I wrote a few weeks ago that the death penalty should be kept as an option, but used very rarely – when it seemed to be the only way to protect society from a vicious and dangerous criminal.
Osama bin Laden fitted that category.
The operation that lead to his death was carefully planned and carried out. Those involved in both planning and operations deserve congratulations.
Two quotes from George Bush seem appropriate:
“When I take action, I’m not going to fire a 2 million dollar missile at a 10 dollar empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”
“Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.”
In the end, it was on Barack Obama’s watch that the time came when it was possible to take that decisive action. Justice has been done.
But the search for Osama bin Laden was not the prosecution of a criminal offence. It was a response to an act of war, a war declared and ongoing.
No one can doubt bin Laden’s intention and plans for his minions to carry out further attacks on the West.
If you start a war, you should be prepared for the people you have attacked to respond. You can’t destroy buildings and murder thousands of people and then cry ‘no fair’ when the country you have attacked decides the world would be a safer place without you.
The US responded to these threats in what seem to me to be the most fair and responsible manner imaginable.
It removed the person making them.
Al Qaeda is a many headed monster, but some heads are more equal than others, and the head removed was the most equal of all.
The attack on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan was a military victory. It deserves to be celebrated, for the courage of those who participated, and for the outcome.
A message has been sent: If you murder our citizens, if you attack our people, we will find you, and there will be nothing inspiring or noble about your end, which be like the end of a vicious, worm infested dog whose body is thrown by the side of the road to rot.
Also, Pakistan is not our friend.
There are three possibilities.
1. Pakistan’s security forces had no idea bin Laden was living in their neighbourhood. In that case they are mind bogglingly incompetent and should not be trusted with a plastic bow and arrow, let alone nuclear weapons.
2. Some members of Pakistan’s security forces knew bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, but they protected him rather than tell Pakistan’s political leaders. In that case, Pakistan is in deeper trouble than we thought. It is unstable and should not be trusted with a plastic bow and arrow, let alone nuclear weapons.
3. Pakistan’s poltical leaders knew, but protected him rather than tell their allies. In that case, Pakistan is in deeper trouble than we thought. It may not be unstable, but it is definitely not our friend. It already has nuclear weapons, which it has developed rather than spend money on vital infrastructure.
Instead, the West has paid for much of its infrastructure with massive doses of aid.
Pakistan needs to demonstrate some trustworthiness, and a commitment to the welfare of its own people, including its non-muslim minorities.
Until it does, that aid should stop.