Osama bin Laden & Obama – UPDATED

As I was in Rome when the story of bin Laden’s killing broke, I was rather glad to be too busy to really process it. Justice is satisfying, to an extent, but I tended to take the view so well-expressed by the Vatican, and many others, that the cheering in the streets over a human death is perhaps not appropriate or what we want to become.

Should the White House show the pictures of the dead bin Laden? I’m of two minds. Mussolini was shown in death, so why not bin Laden? I am not feeling especially worried about terrorists “hating us more” for showing the pictures. They’ve been hating us pretty steadily since the 1970′s, so it seems a vague and cowardly argument, to me.

By the same measure, though I did agree with President Obama that there was no need to “spike the football.” So I take a dim view of the fact that this utterance seems to have come with the usual expiration date, as he seems to be spiking it for fun and profit with some regularity, lately, and with his usual and long-standing lack of generosity.

Recall that when Sarah Palin stepped into the GOP ticket in ’08, Obama and his crew could not even be generous enough to call her the Governor of Alaska, instead deriding her as a “small-town” mayor. He has not grown any more gracious in office, as this demonstrates, so color me unimpressed.

Moreover, I am getting the sense that President Obama has discovered that there is value — when all of your domestic policies are tanking or proving unpopular, ineffective or just not real — to being a wartime president, and he seems to see no irony at all in the fact that nabbing bin Laden would not have been possible if he had succeeded in blocking the Bush policies he so ardently fought while in the senate.

I keep wondering what the ego-gratifying “new cowboy/wartime president” suit may escalate down the road.

So, this is worth reading: 9 Elements You Cannot Separate from Healthy Leadership

But I am getting off topic. What I wanted to do was link you to a few good pieces on OBL that I was unable to showcase yesterday, but since it’s today, let’s begin with Ed Driscoll’s revelent links at Instapundit.

A very interesting take from Jen Pierce: Storyless in Abbottabad: Welcome to the Future:

The point is not that killing Osama bin Laden is a moral crisis akin to an abortion crisis or to dropping an A-bomb on a couple of million people. The point is it will leave a mark, just like that, because what has been done is done. Things are different now. The point is, we can’t take it back. And we don’t know what we have done–because we don’t know. We are now officially in the era of Targeted Killings. Our enemies aren’t nations but angry rogues as dangerous as they are ridiculous, hidden, elusive, and unknowable. They could have a dirty nuke or a flaming bag of dog poo. This isn’t news. It hasn’t been for awhile. But you know when you say a word like “slacks” over and over again, and it starts to feel weird and you have no idea what it refers to anymore, no idea what point of reality it is supposed to mark or correspond with? (In linguistics they call it “semantic satiation.” I remember doing it with the word slacks when I was a kid so I call it, in my head, “the slacks thing”). Occasionally, its like I have to wake up all over again and remember that our enemy isn’t this massive, shadowy, snowy world where God is dead and they call us dogs, an enemy so enormous that it refers to itself with initials, because its name is so big.

It’s a guy with a limp and a bad set of kidneys.

She suggests the jubilant left may yet find itself in a free-fall. A different take, you’ll want to read the whole thing.

Ron Moreau also wonders if this might be Obama’s biggest mistake

Dana Vachon at Daily Beast: Osama died a fool and has no legacy

Mark Shea at Crisis: Our Ruling Classes and Reality Management:

Because of this politicized quasi-liturgical celebration of national communion in the American Spirit, everything in this narrative depends on the Purity of the Sacrifice and of the Political High Priest who offers it to achieve its main goal: namely, winning approval for himself. So controlling the message is everything. If it turns out that the whole “bin Laden hid behind a woman and was armed” thing is, well, false (as the White House has since acknowledged), then the flock naturally start wondering about the accuracy of the rest of the story. Some of the flock, already inclined to think Obama so untrustworthy that they can’t even believe he is an American citizen — despite massive evidence that he was born in Hawaii, as state records clearly show — quickly concluded that bin Laden is either a) not dead or b) that he died years ago, and the administration is concocting some massive fraud on a scale of faking the moon Landings.

Conspiracy Theories are often unhelpful and unwelcome. Sometimes, though, they’re true

Jonah Goldberg: Why the Rush?

Christopher Hitchens calls Noam Chomsky an idiot:

It’s no criticism of Chomsky to say that his analysis is inconsistent with that of other individuals and factions who essentially think that 9/11 was a hoax. However, it is remarkable that he should write as if the mass of evidence against Bin Laden has never been presented or could not have been brought before a court. This form of 9/11 denial doesn’t trouble to conceal an unstated but self-evident premise, which is that the United States richly deserved the assault on its citizens and its civil society. After all, as Chomsky phrases it so tellingly, our habit of “naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk … [is] as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes ‘Jew’ and ‘Gypsy.’ ” Perhaps this is not so true in the case of Tomahawk, which actually is the name of a weapon, but the point is at least as good as any other he makes.

Richard Fernandez: America as Jackie Chan

UPDATE: Don’t miss this piece by Allison Salerno, whose husband narrowly escaped with his life on 9/11 — Because Mercy is Greater than Justice:

We all fall short of the glory of God. As Christians, the task before us is to seek to be as merciful as Christ Himself. We can thank God for the witness of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s life. He faced evil head on, (shown above meeting with his would-be murderer) and yet somehow found the strength to forgive. As Pope Benedict XVI tells us: “Forgiving is not ignoring but transforming.”

Joe Carter: Harper’s and the Guantanamo Murders Conspiracy

CIA Deniers are the New “birthers”

In the Arena, Is is OK to be glad?

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://www.noodlingonit.com Kris, in New England

    It’s a guy with a limp and a bad set of kidneys.

    Hardly. OBL was a vicious man filled with hatred and empty of remorse.

    Cheering his death in public was wrong; then again those massive crowds were really just mobs of college students who – let’s be honest – would find any excuse to party good enough for them.

    Did I privately celebrate the death of this evil man? Yes I did. He murdered countless thousands of people – including the beautiful daughter of friends of ours.

  • Maureen

    If the West didn’t have any idea of honorable, worthy enemies being worth celebrating, and if nobody had ever written songs about Hector because he was a Trojan and not a Greek, I might worry about Shawnee Local Schools and Apache helicopters.

    Even the Athenians who didn’t like Spartans (and the Spartans were creepycreepybad, even though brave) knew that being like a Spartan was supposed to be taken in the complimentary sense, not in the sense of “you’re like a guy hated by 500,000 hereditary helot slaves, who has to sneak around to sleep with his wife and was forced to steal food as a boy to be allowed to live.”

  • Maureen

    And I’ll excuse American pundits who went to superliberal schools, because they really are that ignorant. But Hitchens had a real education, and has no excuse except being in a bad mood (because even being sick doesn’t make you forget Hector, unless it’s Alzheimers you’ve got).

  • dry valleys

    This Tim Elmore is quite interesting. I remember there’s a saying “Either lead, follow or get out of the way”. Well, I don’t think I’m a leader of men, and I resent being told what to do (although I generally have to because I haven’t got much bargaining power) so I must be in the way :)

    I’ll tell you what I always wonder about, managers who are really nice and friendly. To me it’s obvious that only steely people who can strike unsentimentally can become managers, so I wonder where they keep the reserves of harshness that they surely posess. I suppose if you’re good at your job and there isn’t some kind of personal problem with manager or staff member it doesn’t come up.

    Did you see that Republican debate? I thought Ron Paul and Gary Johnson expressed some quite sound views, I’d be glad if gthey took off amongst right-wing people. But that will only ever be on minor issues, and obviously all of them support neoliberalism so they wouldn’t get my support. Still interesting though.

  • Peggy Coffey

    Now all of a sudden it’s Usama and not Osama. I have never seen it spelled like this, with a U. Obviously it’s to keep us from mixing up Obama and Osama.

  • Brother Jeff

    I think justice was being cheered. Love of the USA was being cheered, the success of an incredibly daring mission was also being cheered (this was my first reaction; do we remember the failure to rescue the hostages in 1980), and closure (for some) was being cheered. It was a long wait. Everyone around me cheered at the news and these were not bad people morbidly obsessed with the physical death of OBL. Hardly.

  • Bender

    Obama is a “wartime president” the same way he is everything else — a thug.

    There never was any plan or intention for bin Laden to be captured alive. This is abundantly and undeniably clear from the fact that the U.S. now wants Pakistan to make bin Laden’s wives available for questioning. The same wives who the assault team had already detained in the raid, but did not take with them when they left. Why not take them? Because there was no plan to take prisoners.

    It was a kill mission all the way, as you would expect from a lawless thug like Obama. Live captures of terrorists are way down the last couple of years, Obama preferring simply to kill them.

    Now, the world is a safer place without the terrorists amongst us, but it is rather galling that the same folks who wailed about pouring water on someone’s head have no problems whatsoever with putting a bullet in the head of an unarmed man in his pajamas, and then lying about how much of a danger he actually presented at the scene to justify his summary execution instead of his live capture.

  • cathyf

    Bender, they couldn’t take prisoners since they didn’t have room because one of the four helicopters crashed at the beginning of the raid.

    Unless you are claiming that they PLANNED on crashing a helicopter?

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    For better or worse, the fact that we have a professional military in the USA means that ordinary civilians just aren’t well versed in the Laws of Armed Conflict. Which is why some in the military have been known to quip only half-jokingly: “America is not at war, the (Insert Army, Marines, Air Force, etc) is at war. America is at the mall.”

    So in the interest of civilian-military relations, I would encourage all to read this very well written piece on Small Wars Journal on the killing of OBL. It explains the legal issues pretty well….and since the Laws of Armed Conflict are based on Aquinas and Augustine (no kidding), it’s wholly consistent with Catholic thought.


  • Brother Jeff

    Great article, Maximus. Strength and honor.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Strength and honor, Brother Jeff…thanks for catching the reference! :-)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Had they taken Bin Ladin alive, there would have been no end of problesm, and dangers.

    It would have been hard to keep him under guard. Anyone who watched him would be putting their own lives, and probably their families as well, at great risk. His followers would certainly have tried to rescue him, maybe even committing Mumbai style slaughters of civilians, or holding kids hostage in schools, as in Beslan, until he was released—or holding whole cities hostage, with dirty nukes.

    (I’m not even going to get into the issue of civil vs. military trial, how the Left would go crazy demonstrating for his release or the possibility that he might just have been let go due to “health issues”, like the supposedly dying Lockerbie bomber, who is still, apaprently, alive and well.)

    Bin Ladin wasn’t a warrior. He was a mastermind. He was the guy behind the screen, who pulled the strings, the leader. He didn’t fight. He sent others out to die for him. He didn’t need a gun in his hand to be dangerous.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I confess, I really don’t get what Jan Pierce was trying to get at; I suppose I lack sufficient sensitivity.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I do find the current concern over not gloating too much over the death of Bin Ladin rather. . . ironic.

    After 9/11 itself, there was a great deal of gloating—over the deaths of the people in the Twin Towers. One “pundit” derided them all as “Little Eichmans.” Other pundits talked about chickens coming home to roost, and how America really deserved what happened, due to its wrongheaded policies. (Translation: “Stop defending Israel, already! It makes the Moslem world mad!”)

    A certain supposedly amusing and edgey cartoonist gleefully portrayed 9/11 widows as grasping harpies. President Bush was referred to as “Chimpy”, “Bushitler” and accused of every crime in the book, including having caused 9/11 himself.

    Not to mention a rising tide of anti-semetism, rising all across the world.

    There was very little talk back then about how rejoicing over human death wasn’t appropriate (or even civilized.) Anyone who tried was denoucned as being an enemy of free speech.

  • Will

    Apparently, according to some. the definition of “thug” is someone who does not agree with you.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    Hmm, Obama may have not “spiked the football” but he sure is doing one heck of an end zone dance. Obama deserves credit for making the decision, but was that decision anything different than 99% of possible presidents would have made? Hardly. Almost everyone would have come to the same conclusion. The real work from a presidential level was done in the Bush administration.

  • Bender

    Yeah, that’s it Will, Obama’s a thug because he does not agree with me (since I’m the only one who brought up him being a thug, I have to assume you mean me with that “some”).

    Well, as patently silly as that assertion is, so silly it is amazing that one would actually go ahead and post it after seeing it written out, at least you didn’t charge that I think he’s a thug because he’s black. That would make as much sense.

  • Sue from Buffalo

    Concerning Mark Shea’s comment about Obama and a “mountain of evidence,” where is the mountain? I’ve only seen his birth certificate which was released ONLY after Trump kept after him.
    I’m not saying that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii. I’m still not really convinced but I’m not fighting it either. I think that there would be blood in the streets (from his supporters) if it was actually proven that he was born elsewhere. I hate to think of all the legal repercussions as well but there is no proof that he wasn’t. Just a lot of unanswered questions which Obama seems to use to his advantage.

    So where is the mountain of evidence? Did I miss it? No school records here…at least not open to inspection. Could someone help me out with this?

  • Will

    “Yeah, that’s it Will, Obama’s a thug because he does not agree with me (since I’m the only one who brought up him being a thug, I have to assume you mean me with that “some”).”

    Nothing much is accomplished by name calling. If everybody calls everybody else names. we just operate at a lower level.

  • dry valleys

    Sue from Buffalo, I think this link answers your Very Real Concerns about Obama’s birth certificate:


  • kenneth

    He may be a thug, but he’s OUR thug, and I’m rather proud of him at the moment! Honestly I think they should have taken him along and given him the kill shot. “Straight thuggin for national security!” Time was when a clan’s chieftan was expected to have stood in a line of battle, and the dude is physically fit enough…

    And to all the “birthers” present: You’re amongst friends, it’s okay to come out and say it: You dislike Obama because he’s a liberal and a negro, and he must be foreign because you can’t see any legitimate way such a man could have gotten into office. There. I said it. I pointed out the elephant in the room!

    At any rate, it’s pointless to keep offering evidence to the tinfoil hat crowd because in the bizarro world of conspiracy theory, anything at all that contradicts their conclusion becomes part of the coverup and any gaps in their own evidence become ironclad proof of their theory. All we can do is keep them as comfortable as possible and safe in their surroundings….

  • Helmut for Boskone

    You know, there is a word for those who make sweeping unsubstantiated claims about groups of people (i.e. “All birthers are racists”). The word is “bigot”.

  • Kathy Kinsley

    Umm. Kenneth? I think your elephant is a mouse. Those same birthers, as far as I can tell, seem to just love Herman Cain. Who’s just a BIT blacker than President Obama – and has way more street cred, since he grew up here in the US -and in the South. Something a true racist would not be happy with. *The LIBERAL part, OTOH, might have some traction.

    But you are spot-on in that last paragraph. I saw the news about Osama’s death the morning after (I go to sleep early – sorry) and the first thing I thought was… “here come the conspiracies!” It’s getting to the point where they are almost predictable.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Feeling a tad bilious there, Kenneth? Speaking of keeping people comfortable, you might want to take a few deep breaths, and calm down. . .

  • http://submandave.blogspot.com submandave

    WRT all the “capture or kill” rhetoric, this argument largely misses the fact that there are distinct differences between combat and plolice work. In the former, any target that is hostile or displays hostile intent may be taken without discretion. The real purpose of Rules of Engagement is to, as specifically as possible, define what exactly constitutes a “hostile unit” or indicates “hostile intent.” The first is often a clear designation (e.g. uniformed enemies operating in a specific area or engaged in specific actions), while “hostile intent” may be restrictively defined (e.g. being shot at) or loosely defined (e.g. person brandishes a weapon). As such, OLB has consistently been designated a hostile unit and, as such, was free to be legally engaged as long as he was not actively trying to surrender.

    WRT the photos, I suspect some of the hesitation was due to the powers that be looking at them and saying “gee, he doesn’t look like the Devil, he just looks like a weak old man someone shot in the face.” That said, last time I reviewed classification guidance I don’t recall seeing “gruesome” or “icky” as legitimate grounds to restrict release. They don’t have to publish it, but I don’t see any legal basis upon which to deny a FOIA request either. That said, I also suspect that part of the “no release” was to extend the shelf life of Pres. Obama’s glory days as protector-in-chief. I’d be willing to bet that late this year or even next year, as economy woes start to drive down popularity and confidence, the administration will “reluctantly” comply with some FOIA requests and release the photos, allowing their MSM comrades to provide a whole new set of “Obama the Strong” headlines.

  • dry valleys

    Well, Kathy Kinsley, you and your friends may well like Herman Cain but very few other people do.

    Those who, when asked to explain why most black Americans vote for Democrats, fall back on explanations of racial solidarity can’t explain why Alan Keyes achieved nothing and Cain will most likely do the same.

    The reason why this is basically not an issue is that as far as I can tell it is mainly ultra-right-wing people, most of whom are white, who are in support of Cain.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    In short, Valleys, you don’t like Cain, because you don’t like his politics.

    It’s got nothing to do with racism.

    However, when Obama is criticized for his socialist policies, it’s always supposedly because his critics are just foaming-at-the-mouth white racists.

    Supposedly, it’s got nothing to do with his politics (though, actually, it does.)

    (By the way—who all these other people who dislike Cain? And why should we care what they thnk?)

  • R. Craigen

    Hi Elizabeth, it’s been a while since I last visited your site. A suitably eclectic basket of thoughts and takes on the Bin Laden killing. I have two things to add.

    First, I transferred my membership to a Mennonite church as an adult 30 years ago, and for some time bought, a bit uncomfortably, into the official line of passive nonresistance. Then I studied Mennonite history and read of the peaceful Mennonite colonies in Russia being raided by bandits on horseback who would rape the women, kill the men, steal everything and burn the farmhouses to the ground. Lemming-like, the men saw this happening and deliberated, deciding to do nothing (as Bill Maher would apparently have Christians do in such situations). A few young ‘uns went out and bought guns but were officially ostracized for this (though I believe many secretely admired their courage and spirit).

    Suddenly the old slogan “there are many things worth dying for but nothing worth killing for” seemed horribly inadequate.

    I came to the conclusion that one may (or may not) choose to submit oneself like a lamb to slaughter without resistance, as a genuine act of Christian meekness. But it is another thing altogether to stand by and watch others — especially one’s own family, whom God has entrusted to your care and protection — being brutally murdered … and do nothing; this amounts to complicity in the crime, and no mere sloganeering can reconcile it to the gospel.

    My second thought is disappointment with Hitchens. Though I often find his words repugnant I admire his brilliant mind, and I must say that the point you cite here about Americans naming weapons after their enemies simply misses the point so widely I lost some of that admiration.

    The use of names like “Apache”, “Tomahawk” and so on has nothing to do with contempt; it is the opposite: In American culture “Apache” is a term of admiration, representing a proud fighting spirit and tenacious courage, all positive values. That’s why so many sports teams get the name. Same with many other Indian names. It’s hard to conceive how Hitchens could get it so wrong!

    Well, Hitchens wasn’t “making” the point but conceding (“the point is at least as good as any other he makes”) the point to Chomsky (I have no problem accepting that Chomsky make such an error; it always seems that to him, truth and validity are secondary to having a “correct narrative”). But his only criticism is that Chomsky makes a categorical error with “Tomahawk” — a triviality; Hitchens misses the problem altogether.