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What precedent does Bin Laden's killing set?

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:01 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
I guess that at its core, my problem is with your premise that right makes right in international law.

Well, I'm not saying that's a good thing. That's just the way things are -- and always have been.
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:07 am
@joefromchicago,
Fair enough. So things are bad, and have always been bad. Deal?
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:14 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

When president Obama announced on Sunday that the Navy Seals had killed Bin Laden, I was relieved and happy just like everybody else. Meanwhile, however, my feelings are increasingly stained by disgust. Consider the rhetorical hedging in Obama's announcement: "After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body." After a firefight, not in a firefight? So the firefight was over when the Seals killed Bin Laden. They could have taken him alive, but evidently didn't care to. That's not "bringing Bin Laden to justice", as official terminology has it. This was a lynching.

Now, maybe lynching isn't always wrong. Maybe it was justified in this case. But what I'm worried about isn't this case, it's the precedent the killing sets. For example, let's say there's a Chinese guy living in San Francisco whom the Chinese government doesn't like. So the Chinese fly into San Francisco with a swarm of helicopters, have a unit of their special forces raid the guy's Chinatown condo, and kill the him "after a firefight". As an American, would you be okay with that? And if not, why is it more okay if the US does the same thing in Pakistan? How does Sunday's raid not set a terrible precedent for future international affairs?


I don't think it's directly comparable, capturing a diabolical and long-missing terrorist, with 'a guy the Chinese government doesn't like.' OBL had no presumed innocence whatsoever, because we a) had overwhelming evidence that he was guilty, and b) he repeatedly and in detail claimed responsibility for the actions that led to his demise.

A major difference here also is that, should such a guy exist - who had caused major terror events in China and admitted it, celebrated it even - the US wouldn't have to rely upon Chinese helicopters to get the guy because we would do it ourselves if they asked. The only reason we took unilateral action in Pakistan is that they refused to do so, being somewhat corrupted by forces that support OBL. Given that, if America refused to cooperate with China in capturing an infamous and clearly guilty terrorist, I wouldn't give two shits if they came in and got the guy themselves - it would be the appropriate thing for them to do.

It is a good question for conversation, tho.

Cycloptichorn
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:22 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
A major difference here also is that, should such a guy exist - who had caused major terror events in China and admitted it, celebrated it even - the US wouldn't have to rely upon Chinese helicopters to get the guy because we would do it ourselves if they asked.

I'm sure the Pakistani government is quite happy to prosecute terrorists. Maybe it just prefers not to call Bin Laden a terrorist---just as the US government doesn't use the word "terrorist" for the assorted "freedom fighters" it supports abroad. Governments are morally flexible about their usage of the word "terrorist", and the US government is no exception.

Cycloptichorn wrote:
The only reason we took unilateral action in Pakistan is that they refused to do so, being somewhat corrupted by forces that support OBL.

... whereas the US government takes no action against people whom the Chinese government calls terrorists because they fight for a free Tibetian state---America being somewhat corrupted by the forces that support a free Tibet.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:30 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Cycloptichorn wrote:
A major difference here also is that, should such a guy exist - who had caused major terror events in China and admitted it, celebrated it even - the US wouldn't have to rely upon Chinese helicopters to get the guy because we would do it ourselves if they asked.

I'm sure the Pakistani government is quite happy to prosecute terrorists. Maybe it just prefers not to call Bin Laden a terrorist---just as the US government doesn't use the word "terrorist" for the assorted "freedom fighters" it supports abroad. Governments are morally flexible about their usage of the word "terrorist", and the US government is no exception.


We're not relying upon their interpretation; the guy admitted, repeatedly, to masterminding plots that killed thousands of people and directly lead to wars that caused the deaths of many, many more. I think you are making a false comparison here.

Quote:
Cycloptichorn wrote:
The only reason we took unilateral action in Pakistan is that they refused to do so, being somewhat corrupted by forces that support OBL.

... whereas the US government takes no action against people whom the Chinese government calls terrorists because they fight for a free Tibetian state---America being somewhat corrupted by the forces that support a free Tibet.


I doubt that we would hide or support anyone who admitted to being a mass murderer, whether we supported their cause or not. And - as I said above - if we were refusing to turn over admitted and unrepentant mass murderers, the Chinese would be justified in getting them on their own.

This isn't really a game of semantics, yaknow. When people freely admit to being mass murderers, they forfeit the presumed innocence that is afforded to others in society. And they forfeit expectations that they will be protected in any way by their physical location.

I think that the killing of Bin Laden sets, in fact, an excellent precedent; that nowhere is safe for those who practice terror openly, who plot how to kill others. Even if you find a shitty regime to try and protect you, we will get you anyway. And if America becomes that shitty regime, it wouldn't hurt me to see other countries treat us similarly.

Cycloptichorn
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:36 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
it would be the appropriate thing for them to do.


I agree with you. Also, I don't believe that the president, by using the word 'after', meant to imply that bin Laden was killed while sleeping.

Quote:
"After bursts of fire over 40 minutes, 22 people were killed or captured. One of the dead was Osama bin Laden, done in by a double tap -- boom, boom -- to the left side of his face."


Sounds more like the Seals were fired upon when they entered the room and bin Laden was killed when they returned fire.
Thomas
 
  5  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:38 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
I doubt that we would hide or support anyone who admitted to being a mass murderer, whether we supported their cause or not.

That's because if you wouldn't call him a murderer if his killings serve US interests. For example, the US was quite happy to harbor Nazis as long as they made good rockets for them.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:43 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Cycloptichorn wrote:
I doubt that we would hide or support anyone who admitted to being a mass murderer, whether we supported their cause or not.

That's because if you wouldn't call him a murderer if his killings serve US interest. For example, the US was quite happy to harbor Nazis as long as they made good rockets for them.


Yet another false comparison. Von Braun was a scientist who designed weapons of war, not a terrorist who plotted to kill people, created a network of people to accomplish this, and then publicly claimed responsibility for the successful operation, all while thumbing his nose at the rest of the world and going into hiding.

You won't get agreement out of me by, in JTT-ish fashion, pointing out that the US has a checkered past. I don't disagree with you that not every action we have taken has been the morally correct one. However, I pointed out above, that I feel that - given the ACTUAL scenario we are discussing, and not a marginally similar one - I felt that the gov't in question would be justified in carrying out their actions on US soil, if we refused to do so.

Cycloptichorn
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:44 am
@Irishk,
They clarified that he was unarmed when he was shot.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:45 am
@Irishk,
Irishk wrote:
Sounds more like the Seals were fired upon when they entered the room and bin Laden was killed when they returned fire.

... whereas Americans neither would, nor should, shoot at foreign soldiers invading their homes. Try telling that to the NRA!
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:45 am
@Thomas,
Its not a precedent. The Israelis did much the same when Mossad agents attacked and kidnapped Adolph Eichmann from Argentinian soil in 1960.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  6  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:49 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
Yet another false comparison. Von Braun was a scientist who designed weapons of war,

He didn't just design them, he built them using slave labor from concentration camps, many of whose inmate died from overwork and malnutrition. Von Braun may well have killed more innocent people than bin Laden. He certainly killed more than Timothy McVeigh, who is undoubtedly a terrorist.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:50 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

They clarified that he was unarmed when he was shot.

Thanks! Can you give me a source? I have a feeling I might need it in the future.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:52 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
However, during a background, off-camera briefing for television reporters later Monday, a senior White House official said bin Laden was not armed when he was killed, apparently by the U.S. raid team.

Another White House official familiar with the TV briefing confirmed the change to POLITICO, adding, “I’m not aware of him having a weapon.”

“The bottom line is the team that entered that room was met with resistance and took appropriate action,” said a third American official.


http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54162.html#ixzz1LJEDN5rl
Cycloptichorn
 
  -2  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:53 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Cycloptichorn wrote:
Yet another false comparison. Von Braun was a scientist who designed weapons of war,

He didn't just design them, he built them using slave labor from concentration camps, many of whose inmate died from overwork and malnutrition. Von Braun may well have killed more innocent people than bin Laden. He certainly killed more than Timothy McVeigh, who is undoubtedly a terrorist.


It's simply erroneous to compare a cog in a military machine, to the leader of a terrorist group. Apples and oranges. It would be like saying that Richard J. Gatling is one of the greatest mass murders of all time; clearly false.

But you knew that before you wrote this, and are now just kind of trying to push your point.

Cycloptichorn
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:56 am
Leaving aside the question of right and wrong, for the moment, and addressing the question of precedent--i don't think this does set a precedent. The Romans wanted Hannibal, and they hunted him to his death, to the extent that he fled across the "world" of his day and finally took poison to spare his host in the place of his final refuge from the reprisal of the Romans.

The Great Northern War, 1699-1721, in which Sweden faced off against Russia, Denmark, Saxony/Poland (a little complex there, and i won't muddy the discussion with that), was alleged by Charles XII of Sweden to have been instigated by Johann Patkul. Dispensing quickly with Denmark, Charles then routed the Russians from the siege of Narva, before turning his attentions on August the Strong, the hereditary and electoral Duke of Saxony, who was also the elected King of Poland. Patkul was arrested in 1705 by Saxon officials on another pretext, but Charles would not negotiate with Augustus until he first secured a promise that Patkul would be handed over. He was handed over, and Charles had him executed immediately. (Some historians have argued that in fact Charles lost the war because he spent six years hunting Augustus through Poland and Saxony to get at Patkul. I don't disagree that he did that, but i do doubt that he could have defeated Russia with Peter the Great in control, even if he had made that his immediate object after running off the Russians at Narva.)

In more recent times, there was the "assassination" of Reinhard Heydich, the notoriously brutal Nazi. His two would-be assassins were trained in England by the SOE, and dropped into Czechoslovakia by the RAF. They did not succeed in killing him outright, but he died of the effect of the injuries he received within a week. Joe has already pointed out that, acting on intercepts from the Imperial Navy (the U.S. had broken the basic code pattern even before the war), the U. S. Army Air Force hunted down Yamamoto's plane and shot it down. In even more recent times, England's SAS has hunted down and hilled alleged high-ranking members of the IRA.

So, no, it is not setting a precedent--the precedent goes back almost into the mists of time. Whether or not it is right or wrong is a subject about which i am ambivalent. In another thread on the killing of bin Laden, i pointed out the targeted killing of Yamamoto, said that bin Laden and Al Qaeda had made war on the United States for years even before September 11th, and that it is legitimate to kill your enemy's leadership in time of war. Whether or not legitimate is the same as "right," i cannot say, nor am much interested in. I also pointed out in that thread what Sofia has said here about a bully pulpit, and then said that i see hypocrisy in trying someone in a trial the verdict of which is a foregone conclusion. I suggest that such a trial is to put a legalistic fig leaf on the killing of someone who is doomed from the moment he falls into the hands of his enemies. Such a trial is to salve the moral principles of those who do the killing.
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 10:59 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
They clarified that he was unarmed when he was shot.

Brennan said he was armed. Some 'anonymous' sources have said he wasn't. I don't think we'll know for sure until the Seals involved have been debriefed, and even then, they might not be willing to make the findings public.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 11:13 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Cycloptichorn wrote:
I doubt that we would hide or support anyone who admitted to being a mass murderer, whether we supported their cause or not.

That's because if you wouldn't call him a murderer if his killings serve US interests. For example, the US was quite happy to harbor Nazis as long as they made good rockets for them.

I key event in leading up to the taking of the US Embassy in Iran was Carter welcoming the Shah to the US.
0 Replies
 
RABEL222
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 11:23 am
@Irishk,
Interesting, but i cant feel sorrow for his death, but government killing without a trail does bother me.
0 Replies
 
H2O MAN
 
  -2  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2011 11:47 am
Quote:
What precedent does Bin Laden's killing set?


For one thing, it say's Barry Obama doesn't give a **** about the rule of law or our constitution.
 

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