama Bin Laden, dead, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban, September 11, 9-11, Obama, War on Terror



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Existing comments

Tony's piece is admirably direct and thoughtful. As you can imagine, Americans are agog. We cannot celebrate deaths, of which bin Laden's was only one; but we can grimly assert that a murderous thug met the end he deserved. That man was responsible for many thosuands of innocents murdered, and millions of people's lives bent and twisted by the agency of his hate; as Obama pointed out, this vain thug murdered more Muslims than non-Muslims, and his death, apparently from two bullets fired by U.S. Navy Seals, will, I hope, close a story that was nothing but blood, for all his claims of religious intent. I hope God can forgive him.
Brian Doyle | 03 May 2011

Tony Kevin is content that the extra-territorial execution of Bin Laden 'ticks all the boxes' morally, and is further justified on the grounds that it represented a 'lesser evil'.

Further, Tony Kevin contends that because the United States has the death penalty, his execution was in effect was only delaying the inevitable.

These sentiments are completely at odds with the expressed views of both the United States and other Western nations over the last 10 years that once captured Bin Laden ought to be brought to justice and made accountable for his crimes against humanity in a court of law.
We either believe in the rule of law and order and due process, irrespective of the crimes of any individual, or we subscribe to the view that the means justify the ends, the very philosophy that terrorist groups embrace routinely. Justice cannot mean taking the law into our own hands, be that at an individual or government level.
Extra-territorial executions set dubious precedents, and we would be rightly outraged if another nation saw fit to act in similar ways against citizens of our country.
Furthermore,Tony Kevin's sanguine acceptance of the death penalty in the United States, as though that is uncontentious morally, is belied by the opposition of all other Western nations to its practice.
We can be simultaneously committed to bringing those guilty of crimes against humanity to justice whilst doing so in a just, moral and legal manner. We need to be.

THOMAS RYAN | 03 May 2011

I agree with the article setting out the justification for killing Bin Laden. I must admit, though, I have a sense of doubt I can't shake off. Is death row in the United States justifiable? I can see how this is different but I wonder whether deliberate killing can ever be justified. I simply don't know.
Maureen Strazzari | 03 May 2011

No physical evidence of Osama's identity- no independent DNA testing- body dumped at sea at undisclosed location- headshot image circulated has been online for a couple of years- was Osama executed at Abbotabad or is this a case of Wag the Dog II?
Vacy Vlazna | 03 May 2011

The President's patriotic expressions do not sit easily with the fact that he sat through several church sermons that pilloried the United States. Apparently he received these in silence and came back for more. Most of us have paradoxical dimensions to our personalities. Obviously the President of the United States is no exception.
Grebo | 03 May 2011

Thanks Tony for your very helpful piece. BUT!!! Even conceding that this “is a case where the cutting of the Gordian knot through an on-the-spot execution may be justified as the lesser evil”, one can still take exception to President Obama’s language which implied that the Gordian knot had not been cut: eg: “I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice”. Then five sentences later, “After a firefight, they killed Obama bin Laden and took custody of his body.” Then later, “On nights like this one, we can say:” “justice has been done”. “But tonight they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.” “…we do these things because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

No in these extraordinarily vexed circumstances, including an untrustworthy Pakistani security service, a decision was made not to accord bin Laden the procedural justice of a trial before execution. He was not shot in the heat of battle. This vile terrorist was cold bloodedly executed. Yes he would have ended up dead anyway even if US justice processes were able to take their course. But let’s not paper over the judicial fact. The US President authorized an operation to kill bin Laden. Bush wanted him dead of alive. Obama ten years on decided, probably quite rightly, that he could only get him dead. Despite what Obama said to the world, this was never an operation to bring bin Laden to justice. This was an operation authorized at the top to kill bin Laden and without trial. That is not justice in the sense that Obama was wanting us to accept.

Frank Brennan SJ | 03 May 2011

Very well said Tony Kevin the operation was well planned and well achieved by the Americans in every detail There only remains the CONVERSATION with Pakistan as to WHY and HOW Bin Laden was given sanctuary as it is supposedly America's ally.
pamela byrnes | 03 May 2011

I always rejoice to see Tony Kevin's name on the title page of ES. What a privilege it to enjoy commentary of this calibre. Thanks again.
Joe Castley | 03 May 2011

I understand why those affected by 9\11 losing loved ones or by Bin Laden's evil deeds feel jubilation at his sanctioned killing which is how Tony Kevin describes it.Victims and their relatives understandably can lack objectivity.

But Bin laden has had the last laugh.As a society we have since 9\11 eroded the rule of law all over the western world in reponse to his actions. Now his killing ticks all boxes morally.What have we become?Should not have he been brought to trial? Is it okay to kill all those tryants out there without recourse to the law.Who makes that call?.It would have annoyed him if we had tried in accordance with the law.For then he would see his attempts to change us had failed.
Tony Kerin | 03 May 2011

After seeing, on TV, the flag-waving, cheering/jeering mobs outside the White House - indistinguishable from the cheering/jeering mobs we often see in the aftermath of some violent incident elsewhere across the world - I was heartened by Father Frank Brennan’s sobering contribution.

The word “justice” seems to fall from our lips far too readily - and far too selectively. There’s no doubt Osama committed great evil. But if the justice we would insist on for ourselves is to have any persuasive purchase in those circumstances where it does not occur, then we have to be prepared to extend it to everyone.
Stephen Kellett | 03 May 2011

I cannot believe that justice can ever be served by execution, assassination, murder by executive order to the military [or any other party] perpetrated at home or by assault on the soil of another nation.

I have no doubt that Osama Bin Laden was a dangerous enemy driven by evil intent but even he had the right, under the law of any civilised nation, to face his accusers in a court of law.

We as citizens of civilised nations had the right to face him at the bar of justice. The ‘Ugly American’ has trampled these ‘inalienable’ rights [Bin Laden’s and ours] underfoot. Thus conforming to the world view of all dictatorships that might is right.

Noam Chomsky said, in 1990, ‘[that] If the Nuremberg laws were applied [to the Americans as they were applied to the Germans and Japanese], then every post-war American president would have been hanged.’ Today in 2011, all things being equal, Chomsky can comfortably add Barack Obama to that shameful list. Chomsky also noted: ‘…everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there is a really easy way: stop participating in it.

Dermott Ryder | 03 May 2011

It's interesting to note 'Tough' Tony Kevin's point of view...However, Tony was Australia's ambassador to Cambodia during the 1994 kidnapping and murder of Aussie backpacker David Wilson by the Khmer Rouge. I have emailed him numerous times getting him to speak on the issue without success. Perhaps Tony would like to tell us his views on the death of Wilson..? Further info read Alastair Gaisford comments


sasha uzunov | 03 May 2011

Did Marxism end with the death of Karl Marx? Did Christianity end with the death of Jesus?
Beat Odermatt | 03 May 2011

I appreciate the strength of Tony's arguments, but I find the action and the defences made for it deeply disquieting.

The difficulty with making exceptions to the rule of law is that they multiply and expand, eventually corroding the force of law to defend even the virtuous. This is particularly true in the case of international law which has no effective sanctions to uphold it.

Once it is given that the killing of prisoners, the execution of suspects or the torture of people who may have helpful knowledge are justifiable by the judgment of officers of any one government outside the law, any other government will be able to claim the same justification for pursuing its enemies. The moral force of international law will be lost, and we shall all be diminished by it.

The understanding that a nation may not procure assassinations in nations with which it is not at war, and that prisoners taken must be tried by a court of law before being executed, helps the security of all people. To erode it, and to defend its erosion, seems reckless and to benefit no one.
Andy Hamilton | 03 May 2011

I do not at this time judge the killing of Obma, though I do not approve of extra judisal killing. I was (as an American) appaled at the news photos of the behavior of the young people outside the White Houe last night. Shades of the worst blood thirsty mobs any place in the world. As a Christian I am not pleased by the un-natural death of any of Gods creatures.
Richard Byrne | 03 May 2011

Sorry, Tony. For once, I am not convinced.
Agree entirely with Andy Hamilton.
Here in France we pay US$8.80 a gallon for petrol. In Australia I understand it is about US$5.70 a gallon. Americans are now up in arms because it is now more than $3.00 a gallon. How can this be?

We must accept the fact that the USA has been running a foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere for decades to 'acquire' oil for its own consumption at a price which includes the lives of several hundred US soldiers and several tens of thousands of foreign lives each year.

Australia's temporary Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson admitted as much in 2008. It was this evil, greedy, thieving US foreign policy which Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda sought to counter on behalf of its many victims in 2001.

Were they right in so doing? Depends on your theology of a just war.
Whatever our theology, bin Laden certainly deserved to have his assessed by a competent tribunal.
Was it it this that the USA could not countenance?
Alan Austin | 03 May 2011

Tony Kevin's piece was concise, eloquent and politically astute.

Father Frank Brennan's response was sobering.

Tony has experience in Foreign Affairs and described the difficulty of removing bin Laden alive from Pakistan as 'the Gordian knot'. Yet the same description of complexity and uncertainty could aptly describe the US Judicial system, which remains independent of political control [as is the fundamental intent].

Bin Laden's summary execution remains the lesser of two evils.
Bob GROVES | 03 May 2011

A very good article. As to his death "after" the firefight, White House adviser Brennan says Bin Laden opposed capture. He goes on to say it is understood one of his wives was used as a human shield. Brennan also says they were prepared to take him alive. I don't know what is right here but I don't think you can at this stage conclude he was summarily and cold bloodedly executed.
Bill Frilay | 03 May 2011

Either we oppose the death penalty or we support it. It is a great tragedy to see a human life sullied by hatred and destruction, and now ended coldly.
Peter Dobbie | 03 May 2011

I appreciate the black and white points of view and the nuances.
Joyce | 03 May 2011

I for one would have preferred to see Bin Laden arraigned in a court of law. Extra territorial executions are a bad idea period. Tony's argument slips and slides over the issue of due process and the whole struggle to place limits on the power of the state.
Doug | 03 May 2011

Many words may be written about the demise of Osama Bin Laden. For me, anyone who condones the taking of, or who takes the life of another human being,places him/ herself in the same dubious moral position as any killer. And should not Obama have used the word 'revenge' rather than 'justice?'
Rosemary Bedford | 03 May 2011

The ABC Midday Report showed a reconstruction of the Special Forces raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound. One still photo showed Pres. Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, National Security and Military in the White House Situation Room. They were all glued to screens showing live 'helmetcam' images of the operation including the scene in Osama's bedroom. He and a wife were reportedly discovered there. I wonder if the White House gathered to witness a capture or an execution.
David Timbs | 03 May 2011

Well, we certainly live in the times of the hawks. Summary process, summary execution. I can picture the President and the White House executives doing reality-tv witnessing this macabre execution. That is, in my eyes, real pornography. Not dignified and certainly not noble. If this is the good side that we are supposed to fight for and belong, God help us.
Eveline Goy | 03 May 2011

I too feel uneasy about the execution of bin Laden. Then I remember that every day we passively condone the killing of military personnel on the "other" side. Unless one is a decided Pacifist in every sense of the word one can hardly quibble about the killing of bin Laden. Remember, Bonhoeffer was part of an unsuccessful attempt to eliminate Hitler. If the attempt had been successful would we have had similar angst? I don't know.
Rosemary McCubbin | 03 May 2011

I agree with those comments which question the morality of "executing" Bin Laden without a trial. The ease with which his body was spirited out of Pakistan in total secrecy shows that he could have been brought to true justice by the USA without too much more difficulty. What happened cannot be termed a kind of justice according to law in the sense of that word as we normally use it
Tony Santospirito | 03 May 2011

There is a problem, though, with the rapid manner in which OBL's body was disposed of by being cast into the sea. For it will inevitably give rise to interminable conspiracy theories, such as that that OBL died years ago of kidney failure and that this was all a piece of theatre orchestrated to coincide with and boost the beginning of Pres. Obama's reelection campaign.
Leander Gonzaga | 03 May 2011

Two notes: one, Alan Austin's remark that "It was this evil, greedy, thieving US foreign policy which Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda sought to counter on behalf of its many victims in 2001" is an almighty simple reading of bin Laden's own soaring ambition to lure the entire West to war against Islam; his dream, as he said himself in his many shoddy video productions, was a religious war to destroy the West and Israel.

Second, as far as conspiracy theories about his faked death, I quote a Navy SEAL on the radio here this morning. Q: what would you say to such theorists? A: You're welcome. Many brave men and women fight around the world for your freedom to be a moron.
Brian Doyle | 04 May 2011

Tony This is the " extra-judicial murder of an untried man" from any perspective of justice as it applies in our society !!
Noel Will | 04 May 2011

Whatever we think of Osama Bin Laden, his planned execution was unlawful, immoral and unjust. Can Tony Kevin or those who he compliments for this murder produce any evidence to support their claims about Bin Laden part in 911? Even if Bin Laden was guilty, are we accepting the extrajudicial assassination of anybody responsible for mass killing? For example, should Bush Jr, Howard and Blair be executed by Iraqi special forces for the killing of thousands of innocent Iraqis during their bombing campaign for the non-existent WMDs? Should we also "tick the boxes" for the execution of various Israeli leaders who ordered the killing of thousands of Palestinians? It seems that Tony Kevin and his like have a racially supreme view of justice. We all know that arab violence towards the West is nothing more than defensive reaction to Western violence inflicted in the process of the control and theft of Middle East resources and the support of the regime in Israel. Tony Kevin and his political bosses appear to care little for this central issue and continue to blame the victims.
Jim Dodrill | 04 May 2011

"Some may call this an extra - judicial murder of an untried man.I am not among them" What would you call it,Tony Kevin? elsewhere you stated that "...it was an authorised extra territorial execution" and that "...cutting the Giordian knot (murdering Bin Laden without trial) may be justified" Cutting the Giordian knot is defined as "...an intractable problem solved by a bold stroke" (Wickepedia). Your use of the Giordan knot justification is facile - the intractable problem had already been solved; extra judicial killing is always murder.
f hetherton | 04 May 2011


Since I wrote my Bin Laden piece, more factual details have emerged, e.g., the interview with CIA Chief Leon Panetta. I hesitate to seek another bite at this cherry, especially after powerful counter-points made by some correspondents and in Moira Rayner’s essay. But the death of Bin Laden is an important world event, and maybe more can be added now.

There is nothing easy, predictable or safe about an armed capture-and-kill or hostage extraction mission in hostile foreign territory. Things can go very badly wrong, as in Iran. They can leave mission members dead or captured with the mission objective unachieved. Thus, extreme risk avoidance must govern the rules of engagement: death of the capture or hostage rescue target can be a high-probability outcome, the former especially if mission members’ lives are in peril. These are difficult military-political decisions. I note that a hostage rescue operation was considered in the case of the three Western Khmer Rouge hostages in Cambodia in 1994, but was rejected as too risky to the mission and the hostages.

I do not believe President Obama would have approved a mission intended to kill Osama Bin Laden, though as Panetta makes clear, Obama authorised Bin Laden’s killing if that was necessary for the safety of the mission. Even though Bin Laden was unarmed (and the President never claimed that he was armed or used his wife as a shield – those incorrect reports came from others, and were soon corrected), he or his wife in the room could have had access to a last-resort hidden suicide explosive device or button. In such tense circumstances, and immediately following the fierce gunfight with Bin Laden’s guards on the floor below, it is understandable that any body movement by Bin Laden or his wife could have provoked those final shots that injured her and killed him.

Panetta also noted the legitimate fear that the mission could at any moment have possibly come under attack from behind by pro- Bin Laden armed Pakistani military elements stationed nearby, aroused by the din of battle. They had to get out with Bin Laden dead or alive fast, there was no time for negotiations.

Other criticisms go to propositions that if Bin Laden could not safely be brought out of his Pakistan hideaway to face an impartial and transparent international court where he could testify in his own defence and his innocence or guilt could be properly determined, he should have been left where he was. I don’t think that option was ever realistically open to a US President after 9/11. Obama had to act.

Let’s finally look at the option that Obama could have directed that Bin Laden be brought out alive at all costs to face trial: even at the cost of deaths of some members of the military mission, to make the serious stakes here quite clear.

What could have then been done with him? He could not have been delivered to the ICJ in The Hague (as Milosevic and Karadjic were) because the US is not signatory to that international court. He would have had to be taken to Guantanamo to be tried by the US, because Obama has not yet succeeded in having it closed down and the American public would not have tolerated his being sent anywhere else. The issue of a fair trial for Bin Laden would have immediately become disastrously intermeshed with the whole terrible history of human rights abuses at Guantanamo. Bin Laden would have had time there to re-invent himself in public as a human rights and religious martyr. (I say this as a person on record as a vigorous defender of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib against their cruel abuse under the Guantanamo system that Obama has reluctantly inherited from Bush).

A long imprisonment and trial process would have provoked dangerous upsurges of violent militancy or terrorism in countries like Pakistan (where I think the present wave of grief and anger will pass more quickly) that could have led to the loss of many lives.

For all such reasons, in the imperfect real political world in which we live, I believe that the pure arguments of indivisibility of justice and precedent which I have supported many times, eg in my SIEV X book and in my writings on the invasion of Iraq and human rights abuses consequent on that invasion, must on this occasion give way to arguments of the lesser evil.

It is a judgement call. I think Obama made the right call here, and can properly be supported by people of moral conscience and good will. But I don’t come lightly to this, and I respect those who take a different view from mine. It’s an appropriate discussion for readers of Eureka Street to have.

No one mentioned this – but I remark on the contrast with Blessed Pope John Paul II receiving and forgiving a repentant Agha, the man who had tried to murder him. He thereby set an unforgettable example of Christian forgiveness of one’s enemies. But Bin Laden never expressed repentance for 9/11, and it would never have been open to a US President – the representative secular defender of his citizens’ lives and liberty - to forgive him for 9/11.
Tony Kevin | 05 May 2011

Watching the assassination unfold on TV....carrying it out in another sovereign country..... shooting an unarmed man in the head....an eye for an eye....I don't know
Very disturbed | 05 May 2011

And so when Iraqis invade the US, England and Australia and gun down unarmed former leaders you will be fine will you Tony?

Thought not.
Marilyn Shepherd | 05 May 2011

I am glad I did not have to issue the orders for this mission. Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't ... I believe morality lies in Moira's piece, but leadership reality, and responsibility, tips me towards Tony's position. The issues Tony raises about Guantanamo, military justice, and world reaction to his capture are valid, but unconvincing. A greater concern is the prospect of Westerners, especially Americans, being held, and likely killed, as reprisals/hostages for OBL release. What would Australians say about one (or even many) of our own in that situation? How many dead hostages is (suspect) justice worth? How many dead Australian hostages is (suspect) American justice? The hubristic scenes of rejoicing are unfortunate and distasteful. However, in their defence the impact of Sept 11 on the US psyche probably means that many were always going to respond this way.
EdC | 06 May 2011

I don't remember a tablet of commandments that said :"Thou shalt not kill" (unless you can tick all the boxes, of course)..... Tony's piece might be intelligent and well-constructed, but even intelligent arguments can be wrong. Hence the simplicity of those ten (count them- ten) commandments... Revenge is not justice.
Monica Brian | 06 May 2011

"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Mohandas Gandhi Nothing has been gained - much more has been lost.
Charlie Meagher | 06 May 2011

There is no such thing as 'a lesser evil'. That is how politicians 'talk'. In formation from known liars, remember the 'smoking gun' episodes?
russell | 06 May 2011

What about Matthew 5:43-47?? What about how Jesus lived out the Sermon on the Mount with His act of leaving things in the hands of His Father on Good Friday?? I think we are slipping into relativism without meditating on what Jesus said and did. Please read Fr John Dear SJ at http://ncronline.org/blogs/road-peace/revenge-not-way A quote from Martin Luther King: "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
Bernadette | 06 May 2011

And if what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander? http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/will-bin-laden-killing-pave-way-for-similar-moves-by-israel-1.359736
Jill Kitson | 06 May 2011

Thank you for your update, Tony Kevin. You have given detail of the US system of justice while I only made only allusions to the complexity of the Beast. Perhaps the only way this 'lesser evil' could have been averted is by Obama making the US a signatory to the International Court of Justice and delivering Bin Laden to the ICJ in The Hague. After that, he could have washed his hands and said "Let Justice be done!".
Bob GROVES | 06 May 2011

Imagine this: Four pakistani helicopters swoop into the US. Commandos on board shoot and kill several (mainly unarmed) citizens, murder an untried alleged criminal, extract the body and dispose of it, blow up a crashed helicopter, and leave it behind. Several murders are watched live by the Pakistani government. Then the Pakistanis release several official versions of the events. Then the pakistanis start blaming the US for harbouring these murdered citizens. It's a pretty far fetched story, yes?
mike D | 06 May 2011

Despite the update, Tony, we must agree to disagree. The only sad thing about this state of affairs is that the so-called doves are forced to live in the world of the hawks. No-one can un-pull the trigger. This might be why so many people are depressed, feeling disempowered about the 'real-politik' world we are living in. When all the haters have annihilated the lovers, the world will be a perfect place, a place without conflict.
Eveline Goy | 07 May 2011


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