The Assassination of Osama Bin Laden will further damage the reputation of the United States abroad

Last week, to the amazement of the entire planet, Barack Obama took to the airwaves to announce the death of Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man. Within minutes of Obama’s announcement, Americans took to the streets to celebrate, with chants of “USA, USA, USA” starting up in New York and Washington, much like al-Qaeda chanted “death to America” nearly ten years prior in Afghanistan.

Nearly nine months in the making, Barack Obama finally decided to act on intelligence that bin Laden was held up in a fortified compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Navy Seals were sent in on a secret mission even unknown by the Pakistani Government to kill the al-Qaeda leader. What followed in the days after the event was nothing short of ridiculous, reminiscent of the stories about Jessica Lynch & Pat Tillman.

At first, Osama was shot while he was shooting at the Navy Seals using his wife as a human shield;  the next day, we learned there was no human shield; the day after, we learned bin Laden was not even armed. I’m not bothered by the fact the bin Laden is dead; it was a long time coming. I don’t think anyone in the West is upset to see him go, though I am troubled, however, by the way that he died. It would have been far more beneficial for the reputation of the United States to have captured him alive.

The Palace of Justice, where the Nuremberg trials were held. Photograph: Eddie Worth/AP

Rewind about sixty years when the earth was faced with the worst evil the world has ever seen. When it came to bringing Nazi war criminals to justice, they were not hunted down and executed, but rather put on trial first – so that the whole world could see the evil they’ve caused, and the consequences of their actions. In short, Nazis were put on trial to face justice in a court of law; the type of justice that Americans were once proud of, even when those criminals were responsible for the deaths of millions.

Instead of a trial for bin Laden, he got a quick double tap to the forehead, followed by a quick burial at sea. Justice was swift, but will soon be forgotten, unlike the way the Americans once again broke international laws in order to conduct a safe and clean assassination. The US Attorney General justified the raid “as an action of national self-defence” against “a lawful military target.” I fail to see, however, how the killing of an unarmed man, regardless of who he is, can be classified as self-defence. If he was a lawful “military” target as the Attorney General suggests, then it is unlawful to kill him before attempting to capture him.

It is also illegal under international law to carry out a military operation on foreign soil without first notifying its government. The Pakistani government was notified only after all US troops had left the site. It would have been a clear violation of the UN charter and Pakistan’s sovereignty were it not for the fact that Pakistan had not objected.

I thought for a moment that when King George II retired from office and Obama got elected, things might go back to the way they once were – when justice didn’t mean an automatic bullet to the head. Instead, Obama went the way of his predecessors by looking for that quick solution to a larger problem. I think the operation’s main objective was managed poorly, and it won’t hide the shame of a country that has yet to find its way.

Rest in Hell Osama.

The Osama Compound In Abbottabad, Pakistan

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