Osama: The Questions Remain- Despite Cheryl Cole

Richard Lutz returns to a subject that our readers can’t ignore

Enough of the big breaking story that will change the world. I mean, of course, our Cheryl being sacked from the American version of X Factor because her Geordie accent is ununderstandable to Yank ears.

Let’s move instead  to the Butcher of Bosnia Ratko Mladic being arrested. The fact that he’s been taken from his home and slammed in front of a Serbian judge is in stark contrast to the killing of Osama bin Laden earlier this month.

And to that I return.

Earlier this month I wrote a piece on this site questioning the issue of Justice and the killing of bin Laden in his Pakistani hideaway. He was unarmed at the time.

It was not to question his ultimate guilt as a mass murderer but whether we – the west – had demeaned ourselves by not carrying out a criminal investigation and  consequent trial. And, importantly,  not being seen to do these things.

The response has been wide and varied from readers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Jim, a lawyer from Maine in America says the killing was probably legal but adds: ‘…we (at least in the States) have turned it all over to the military for a long time, and to the war metaphor: If you are not one of us, we can kill you, because you are bad. We are good, you are not. We are protecting ourselves against evil. We did not start this. You must do as we wish. Very scary, very bad. ‘

Paul from Birmingham is pretty sure where he stands: ‘ If we kill Osama bin laden, who is next? Can we kill all murder suspects or mass murder suspects? Can we kill rape suspects? Or, going to extremes, can we knock off muggers, stalkers or house burglars? When is it right to ignore law? Where is the line drawn?’

Rick from New York has a telling response from someone who was in Manhattan on 9/11: ‘ I was in NY that day and saw the second plane hit and the towers come down with people I knew in them. I felt then and since that he attacked me and my family and my city and my livelihood. So, I’m glad he’s dead. He got what he deserved. I agree that our response to 9/11 and Osama diminished our society over the last ten years. But I don’t think killing him changed that much one way or another.

Laurel from Arizona responds: ‘I guess I feel New Yorkers have more of a right to give the ok. Oddly it seemed his significance to a lot of the rest of the world had really dropped. I hope it means we can get the heck out of Afghanistan that much quicker.’

Mark from Edinburgh asks: ‘ If it is alright to ‘do’ a suspect, is it also alright to bring back state-condoned murder? Somehow, we seem to be moving towards the fundamentalist policies of the Shia world. And how is the choice made?’

And Nigel from Newcastle on Tyne adds: ‘My initial response was one of relief that Bin Laden had been taken out but on sober reflection and a fuller understanding of the circumstances I am concerned we have fallen into his trap and provided him with the martyrdom he craved. His aim was always to provoke and goad the West into a reaction to garner support in the Arab World for his world view, and in the former he has succeeded. However in the latter he failed ,as recent events have demonstrated he misunderstood the true aspirations of the people of the Middle East to escape the oppressive regimes.’

Bill from California says: ‘I agree both with Rick and Nigel. First Nigel: ‘Bin Laden did in fact declare war and then went into hiding after targeting and killing civilians. That does make him a legit target from the get go. On the emotional side, his death allows many perhaps to find closure, perhaps some psychic relief, and a sense that we are not powerless. He, like other megalomaniacs before him act out of hate and hate is an expression of deep, deep pain. I hope that the end of the Bin Laden legacy for us all is to go deeper and try to live our lives from a place of deeper love for ourselves and all life.’

So, as we digest Mladic’s criminal past and Cheryl’s US demise, let’s keep the debate alive over Osama’s death.  It raised vital questions not only about worldwide terror but also how we combat it as moral participants.