Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Sin Bin

Whilst not the most vocal human rightsist, and certainly no defender of the abhorrent Bin Laden (and not even against the death penalty where it can be proven beyond all doubt that the guilty party is guilty), I still found myself more shocked than I expected by the absence of due legal process in the dispatch of Bin Laden, and it has more or less now been admitted that it was a planned assassination rather than a response to the armed siege first reported. Nor have photographs or film footage been forthcoming.

Perhaps my queasiness lies in the fact that even Hitler would have received a trial as a war criminal had he not chosen to die by his own hand sixty six years ago. Has the Western World really regressed in its observance of civilised conduct since the Nuremberg trials, widely recognised at the time as a real advance for humanity and one of the positive outcomes of six years of horror?

As for making Bin Laden a martyr, there would have been no foolproof means of preventing this nor preventing the risk of violent retribution by what remains of his followers (vastly decimated in recent years by all accounts), whether he was dispatched by cold-blooded assassination or execution following a trial, or even lifelong imprisonment following a trial.

Granted such a trial would have been inconvenient, long-winded and ruinously expensive, but is that any reason to drive a coach and horses through the Geneva Convention and the ideals previous generations strove to leave as their legacy for a better and more civilised world?
Nor were the indecent levels of Western glee about this incident or the strange idea that burying Bin Laden at sea somehow conformed to Muslim burial law likely to appease his remaining followers.

I don't deny that it's a relief this undoubtedly evil man is no longer walking the earth and breathing the same air as me. I just think the Western World could have covered itself in more glory in its conduct and observance of due legal process in its dispatch of him. How else do we hope to set an example to the rest of the world that we in the West really do have the best ideals, the superior justice and the moral high ground generally over non-democracies?

Or perhaps the hope was that this would swiftly become yesterday's news and who cares about legacy and reputation in a fast moving Twitterati world anyway? But actions still have consequences whatever media fashion would have us believe.

10 comments:

Steve said...

The whole sorry episode is one of tarnish and staining. The people of the future will not look back at our time and consider us at all civilized or advanced. The West's conduct in this has been reprehensible. We have covered what little moral high ground we owned with our own faeces.

Wisewebwoman said...

We are all covered in shame, Laura, i wrote about it myself. Barbaric and unseemly and with a complete disregard for the due process of law. this man always denied he had anything to do with 9/11.
I am deeply suspicious of the whole sorry murder and disturbed that so many innocent millions of Iraqis and Afghanis have also been "collateraly damaged" along with the trillions of dollars in war costs.
XO
WWW

Nota Bene said...

mmm. I'm less certain. Effectively we are at war with Al Qaeida, and in a war situation, unpalatable things happen. So removing the leader was part of a war. Unfortunately, having to follows the rule of law is what has given terrorists the oxygen they need to operate. It's strange as I don't normally think this way...so may be it's because of him being such a destructive force that has changed the world in so many bad ways...

broken biro said...

The part that creeps me out is the chanting and cheering in the US. Someone described last weekend as 'a Disney weekend' where the plucky heroine marries the prince and the US helicopters swoop in and get the bad guy - I think a lot of people are largely subscribing to the unexamined principles of thrillers and computer games.
The whole thing smacks of 'the man who knew too much' - with his links to Bush, his clear protection from Pakistan etc I wonder if he may have made rather too embarrassing a witness at a trial?

Owen said...

For how many years was he funded and armed by the CIA in Afghanistan back when he was fighting the Russians ? Just another very obscure chapter in American history.

Martin Lower said...

I heard on the news here (UK), that Sarah Palin wants the photos of his body published as a warning to America's enemies. Presumably, she would stop short of displaying his head on a pole....

David said...

Even in a war assassination is, I think, illegal. And if somebody tries to surrender they should be captured, not killed. I know that in the heat of the moment that doesn't always happen, but a deliberate order to kill, not capture, is rather different. If that is what happened I think it is shameful, and I can't see it being legal.

Rog said...

Just a thought:

http://www.justgiving.com/kazblog

Thanks!

Rog

urko said...

I agree we can't tell people killing is wrong then do it anyway. The rednecks here and in the USA cheering and jeering are no better than those in various places dancing about after 9/11. But - there's a conundrum. Here is a man who worships death as we worship life - so is killing him doing any good?

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Some really interesting points folks, thanks. Notabene, not sure that anything goes just because of a war situation (besides which, are we at war with Pakistan?)

Roger, all the best of luck with your ride!