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Killing Osama

May 3, 2011

Last night, I was on CCTV News’ Dialogue with host Yang Rui, talking about the successful U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden.  My fellow guest was Francesco Sisci, Asia Editor of the Italian newspaper La Stampa.  You can watch the video here.

My lead observation:  “I think it sends a very important message:  never underestimate America’s resolve when attacked.  It’s been 10 years — almost 10 years — but President Obama deserves a lot of credit for seeing this through, and the people in America’s armed forces deserve a lot of credit for the resolve and perseverance they’ve shown in tracking down the perpetrator of 9/11.”

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Haris permalink
    May 4, 2011 8:11 am

    Even though this is excellent news for us, if I would call it anything, I’d say its good riddance. Pakistan has lost 10 times as many innocent lives during the war on terror as compared to the United States, so if anyone would hate them it would be us.
    Having said that, as the news came in with the details of the operation, the dots started to disconnect!
    Considering the location and timing of the attack [that had been planned for 10 months], the role of Pakistan’s military and Intelligence [during the life time of the whole operation considering the military has been a prime target of all bombings and terror attacks and have entrenched hatred for the Taliban].
    The execution of the operation including a downed helicopter which has been totally ignored, the oblivion of the neighborhood to the existence of a mansion 6-10 times the size of normal houses around was one thing, but to the operation was kind of hard to believe. Abbotabad is a small town, people generally live in close proximity to each other and know one another.
    There is no doubt that the US Forces are far more advanced and better equipped but it is only fair to consider that it is impossible that Pakistani forces would not know if there was an un-identified helicopter in its airspace, that too close to the capital and their version of West-point!

    Just a thought! Well if it is true, because if it is, it gives a meaning to the sacrifices that have been made by all the men, women and children who have lost their lives be it Pakistani’s, Americans or any other nationalities! well done US of A!

  2. Haris permalink
    May 4, 2011 8:14 am

    Even though this is excellent news for us, if I would call it anything, I’d say its good riddance. Pakistan has lost 10 times as many innocent lives during the war on terror as compared to the United States, so if anyone would hate them it would be us.
    Having said that, as the news came in with the details of the operation, the dots started to disconnect!
    Considering the location and timing of the attack [that had been planned for 10 months], the role of Pakistan’s military and Intelligence [during the life time of the whole operation considering the military has been a prime target of all bombings and terror attacks and have entrenched hatred for the Taliban].
    The execution of the operation including a downed helicopter which has been totally ignored, the oblivion of the neighborhood to the existence of a mansion 6-10 times the size of normal houses around was one thing, but to the operation was kind of hard to believe. Abbotabad is a small town, people generally live in close proximity to each other and know one another.
    There is no doubt that the US Forces are far more advanced and better equipped but it is only fair to consider that it is impossible that Pakistani forces would not know if there was an un-identified helicopter in its airspace, that too close to the capital and their version of West-point!
    Just a thought! Well if it is true, because it gives a meaning to the sacrifices made by thousands of men, women and children, be it Pakistani’s, Americans or any other nationalities! Well-done US of A!

  3. Hua Qiao permalink
    May 4, 2011 11:09 am

    Haris, I wondered the same thing as you about the helicopters. Hardly a stealth tactic. But apparently, helicopter traffic is quite common in this area due to the military university’s proximity.

    Can’t wait to see all the follow up from the loads of hard drives, dvds, cell phones, etc that were harvested. This intelligence may be more important than taking out Bin Laden if it can be used to hunt down the other cockroaches.

    • Haris permalink
      May 4, 2011 2:23 pm

      Well, I can’t say there is a lot of air traffic there!

      But one thing that I am pondering upon is the fate of Pakistan! As it is obvious – the locals would have not known, if they would – who doesn’t want a hold of that bounty?

      So, Either no one knew – In that case, shame on the Pakistani intelligence and military, for it starves the economy! it consumes more than 2/3rd of the GDP!

      On the flip-side, if we consider that they knew (which maybe also be equally likely).. then its obvious that the so called defenders of the nation worked to destroy it! and deserve the same fate as Osama B L. They are responsible for all the lives lost during this war and the political and economic crisis Pakistan faces at the moment!

      It is kind of confusing though, that at one hand, military officers, their establishments, residences even their families have been a target of terrorism. On the other, it would become hard to believe that they would support them.

  4. May 4, 2011 5:02 pm

    *shakes head*…

    Nice of you to give Obama a bit of credit for getting the job done….

    • prchovanec permalink*
      May 4, 2011 5:15 pm

      I give Obama due credit for tracking down and getting Bin Laden, but nor do I have any disagreement with what Bush said in that clip. The most important mission, at that time, had to be rendering al-Qaeda inoperable, or at least disrupting their capability to conduct high-impact attacks like 9/11. In comparison, bringing specific individuals to justice was an important but secondary concern. And if they didn’t have any idea where he was at that point, it would hardly have made sense to emphasize a goal you’re unsure you can achieve, in contrast to the other, more important ones you can.

  5. May 6, 2011 11:39 pm

    I am dismayed by the words “successful killing”. What would an “unsuccessful killing” look like? And would it matter if “murder” were used in place of “killing”? Isn’t “successful killing” how bin Laden described people dying in the twin towers? When we use language that bin Laden would use, in what way do we become better people?

    Following are excerpts from an opinion piece that appeared in a city newspaper today:

    By “treating him as he treated his victims, we simply go down and join him in the pit of immorality. We become the monster we hunt . . .”

    “This way of ordering the world into worthy and unworthy victims, people to be mourned and people to be erased, is what keeps the cycle of violence ever turning . . .”

    “It’s a pity that this event will do nothing to end the sheer stupidity and shameful waste of ten years of war and violence.”

    I hope you will consider reading the article (www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article1994136.ece) in full and reflect on it. Not now, but when the celebrations are done with.

    • prchovanec permalink*
      May 7, 2011 11:27 am

      I hear what you are saying, but in this instance I neither apologize for nor retract my use of the word “successful.” The United States has been forthright in its intent to kill Osama bin Laden for nearly 10 years. 90% of Americans, if not more, supported this goal and in fact clamored for its achievement. In this sense, the killing of Bin Laden was indeed a “success.”

      If you watch my TV appearance, I think you will find no sign of me reveling in or gloating over another person’s death. I believe that God loves every person, including people who have done great evil and injury to others, and that their lives and deaths are therefore a particular tragedy. But I feel no discomfort in making the kind of moral distinction that you find troublesome. In fact, not only are such distinctions (between good and bad, just and unjust) essential to make in our lives, they are unavoidable: choosing not to make or recognize a moral distinction is, in effect, to make a moral choice.

      I don’t have the right to judge Bin Laden’s soul, in an ultimate sense, nor do I want to, but I do have the obligation to act, as Abraham Lincoln put it, “with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right.” Perhaps Osama bin Laden thought that he was doing that too, but I’m willing to stake my soul that he was wrong. Because if I don’t, I’m staking it anyway on the proposition that it doesn’t matter.

      • June 5, 2011 3:39 pm

        And you know what? After 9/11 everyone supported Bush’s efforts, and everyone wanted to see this happen, not just Americans, of course, but other countries as well. There was a period of about 18 months, where.. we were all Americans. We were all on your side. There was a time when America had the compassion and sympathy of the entire world.. and George Bush seemed to flush it all down the drain. So much so, that by the time his work was done, Barack Obama got into office purely because he was everything that Bush was not.

        Certainly you can’t fault Bush for failing to get Bin Laden.. I’m sure they were trying very very hard (that’s why the clip above is so sad), I guess it was the way they conducted themselves that seemed so unAmerican, to make a mockery of the constitution, etc. Now look at the Republican party… trying to deny 9/11 rescue workers medical assistance, etc? What on earth is going on with these guys?

  6. Tim Teng permalink
    May 7, 2011 2:31 am

    Professor,

    I betcha you check your spelling couple times before you hit the ‘send’ button, right?

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