Thursday, May 05, 2011


Bin Laden Came to Timely End

Killer of Thousands Is Executed

By U.S., Home of Many Victims

Not to write about Osama bin Laden this week would be to ignore an event of historic importance.

He is directly responsible for the death of almost three thousand New Yorkers, a figure surpassed most notably by Hitler, who is primarily accountable for the tragedy of World War II. Mao Tse-Tung, Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Hafez al-Assad, and various African genocidal tyrants were also mass murderers, but usually employed more primitive means than the Nazi fuhrer and the Wahhabi devotee.

Bin Laden was terminated with extreme prejudice by well-trained Americans who, we presume, followed the instructions they were given. The thought that he should have been taken alive is naive. Who would try him? On what authority? How would a sentence be carried out? How much attention would he get for years while the legal system took its protracted course? What would the International Court of Justice opine on the matter? And what consideration did the thousands of innocent civilians receive before he sent the hijacked airliners to crash into their offices?

It was clearly in the national interest to dispose of the matter on the spot, and the result was presumably dictated by the elected official who is commander-in-chief. There is a certain irony in a Nobel Peace Prize recipient personally involved in the murder of an unarmed captive, whether in the presence of his daughter or not. But think of how many lives would have been saved if Bin Laden had been stopped ten years ago, before 9-11, when President Clinton authorized the removal of Bin Laden from the planet after the bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole on October 12, 2000 (perhaps a jab at Columbus Day). Clinton later said that his order was never carried out because the United States was unable to establish a military presence in Uzbekistan and because American intelligence and law enforcement agencies refused to confirm that bin Laden had authorized the bombing.

On the photo issue, I completely agree with the President. As he said, we do not spike the football after a touchdown, nor should we create an iconic image for Bin Laden's followers to venerate. The conspiracy theorists will never be satisfied, nor need they be, for the further they depart from reality, the less credible they become.

Burial at sea was also entirely appropriate. No remains, no relics, no tomb, no shrine. Life began in the sea, and it is not the worst place to decompose. As the fate of Luca Brasi, who killed far fewer people than Osama bin Laden, was poetically described by his colleagues, "He sleeps with the fishes." Besides, if he is going to meet the 72 virgins who Muslim theologians say await him in paradise, the North Arabian Sea will simply be a stop on his journey.

"With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds" begins the last paragraph of Ted Sorensen's elegant inaugural address for John F. Kennedy. We cannot speak to bin Laden's conscience, or whether he has one, but we strongly believe history will judge him harshly, as a killer of innocents, not as a builder.

Osama bin Laden did not liberate anyone from tyranny. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan was harsh and oppressive, a medieval theocracy brutal to its own people. We predict that Bin Laden will be regarded over the years primarily as a mass murderer, who employed the ingenious method of hijacking jet planes whose tanks were filled with gasoline. He caused the death of thousands of innocents as part of a deluded conspiracy to re-establish the Caliphate and rule the world. The lesson of his life is how much harm one individual can do using modern technology.

Three years before 9-11, the bombing of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on August 7, 1998, with simultaneous explosions injuring thousands of people, primarily Africans, should have alerted the world to the menace of Bin Laden. In the two bombings 223 people were killed. Ironically, only twelve were Americans.

His battle with the world may come in part from sibling rivalry, he was the 17th of 54 progeny of his father, and if Mohammed bin Laden had not been killed in a plane crash in 1967, when Osama was 10 years old, there would have been more. The plane, a company-owned Beechcraft, was piloted by an American who misjudged the landing.

Osama's mother was reportedly looked down upon by her husband's 21 other wives (but no more than four at a time, pursuant to religious law.) She was of Syrian birth, while the other wives were Saudi Arabian. Who knows what effect his father's death or his mother's isolation had on Osama's personality, particularly his lack of regard for the lives of others?

It was also interesting to learn that, rather than wandering in the wilderness as Moses did, or moving at night from cave to cave to avoid detection, as many imagined, Osama was residing in comfort in a military town not far from Islamabad, with goats brought regularly for him and his entourage to consume.

Much more will be written about Bin Laden and his remarkable career. But if he had to bedescribed in one word on his non-existent tombstone, we suggest that "murderer" rather than "martyr" would be an appropriate appellation.

The world is better off without this sociopath, but much more must be done to assure that other mass killers, with even more powerful weapons, are not enabled through the apathy or ignorance of free countries, to pursue their destructive course. It has always been easier to destroy than to build, and as the years pass, weapons of mass destruction will be more dispersed. The combination of religious fanaticism and the capacity to destroy civilization present our planet with its greatest challenge since the extinction of our ancestors, the dinosaurs, sixty-five million years ago.

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