By SAUL LANDAU
“The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.”
- George W. Bush, 9/13/01
“I am truly not that concerned about him.”
- George W. Bush, answering a question about where bin Laden was hiding. (3/13/02)
Spring did not return at the end of April, the time poets love; nor, as T. S. Eliot hoped, did we experience rebirth from the womb of suffering. Quite the opposite occurred for more than 300 people who died when tornadoes struck their homes in southern states.
Love and poetry did find a dramatic antithesis at the royal British wedding. One wit described the ceremony as offering the real meaning of “
As one cynic remarked, “So much attention to a vestigial institution whose real legacy is kinkiness. They, of course, do have occasional straight sex since they must – sigh, what a bore – reproduce their parasitic specie.” Simultaneously, the British government announced it would lay off some 1 million government workers. I wonder if any of them enjoyed the lavish display staged for the royal nuptials.
In that same week, the equally un-poetic assassination of Osama bin Laden took place. U.S. Navy Seals assassinated – they lacked training in kidnapping – bin Laden and three others, including one woman (possibly one of his wives).
Osama, the equivalent of Chair of the Muslim terrorist version of the Ford Foundation – financing worthwhile anti-Western jihad projects, backed the now-famous 9/11 proposal. He risked less than $1 million on the unlikely success of a group of suicidal men with box cutters. Osama gained the reputation of a one man terror machine able to provoke the world’s greatest empire into spending itself into deep debt.
Joseph Stiglitz estimated the response to bin Laden’s deadly caper to have cost more than $4 trillion – the Iraq War alone pushing over $3 trillion; Afghanistan – another trillion. Add the massive spending on so-called homeland security since 9/11 and you’re looking at real money.
Little debate occurred around the legality of the action, starting with sending U.S. armed forces into a foreign country without permission, or the order to murder one man, and kill others en route if needed. Illegal? Hell no! Those kinds of deeds are what made America special: we don’t have to ask permission and since we answer only to God – our God who chose us. We have different standards.
The U.S. President can order the assassination of a head of state or anyone else he thinks merits it. So what that the nutty despot Qaddafi lost a kid and some grandchildren? We had every right to try to assassinate him because we were acting under the law. As Richard Nixon said, “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal.” (Frost-Nixon CBS 1977)
Nixon was one of our Founding Fathers – wasn’t he? Anyway, George W. Bush also said it and so did Condoleezza Rice. The President, a great legal scholar, should know. But did anyone on the White House staff ask: doesn’t this set a precedent? When one leader of a country targets another for assassination, doesn’t this justify any leader targeting any other?
The U.S. public celebrated outside the White House, as people do when their team wins the World Series. Obama announced: justice had been done. Killing bad guys is justice, not vengeance, like in the movies. Legal? Who cares? The crowds chanted their clever nuanced slogan: “USA USA.”
Who recalls Osama’s CIA days? He helped the Agency get the Soviets out of Afghanistan. The Agency knew Bin Laden didn’t care about the Cold War. He hated Westernism – epitomized by the USA. But he proved useful against the infidel Soviet Communists whose man governed from Kabul.
On May 1, Obama crowed: “...tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history…our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place. Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.” The poetry of spring!
But how will we live without bin Laden? Will the national security casting directors soon find the appropriate national enemy before the 2012 elections, a black hat to justify spending trillions for defense that doesn’t defend us and for homeland security that makes us anxious? Our democratic trajectory has taken us from the post World War II Nuremburg trials of the Nazi war criminals to assassinating unarmed scoundrels!
Not to worry. Obama will soon quote Martin Luther King: “We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.” (Beyond Vietnam)
But the real response from the White House with public approval is GERONIMO!