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An Essay by Michael Moore
May 13, 2011 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Some Final Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden Although not typically a fan of a lot of Michael Moore's work, I think he has some cogent thoughts concerning recent world events and the U.S. in particular.

For nine years I wrote and I said that Osama bin Laden was not hiding in a cave. I'm not a cave expert, I was just using my common sense. He was a multimillionaire crime boss (using religion as his cover), and those guys just don't live in caves. He had people killed under the guise of religion, and not many in the media bothered to explain that every time Osama referenced Islam, he wasn't really quoting Islam. Just because Osama said he was a "Muslim" didn't make it so. Yet he was called a Muslim by everyone. If a crazy person started running around mass-killing people, and he did so while wearing a Wal-Mart blazer and praising Wal-Mart, we wouldn't automatically call him a Wal-Mart leader or say that Wal-Mart was the philosophy behind his killings, would we?

Yet, we began to fear Muslims and round them up. We profiled people from Muslim nations at airports. We didn't profile multi-millionaires (in fact, they now have their own fast-track line to easily get through security, an oddity considering every murderer on 9/11 flew in first class). We didn't run headlines that said "Multi-Millionaire Behind the Mass Murder of 3,000" (although every word in that headline is true). You can say his wealth had nothing to do with 9/11, but the truth is, there is no way he could have kept Al Qaeda in business without having the millions he had.

We did exactly what bin Laden said he wanted us to do: Give up our freedoms (like the freedom to be assumed innocent until proven guilty), engage our military in Muslim countries so that we will be hated by Muslims, and wipe ourselves out financially in doing so. Done, done and done, Osama. You had our number. You somehow knew we would eagerly give up our constitutional rights and become more like the authoritarian state you dreamed of. You knew we would exhaust our military and willingly go into more debt in eight years than we had accumulated in the previous 200 years combined.
posted by PepperMax (184 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for including the standard Liberal disclaimer that you don't usually agree with Michael Moore. If you're going to editorialize, you want to make sure not to alienate moderates.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:42 AM on May 13, 2011 [25 favorites]


Sadly, the people who understand what Moore's been trying to say already knew all this, because they believed it themselves and have been trying to tell everyone these very things for the past 10 years.

All the people who need to hear this won't, because they avoid anything by Michael Moore on principle.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on May 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


tl;dr: Moore was happy for a bit, but then remembered to be upset about everything, then whatever Chomsky said but more blathery.
posted by Artw at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


It is possible that that disclaimer is commonly included because a lot of Michael Moore's work is really annoying.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2011 [34 favorites]


We did exactly what bin Laden said he wanted us to do

Bin Ladin wanted to start a war between the West and Islam, with himself as the military leader, overseeing all Islamic countries united together under his power. I mean, I get that our let's-give-up-liberty-because-we're-scared stuff is very, very stupid and bad, but bin Ladin didn't get what he wanted. He was a moron.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:48 AM on May 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I liked the same sentiment better in its presentation here, actually.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:48 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is one of Moore's more tolerable dissertations, but frankly, other than a few true believers in fairytale land, if you think anything good would have come from dragging OBL back here for a trial and execution you're an idiot. Ideologically pure, but a simpleton and naive child all the same.
posted by docpops at 8:49 AM on May 13, 2011


I am a fan of Michael Moore, and I think this was great. Here's my favorite part:

If we really want to send bin Laden not just to his death, but also to his defeat, may I suggest that we reverse all of that right now. End the wars, bring the troops home, make the rich pay for this mess, and restore our privacy and due process rights that used to distinguish us from any other country. Right now, our democracy looks like Singapore and our economy has gone desperately Greek.

I know it will be hard to turn the clock back to before 9/11 when all we had to worry about were candidates stealing elections. A multi-billion dollar industry has grown up around "homeland security" and the terror wars. These war profiteers will not want to give up their booty so easily. They will want to keep us in fear so they can keep raking it in. We will have to stop them. But first we must stop believing them.


This is going to be the next battleground, and the believers in the Long War are already making the case that bin Laden's death, if anything, requires the U.S. to intensify the War on Terror. We did a lot more to ourselves than bin Laden ever did to us.
posted by jhandey at 8:49 AM on May 13, 2011 [26 favorites]


Man inserts himself into current news with opinion and anecdote.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:52 AM on May 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is one of Moore's more tolerable dissertations, but frankly, other than a few true believers in fairytale land, if you think anything good would have come from dragging OBL back here for a trial and execution you're an idiot. Ideologically pure, but a simpleton and naive child all the same.

Why?
posted by jhandey at 8:53 AM on May 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


Man inserts himself into current news with opinion and anecdote.

To be fair, isn't that simply what all pundits do, not just Moore?
posted by aught at 8:54 AM on May 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thanks for this, restless_nomad.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on May 13, 2011


A pity Mr Moore didn't pop over to Osama's house, as he knew where he was living, and save us all this trouble by boring him to death
posted by joannemullen at 8:55 AM on May 13, 2011 [7 favorites]



This is one of Moore's more tolerable dissertations, but frankly, other than a few true believers in fairytale land, if you think anything good would have come from dragging OBL back here for a trial and execution you're an idiot. Ideologically pure, but a simpleton and naive child all the same.


Well I'm glad we got that cleared up!
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:56 AM on May 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


I am a fan of Michael Moore, and I think this was great.

Great in what sense? Great as a make-believe fairy tale or great as something that can be practically achieved by any coherent majority in the USA? "Make" the rich pay? "End the wars"? How? With bullhorns and pitchforks? With the current ideological mood in the country? With the current make-up of Congress?
posted by blucevalo at 8:56 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reality..??? The reality is that we've got this globe so fucked up that it really doesn't matter who is dead or alive, or who is fighting who, or which river is rising, or which reactor is melting down...

The fan has a direct link to the power source and there is an endless supply of shit....
posted by tomswift at 8:56 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Moore's personality aside, I think the final paragraph says it best:

Hideki Tojo killed my uncle and millions of Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and a hundred thousand other Americans. He was the head of Japan, the Emperor's henchman, the man who was the architect of Pearl Harbor. When the American soldiers went to arrest him, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. The soldiers immediately worked on stopping his bleeding and rushed him to an army hospital where he was saved by our army doctors. He then had his day in court. It was a powerful exercise for the world to see. And on December 23, 1948, after he was found guilty, we hanged him. A killer of millions was forced to stand trial.

Whatever moral superiority America once had, it's gone now. Regardless of how this "war" turns out in the "end", the PR battle is surely lost at this stage.
posted by Acey at 8:58 AM on May 13, 2011 [21 favorites]


People who are in favor of killing OBL aren't bloodthirsty morons. He was going to end up dead. Dragging it out over years, giving him a forum where he can be more visible than he has been in a decade, and dragging families through the spectacle of a trial is really what people are asking for when they wring their hands and express ambivalence over this outcome. Your need to express your sadness that he was executed holds no more moral weight or significance than the opinion that killing him was justified.
posted by docpops at 8:59 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


He was going to end up dead. Dragging it out over years, giving him a forum where he can be more visible than he has been in a decade, and dragging families through the spectacle of a trial is really what people are asking for when they wring their hands and express ambivalence over this outcome.

I'm curious why you're so certain that there aren't any families of the victims who wouldn't have wanted a chance to tell him their own side of the story, and would therefore have wanted a trial?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:01 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm a liberal, but I also agree that Michael Moore is fat.
posted by Legomancer at 9:01 AM on May 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


So Moore is now the arbiter of who's a "real" muslim and who's not? Did I miss a memo?
posted by The Tensor at 9:02 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


the reason why people hate Michael Moore is that in Fahrenheit 9/11 he managed to segue from fully non-ironic warporn from Iraq with a rap metal soundtrack ala Youtube to George Bush telling a bunch of awkward rich white old people that they were his real base. you can see that dialectic here when he brags about the ex-SF people he claims to employ.

Great in what sense? Great as a make-believe fairy tale or great as something that can be practically achieved by any coherent majority in the USA? "Make" the rich pay? "End the wars"? How? With bullhorns and pitchforks? With the current ideological mood in the country? With the current make-up of Congress?

The Obama administration decided that justice in the non-Rambo sense of the word was too risky for bin Laden, so they had him executed: what does that say about our government, culture, and society?

I agreed with basically everything he had to say here, except making the rich pay, everyone has to pay, and everyone is paying. The political question is what pro quo for that quid. No one on the left has any taste for what populism in the US actually looks and smells like: a fat white man from Michigan who likes guns and greasy food, and bad music.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:04 AM on May 13, 2011


isn't that simply what all pundits do

I was going to add "when opinion would suffice" but looking back, its a pattern of certain people to insert anecdotes of their personal life, real or imagined, as if they had more weight in the argument than other by virtue of some form of imagined affinity to the subject(s) in question.

"I only hire SEALs", "My best friend died on 9/11", "I was there". When I hear shite like that, I tune out.

And I made no judgement on Mr. Moore's opinion or body of work, always a 50/50 with me. (required Solid Liberal disclaimer)
posted by jsavimbi at 9:04 AM on May 13, 2011


Great in what sense? Great as a make-believe fairy tale or great as something that can be practically achieved by any coherent majority in the USA? "Make" the rich pay? "End the wars"? How? With bullhorns and pitchforks? With the current ideological mood in the country? With the current make-up of Congress?

With all due respect, I'm not sure what you're looking for from a polemicist - a detailed, Pew Charitable Trust/Center for American Progress produced tome that will end up as a bullet point on a couple of think tank policy analyst's resumes and as a couple of nicely formatted doorstops?

And I'm not sure what's objectionable about what he's saying (from a leftie perspective, that is), other than the fact that he's Michael Moore - I thought most people in America and abroad wanted to end the wars at some point, and most Americans in poll after poll after poll want to make the rich pay. If that's true, then what's wrong with saying so - and pushing politicians to do it? The current makeup of Congress wasn't ordained by God, no matter what some of them might believe. It changed 6 months ago. It can change again.
posted by jhandey at 9:05 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is one of Moore's more tolerable dissertations, but frankly, other than a few true believers in fairytale land, if you think anything good would have come from dragging OBL back here for a trial and execution you're an idiot. Ideologically pure, but a simpleton and naive child all the same.
Why?


Because most Americans no longer believe in principles. Just look at the Bill of Rights:

1st Amendment - We now have "free protest zones."
2nd Amendment - Still got it. One for ten!
3rd Amendment - We don't have to quarter troops. We just have to bankrupt our nation to fight wars of choice while sending millions of people into poverty.
4th Amendment - violated every moment by the TSA, NSA, FBI, etc.
5th Amendment - due process is denied to soldiers, civilians, and people purposefully loopholed into legal quagmires.
6th Amendment - ditto
7th Amendment - ditto
8th Amendment - we regularly torture people. Even people who aren't suspected of terrorism.
9th Amendment - the constitution is regularly ignored.
10th Amendment - the Feds regularly punish States for not complying.

There's not much worth fighting for, except that we are economically and socially better off than many third world nations.
posted by notion at 9:06 AM on May 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


His comparisons with the death of Hitler and the nuking of Japan were interesting. Nobody celebrated those events because their kids/husbands/sons -- 8-10% of the population -- were still in the service. Today less than half of 1% of the population is in the armed services. No disrespect intended, but America doesn't care as much about bringing the soldiers home as it does about killing the bad guy. This is why we have an all-volunteer army: To sever the link between military action and popular sentiment.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:11 AM on May 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


if you think anything good would have come from dragging OBL back here for a trial and execution you're an idiot. Ideologically pure, but a simpleton and naive child all the same.

It's good to see we can have a healthy discussion about the erosion of due process and civil rights without resorting to calling those we disagree with "idiot children". Oh, wait.

I agreed with everything Michael Moore said, at least up until the end. It could have done with less "I was right all along", and "make the rich pay" is a surefire way to sabotage any chance of a real discussion, but overall it was still better than Chomsky's take on things which starts off reasonably but then devolves into "George Bush is a war criminal" --- which has some logic to it, but is an instant and fatal derail for the discussion. Goddamn liberals could stand to have a little more tact if they want their words to influence instead of alienate.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:12 AM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can handle bin Laden being assassinated but I can't stand all the people suggesting that his due process rights were invalid/nonexistant and that the world is a better place for forfeiting them.

Every person deserves a trial, to be judged by a jury of their peers, and so forth. To be blunt: if you don't believe in due process you are an enemy to freedom.
posted by polyhedron at 9:12 AM on May 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


2011 is not 1945.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dragging it out over years, giving him a forum where he can be more visible than he has been in a decade, and dragging families through the spectacle of a trial is really what people are asking for when they wring their hands and express ambivalence over this outcome.

Thanks for explaining to me what I'm really hoping for. But honestly, I'm pretty agnostic on what happened to bin Laden personally. What I'm not agnostic about is the realization that the Boogeyman is no more, and that the U.S. needs to step back and take a look at just how much has changed in the name of bin Laden, and whether we as a country are okay with that.

I know it's naive and simple of me to think this, but maybe Americans can live without fear of the boogeyman under the bed or in rural Afghanistan.
posted by jhandey at 9:17 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Obama administration decided that justice in the non-Rambo sense of the word was too risky for bin Laden, so they had him executed: what does that say about our government, culture, and society?

The administration decided they were going to kill a legitimate military target. Something the United States has been trying to do since at least 1998, after bin Laden declared war on America. If bin Laden wanted to be treated as an accused criminal, rather than a tactical and strategic target, he's had at least 13 years to surrender.

The war crimes trials in Asia and Europe happened after an unconditional surrender of the Empire of Japan and the Reich.
posted by spaltavian at 9:19 AM on May 13, 2011 [18 favorites]


If a crazy person started running around mass-killing people, and he did so while wearing a Wal-Mart blazer and praising Wal-Mart, we wouldn't automatically call him a Wal-Mart leader or say that Wal-Mart was the philosophy behind his killings, would we?

"Wal-Mart said Thursday that it is bringing guns back to many of its U.S. stores in an effort to lift slumping sales."

Whatever moral superiority America once had, it's gone now.

Is this the moral superiority that we didn't squander by eliminating the people here before us, or the moral superiority we didn't squander on enslaving the African Americans, or the moral superiority that wasn't squandered on two centuries of annexations, invasions, massacres, lynchings and corrupt politics by decent church-goin' people with their mean, pinched, bitter, faces, or is it the moral superiority that much of the world doesn't believe we ever had to start with?

I'm just saying, if you think the US has squandered its moral superiority by killing a man responsible for the deaths of thousands, then you, my friend, are woefully ignorant of American history.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:23 AM on May 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


Can we please also get Michael Moore's take on the other several dozen victims of drone strikes? I mean, if we want due process for one, then really we should be going through these same exercises for all the other backwater terrorists denied their right to a jury trial.
posted by docpops at 9:25 AM on May 13, 2011


Your need to express your sadness that he was executed...

I'd prefer you didn't start-out the thread by calling people who disagree with you idiot children. I think it makes MetaFilter worse. But if you insist, then you can make it harder for people to brush you off if you actually read the article linked in the OP. In this case, for instance, you don't appear to have a clear understanding of why Moore believes that Bin Laden should have been captured and tried. And failing to understand an issue while simultaneously exhibiting great passion about it is not a flattering look.
posted by cribcage at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


I wish people would stick to criticizing the message and not the messenger because like Michael Moore, I, also, am not a cave expert.
posted by perhapses at 9:39 AM on May 13, 2011


ABSOLUTIST STATEMENT AND BLANKET DISMISSAL OF CONTRARY OPINIONS
posted by Pants McCracky at 9:39 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought this was one of Moore's better pieces. But who was teaching him Talmud when he was a kid?
posted by ericbop at 9:39 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some Final Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden
His final thoughts maybe, but unlikely to be the final thoughts.
posted by beagle at 9:49 AM on May 13, 2011


beagle - on Mefi, that goes without saying.
posted by PepperMax at 9:52 AM on May 13, 2011


ABSOLUTIST STATEMENT AND BLANKET DISMISSAL OF CONTRARY OPINIONS

NUANCED DISAGREEMENT, POOPHEAD
posted by shakespeherian at 9:52 AM on May 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Whatever moral superiority America once had, it's gone now.

Is it conceivable, in a room full of Americans, to suggest that America never had moral superiority; to suggest that to believe so is to believe certain propaganda that was no doubt to fed to us in our youth, which is pretty much what all nations do to their young?

Yes, cumulatively, over time, America has behaved better (to my estimation) than many other nations with regard to rights for its citizens, due process etc ... but to suggest that this is some kind of collective moral triumph is, frankly, naive. Because hate them all you want (because you don't like their message or maybe you just don't like them) but the Chomskys and Moores have damned important points to make about precisely how immoral much of America's foreign policy has been for a very, very long time.

Again, stuff like this gets me thinking of something I read from William Burroughs not so long ago and quoted in the Egypt thread while that amazing historical moment was unfurling:

"Nobody's busting into your apartment at three in the morning, are they? Well, then don't worry about what they're doing in South Korea and places like that. It's like the standard of living. Are you content to achieve your higher standard of living at the expense of people all over the world who've got a lower standard of living? Most Americans would say yes. Now we ask the question, are you content to enjoy your political freedom at the expense of people who are less free? I think they would also say yes."

There is no purity in politics. Never has been. Never will be. Like my second favorite game hockey, it's hard fought all the way with occasional moments of beauty but also all matter nasty shit going on that the cameras mostly don't catch.
posted by philip-random at 9:53 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the idea that our side, the US, was morally perfect and superior in every way before the end of World War II. Have you seen The Fog of War? One could easily (!) make the case that dealing with OBL was different than dealing with an openly operating military commander who wasn't in hiding, exactly, and whose residence had been surrounded by media before his attempted suicide and arrest.
posted by raysmj at 9:56 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


He was a multimillionaire crime boss

When Chomsky asked how Americans would feel if the Iraqis stormed Bush's compound, executed him in his nightclothes, and then dumped his body out at sea, there was a lot of indignation at the analogy. Bush was a head of state, they reminded us. Not some common criminal like bin Laden!

And yet if anyone says that bin Laden had 5th Amendment protection against being deprived of life without due process, we're quickly told that he was no common criminal. He had declared war on America!

It's funny how that works.
posted by Trurl at 10:02 AM on May 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


"make the rich pay" is a surefire way to sabotage any chance of a real discussion, but overall it was still better than Chomsky's take on things which starts off reasonably but then devolves into "George Bush is a war criminal" --- which has some logic to it, but is an instant and fatal derail for the discussion.

Totally. If people don't want to hear something, you're best off not saying it. Then there's no chance they'll confront it. Sure, you admit that there's "some logic to it," but you have to think of the wider picture-- you need to get people to concede on the smaller, meaningless points.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:06 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]



So Moore is now the arbiter of who's a "real" muslim and who's not? Did I miss a memo?

You missed the memo that says that whenever anyone commits an act of violence in the name of religion we have to reverse engineer that person's ideology as a perversion of whatever religion they espouse to have committed the so-called "evil act" in the name of, whether or not they're actions are explicitly justified in their holy scriptures or implicitly condoned by their congregations or religious leaders.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:08 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's funny how that works. -Trurl


Nothing new. During the American Civil War, the Union alternatively treated Confederates as fellow Americans in a state of rebellion or as citizens of another nation-state, depending on which interpretation of the enemy was most beneficial in the time and place.
posted by Atreides at 10:09 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dragging it out over years, giving him a forum where he can be more visible than he has been in a decade, and dragging families through the spectacle of a trial is really what people are asking for when they wring their hands and express ambivalence over this outcome. Your need to express your sadness that he was executed holds no more moral weight or significance than the opinion that killing him was justified.

As Moore says in the piece, a trial like this isn't really about the criminal or the victims. There is no doubt that bin Laden would have been found guilty; he took credit for a violent crime. But had he gone to trial, we would have his side of everything on record. We would have the crime on record in detail. And in the end the US would have looked like the democratic, civilized nation it claims to be, instead of a rogue state that just assassinates whoever it wants.

I'm still not clear on what actually happened, but I think that overall this has set a terrible precedent by the response alone. Most Americans now seem happy to support open, public extrajudicial assassination. Just as torture no longer has to be so carefully concealed, I'm afraid that political murder without trial will follow.
posted by byanyothername at 10:12 AM on May 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


And yet if anyone says that bin Laden had 5th Amendment protection against being deprived of life without due process, we're quickly told that he was no common criminal. He had declared war on America!

I'm curious about how declaring war on the US works. Bin Ladin was just some guy. If I declare war on Chile, does Chile have to come up with a military solution for me?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:12 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


When Chomsky asked how Americans would feel if the Iraqis stormed Bush's compound, executed him in his nightclothes, and then dumped his body out at sea, there was a lot of indignation at the analogy. Bush was a head of state, they reminded us. Not some common criminal like bin Laden!

And yet if anyone says that bin Laden had 5th Amendment protection against being deprived of life without due process, we're quickly told that he was no common criminal. He had declared war on America!

It's funny how that works.


It's only "funny" if the same person says both. Did someone here do that?

Bin Laden was not a "criminal" in the common sense of the term; and we are in a state of war with his organization.

Seems like most liberals think the abuses of power in the last decade come from us treating this conflict as a war. Just the opposite is the case- rendition, black site prisons, torture, indefinite detention, rejection of the Geneva Conventions- all of this comes from the lack of acknowledgement that this is a war.

shakespeherian I'm curious about how declaring war on the US works. Bin Ladin was just some guy. If I declare war on Chile, does Chile have to come up with a military solution for me?

If, after declaring war of Chile, did you organize a mission that kills 3000 people in Santiago from a third world country with a sympathetic regime that supports you and your well financed organization?

Then, yeah, maybe.
posted by spaltavian at 10:19 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whatever moral superiority America once had, it never actually had.
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


But wouldn't the result be the same as if I hadn't declared war on Chile? My point is that in some guy in a different country breaks laws or kills people or whatever in your country, then that's a situation. But I don't think some guy in a different country can legitimately declare war, seeing as he does not represent a nation.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:28 AM on May 13, 2011


Dragging it out over years, giving him a forum where he can be more visible than he has been in a decade, and dragging families through the spectacle of a trial...

The point is that the United States should do the difficult and possibly dangerous thing if that's what we say we stand for.
posted by Huck500 at 10:30 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


octobersurprise: I'm just saying, if you think the US has squandered its moral superiority by killing a man responsible for the deaths of thousands, then you, my friend, are woefully ignorant of American history.

I wasn't trying to suggest that America was some mythical paragon of morality. I may well be ignorant of a lot of American history (I'm English), but I'm probably more aware of those dark periods than the average American. No; rather I was trying to get at how America is perceived these days, and more specifically how much attention is given to perception generally.

The act of resuscitating Hideki Tojo, only for him to be executed, might seem absurd and a waste of time, but the symbolism there is powerful. It makes a statement that says "we are the Good Guys. We will do the Right Thing, even when no one expects us to."

Now, I know there is no such thing as "Good Guys" and "Bad Guys". But most of the world do think in such terms. Hell, Bush even framed this "war" in such terms from the start (even if his administration's political philosophy was more of a cynical Realist one).

I thought that Obama would bring a little more consideration for perception into this than Bush did. It certainly wouldn't have been hard. Right now, he could (I'm guessing) have Bin Laden alive and in custody. I know that would do little to convince the Taliban that America's motives are moral, but it might at least keep a few allies on side. The fact that this doesn't even appear to have been considered worries me a little. It suggests America has stopped pretending to be good, and accepted its role as judge, jury and executioner.

Frankly, I had hoped for better from Obama, and from America.
posted by Acey at 10:32 AM on May 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


When I read "Some Final Thoughts..." I thought it was going to link to a deeply ironic but hilarious Onion piece. In today's news, GWB was eating a soufflé when told and one congressman who saw the photos confirms, "I saw brains".

Admittedly the "news" content on OBL is getting a tad light, but "Some final thoughts..."? Not in my lifetime.
posted by Mike D at 10:32 AM on May 13, 2011


Bin Ladin wanted to start a war between the West and Islam, with himself as the military leader, overseeing all Islamic countries united together under his power. I mean, I get that our let's-give-up-liberty-because-we're-scared stuff is very, very stupid and bad, but bin Ladin didn't get what he wanted.

I'm not so sure this is correct. I think a lot of what you're ascribing to bin Laden is actually more attributable to al Zawarhi, and really not much different in scope than the kind of grandiose rhetoric employed by our leaders in the West. Bin Laden was pretty crazy, but my recollection is that he has said he was trying to bankrupt the US by drawing them into a costly war. He did enjoy some moderate success in that regard. I mean, the US is not exactly bankrupt and there are many causes of its current financial woes that are not directly related to the reaction to 9/11. But I think it's safe to say the US has been significantly weakened and a lot of that is in line with bin Laden's calculations.

Anyways, when your enemies track you down and shoot you in the face and people don't seem to care that much I don't think you can say you've really "won."
posted by Hoopo at 10:37 AM on May 13, 2011


But I don't think some guy in a different country can legitimately declare war, seeing as he does not represent a nation.

Since when are wars only between states? A declaration of war isn't worth the paper its printed on if it doesn't get other people to believe the war is valid. His declaration of war did that, even thought he wasn't a state. If you're a violent jihadist, you thought he declaration was pretty legitimate.

Furthermore, the idea that OBL was just "some guy" is the problem with your reasoning. He wasn't just a fundamentalist with a dream; he essentially had a small army with funding. Making trains run on time isn't what makes someone capable of war.

In some ways, his group reminds be of the religious-military orders of the Middle Ages. A lot of these groups didn't have territory, at least not at first, but anyone who felt their swords doesn't deny their capacity to declare and make war.
posted by spaltavian at 10:41 AM on May 13, 2011


Anyways, when your enemies track you down and shoot you in the face and people don't seem to care that much I don't think you can say you've really "won."

Except that a whole lot of people--jihadists--care and will carry out your legacy for generations, and under their belief system to die in such a way is glorious martyrdom.
posted by Rykey at 10:41 AM on May 13, 2011


I'm not a cave expert, I was just using my common sense. He was a multimillionaire crime boss (using religion as his cover), and those guys just don't live in caves.

Bin Laden's Fugitive Trail
"For a man on the run, Osama bin Laden seemed to do very little running. Instead, he chose to spend long stretches – possibly years – in one place and often in the company of his family.

As details emerge of bin Laden's era as America's most-wanted man, it appears he was often going in one direction while the American-directed hunt was moving in another.

... bin Laden relied on Afghan allies for years after the Sept. 11 attacks and possibly spent relatively limited time in Pakistan's rugged tribal areas, which had been the much-discussed focus of U.S. intelligence and military resources in the manhunt.

... Bin Laden didn't go underground, as widely believed by intelligence agencies. He stayed in Kandahar, mingled with his Arab fighters and met Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, according to an AP interview with a former Taliban intelligence chief."
posted by ericb at 10:42 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Olbermann Defends Michael Moore, Calls Out Ed Schultz.
posted by ericb at 10:44 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, do conservatives tend to have the "I agree with most of what you're saying, but you're kind of embarrassing us" vibe Moore gives me when it comes to Glenn Beck?
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:45 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Except that a whole lot of people--jihadists--care and will carry out your legacy for generations, and under their belief system to die in such a way is glorious martyrdom.

My point was that support for bin Laden and al Qaeda appears to have diminished over the last 5 or so years, not that there are no remaining supporters. I apologize for not being more clear.
posted by Hoopo at 10:45 AM on May 13, 2011


Bin Laden was not a "criminal" in the common sense of the term

Because he had an ideology? So did the people who kidnapped Patty Hearst.

Because of his body count? How many more people would Jared Laughner have to have shot before he too was no longer a criminal in the common sense of the term?

we are in a state of war with his organization

So if Congress signs an AUMF against Greenpeace, their American members will no longer be protected by the 5th Amendment either?
posted by Trurl at 10:46 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since when are wars only between states? A declaration of war isn't worth the paper its printed on if it doesn't get other people to believe the war is valid. His declaration of war did that, even thought he wasn't a state. If you're a violent jihadist, you thought he declaration was pretty legitimate.

What are the terms of this war, then? Once a guy with a bunch of friends who all have guns and money declares war on a country, when is the war over? Do we have to hunt down and shoot in the face everyone who is sympathetic to bin Ladin? That seems rather impossible, and it also means that we're still fighting World War II.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:49 AM on May 13, 2011


Yet, we began to fear Muslims and round them up.

War for American hearts and minds rages over Islam -- "Terror threat or peaceful religion? Both sides fight it out on small battlefields around US."
posted by ericb at 10:50 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is one of Moore's more tolerable dissertations, but frankly, other than a few true believers in fairytale land, if you think anything good would have come from dragging OBL back here for a trial and execution you're an idiot. Ideologically pure, but a simpleton and naive child all the same.

That's a pretty broad brush you have there; are you trying to paint a fucking fence or something?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:51 AM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had to run for my life on 9-11. This wasnt a TV movie. It was a terrible, awful, excruciating moment in my life and I wanted to fully move on, but I'm still feel pretty nasty when I look back on that day. I want to feel some tinge of sorrow over the fact that this human being was shot in his nightshirt in front of his wife and kids. I want to want to feel some sense that there was injustice or a scar or stain on our soul in the way this was done. I don't feel it though. I find the ugly feeling is replaced by a smile when I contemplate his end. I shouldn't, but I do. Just like I should get over and move on from that terrible time. The human cord that connected me to him was irrevocably severed. He was just a rabid animal that terrified us in the woods, and now that the monster is dead; we move on older and wiser.
posted by humanfont at 10:53 AM on May 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ah, progress ...

2 Imams Heading to Islamaphobia Conference in N.C. Ordered Off Plane
"Two imams heading to a conference on prejudice against Muslims* said they were forced off their North Carolina-bound flight to undergo an additional security check -- only to have the pilot take off without them, even after they were cleared.

... Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul, both imams in the Memphis area, were clad in Islamic attire when they were told to leave the aircraft as it was taxiing toward the runway.

... One representative of Delta Air Lines, who claimed to be advocating on the two men's behalf, came out visibly red-faced after a long talk with the pilot, according to Rahman. This was after the plane had returned to the gate and Rahman and Zaghoul had gotten off and gone through a secondary screening process. Shortly thereafter, the plane took off -- without the men, who hadn't been allowed back on board.

'He didn't give any reason,' said Rahman, referring to the pilot. '[The representative] said only that the pilot is not allowing you to go.'"
* -- Oh, the irony.
posted by ericb at 10:57 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


And elsewhere
Here's a challenge to the dominant perspective that hopefully get's you thinking (after you get over being pissed off):

Great. Osama's dead. Good job to my former compatriots in tier one. Unfortunately, Osama may have already won strategically (see Boyd on al Qaeda's Grand Strategy for more) by the time they got to him. How? He was able to cause an over reaction whereby the US did serious harm to itself. Here's the run down. You decide.

$3 Trillion in expense and thousands of lives fighting two optional wars that helped plunge the US gov't in fiscal crisis. Osama's attack made it possible for defense and homeland security spending to skyrocket to levels not seen since the darkest depths of the cold war (where we were in a struggle with a global superpower). The US now spends as much on defense as the rest of the world combined with little expectation that this spending will be reduced.
Osama was able to force the US into creating a masssive internal security apparatus (the Homeland Security Department) that is still growing rapidly. It now represents the largest internal security market in the world and is a hefty tax on all productive economic activity.
A perpetual state of emergency has been declared in the US. Liberties have been suspended indefinitely. Technological scanning of communications and data is not under any meaningful oversight. Anybody can be held indefinitely w/o trial or commication. Anbody can be tortured through rendition. The President can even designate any American an enemy combatant (a list of people we can expect to see grow rapidly over the next decade), which means that they can be killed on sight w/o trial or due process.

posted by rough ashlar at 10:57 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bin Laden was not a "criminal" in the common sense of the term

Because he had an ideology? So did the people who kidnapped Patty Hearst.

Because of his body count? How many more people would Jared Laughner have to have shot before he too was no longer a criminal in the common sense of the term?


Because he was the leader of global military network that operated largely beyond the bounds and capabilities of the American criminal justice system. Because his attacks, the likehood of the future attacks, posed a direct threat to the security of the United States. Because the attacks we so devastating that a choice had to be made to prevent future attacks by defeating or weakening him.

What are the terms of this war, then? Once a guy with a bunch of friends who all have guns and money declares war on a country, when is the war over?

Most wars in history have been like this. The post-Westphalia, I beat your army/you surrender/I get Alsace-Lorraine/war is over model is the oddity.
posted by spaltavian at 10:58 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Humanfront, I'm curious as to why you feel conflicted that you feel happiness over the death of a person who tried to kill you? When did we determine that it was symptomatic of devolution to not feel sadness at the death of another person who was demonstrably toxic to human existence?
posted by docpops at 11:00 AM on May 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


So here is something I have been thinking about for a week or two. For the last decade, the two principal villains in American culture have been Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

Here is an excerpt from Hussein's wikipedia entry, in the section on the Iran-Iraq war:

Saddam reached out to other Arab governments for cash and political support during the war, particularly after Iraq's oil industry severely suffered at the hands of the Iranian navy in the Persian Gulf. Iraq successfully gained some military and financial aid, as well as diplomatic and moral support, from the Soviet Union, China, France, and the United States, which together feared the prospects of the expansion of revolutionary Iran's influence in the region


Here is an excerpt from bin Laden's, in the section on the mujahideen and Afghanistan:

After leaving college in 1979, bin Laden arrived to Pakistan and joined Abdullah Azzam to take part in the Soviet war in Afghanistan.[59][60] During Operation Cyclone from 1979 to 1989, the United States provided financial aid and weapons to the mujahideen leaders[61] through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Bin Laden met and built relations with Hamid Gul, who was a three star general in the Pakistani army and head of the ISI agency. Although the United States provided the money and weapons, the training of militant groups was entirely done by the Pakistani Armed Forces and the ISI.


[emphasis mine in both cases]

So in the 1980s, the US was aiding, both financially and militarily, their future hobgoblins to aid against some greater perceived threat.

Currently the US has just started sending support to the Libyan rebels. What are the chances that some obscure Libyan captain right now will be the great American villain of the 2040s?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:01 AM on May 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


The "targeted killing" of Osama isn't unique. It wasn't the first nor will it be the last time our military pursues this type of justice. This paper argues that there is a legal distinction between assassination and targeted killing, but it also says:

To maintain international legitimacy and retain the moral high ground within the war on
terror, the U.S. should clarify its policy regarding the specific targeting of suspected terrorists outside the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The current policy remains shrouded underneath a veil of secrecy, its full extent unknown to the general public and mostly a subject of outright speculation. To allay the fears of human rights advocates who fear the policy may constitute an abuse of power and constitute an arbitrary deprivation of an individual’s right to life, the policy must be made public, which can be done without revealing classified information.


I'm not familiar enough with the legal aspect to make an informed opinion one way or another, but from a moral perspective it seems problematic to me.

He was just a rabid animal that terrified us in the woods, and now that the monster is dead; we move on older and wiser.

But see he wasn't a rabid animal he was a human being, and it doesn't seem we are any wiser for his killing. In fact what has his death actually accomplished besides giving some people satisfaction? We're still engaged in two "declared" wars and a third shadow war which respects no boundary.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:01 AM on May 13, 2011


Most wars in history have been like this. The post-Westphalia, I beat your army/you surrender/I get Alsace-Lorraine/war is over model is the oddity.

I don't think this answers my question.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:03 AM on May 13, 2011


So by default the possession of a human genome gives one a moral protection not inherent to even the most evolved mammal or primate? That seems nuts.
posted by docpops at 11:05 AM on May 13, 2011


It's worth pointing out as well that while people are entitled to due process under American law, this sort of thing seems to have been done outside of the law from start to finish. The US violated a country's sovereignty in order to perform an extra-judicial assassination of one of its enemies. This was not exactly the police getting a warrant and reading Miranda rights, and frankly that was not a possibility. A lot has been done outside of American and international law in the last 10 years because of bin laden, and this particular incident strikes me as much less of a concern than most of the others violations given many countries have been engaging in assassination on and off the books for hundreds of years. I'm having a hard time with this being among the list of most regrettable developments since 9/11.
posted by Hoopo at 11:09 AM on May 13, 2011


So, do conservatives tend to have the "I agree with most of what you're saying, but you're kind of embarrassing us" vibe Moore gives me when it comes to Glenn Beck?

No, that's why they're winning.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:13 AM on May 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Because he was the leader of global military network that operated largely beyond the bounds and capabilities of the American criminal justice system. Because his attacks, the likehood of the future attacks, posed a direct threat to the security of the United States. Because the attacks we so devastating that a choice had to be made to prevent future attacks by defeating or weakening him.

Bush was the leader of a global military network that operated entirely beyond the bounds and capabilities of the Iraqi criminal justice system. His attacks not merely threatened but destroyed the security of Iraq - in addition to killing dozens of times more civilians than bin Laden did.

Is Iraq justified in assassinating him?
posted by Trurl at 11:15 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Commander-in-Chief is a legitimate military target, sure. It's also an act of war; of course, in both instances, war was already declared. What's your point?
posted by spaltavian at 11:18 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm having a hard time with this being among the list of most regrettable developments since 9/11.

Who's claiming that it is?

So by default the possession of a human genome gives one a moral protection not inherent to even the most evolved mammal or primate? That seems nuts.

ORLY? It seems there are probably a lot of people who would disagree with you. Interesting debate to be sure, but right to life isn't exactly a new concept nor has it historically been considered "nuts."
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:18 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, cumulatively, over time, America has behaved better (to my estimation) than many other nations with regard to rights for its citizens, due process etc ... but to suggest that this is some kind of collective moral triumph is, frankly, naive.

I certainly felt this way for the first half of my life, but that was before I really started looking into what we did to the American Indian.

Hitler killed six million Jews, roughly a third of the Jews in the world at that time, I'm told.

The initial population of Indians in what is now the US has been variously estimated at up to 14 million (I'd love to see an authoritative, credible source for this or a better estimate), and by the 1890s there were supposedly about 250,000 left. More than 95% had been wiped out, in other words-- mission of genocide accomplished.

Disease was a major proximate cause of this, of course, probably mainly smallpox, but as many surviving documents attest (the earliest I know of are letters written by William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts who died in 1657) there was a continuing deliberate effort to spread smallpox among the Indians precisely in order to exterminate them (Bradford did it with smallpox infested blankets).

Nor are our best days necessarily behind us.

Global Warming will probably kill billions and reduce the carrying capacity of the planet by billions.

America is not only the greatest contributor to the rise of carbon dioxide we have seen so far, it has been the primary vector for the global spread of the ideological disease which is directly responsible for all that carbon dioxide.

Capitalism.
posted by jamjam at 11:24 AM on May 13, 2011


Dragging it out over years, giving him a forum where he can be more visible than he has been in a decade, and dragging families through the spectacle of a trial is really what people are asking for when they wring their hands and express ambivalence over this outcome. Your need to express your sadness that he was executed holds no more moral weight or significance than the opinion that killing him was justified.

To paraphrase some Irishman:

We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

good times, good times
posted by Trochanter at 11:30 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hitler killed six million Jews, roughly a third of the Jews in the world at that time, I'm told.

The initial population of Indians in what is now the US has been variously estimated at up to 14 million (I'd love to see an authoritative, credible source for this or a better estimate), and by the 1890s there were supposedly about 250,000 left. More than 95% had been wiped out, in other words-- mission of genocide accomplished.


And as I remember - in Mein Kapf Hitler admitted the American Indian treatment was a model to be admired. My memory of his approval in using biological warfare via small pox blankets seem to lack official US paperwork that ties biologicals to such an event.

(and just to out godwin THAT topic - Wiping out the Indian was Christian Bible approved via verses about wiping out the natives of land you take.)
posted by rough ashlar at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2011


Who's claiming that it is?

No one I guess. I'm just not terribly concerned that he didn't get due process keeping in mind what the US has considered due process for its enemies in the War on Terror to date. To me that's a much bigger concern in itself than bin Laden's particular example.
posted by Hoopo at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2011


The Commander-in-Chief is a legitimate military target, sure. It's also an act of war; of course, in both instances, war was already declared. What's your point?

So let's say we capture the Iraqi special-forces commando who shot Bush through the eye after putting a round in Laura's leg.

He shouldn't be tried for murder. He should simply be imprisoned as a POW under the full protection of the Geneva Convention.

Do I have this right?
posted by Trurl at 11:39 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley: If people don't want to hear something, you're best off not saying it. Then there's no chance they'll confront it. Sure, you admit that there's "some logic to it," but you have to think of the wider picture

That's a distorted interpretation of what I wrote. My point was that it's counter-productive for Chomsky to launch into a "George Bush is a war criminal" tirade when the original point he was trying to make is that America has violated its own supposed principles by assassinating OBL. They're separate issues, and convoluting them is counter-productive because it causes conservatives and moderates to dismiss him as a fringe nutcase, whereas some common ground might be found with the original message.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:41 AM on May 13, 2011


Americans: we roll different
posted by clavdivs at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2011


WTF MIKE!
posted by clavdivs at 11:53 AM on May 13, 2011


I witnessed a frat boy-style party going on, complete with the shaking and spraying of champagne bottles over the crowd.

I was disturbed by this as well. Many of the celebrants were in grade school on Sept. 11, 2001; it struck me as unseemly that they were out celebrating like drunken sports fans after a big win.
posted by Mister_A at 12:00 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So let's say we capture the Iraqi special-forces commando who shot Bush through the eye after putting a round in Laura's leg.

He shouldn't be tried for murder. He should simply be imprisoned as a POW under the full protection of the Geneva Convention.

Do I have this right?


Yes.

I don't really see what you're going after, here. Yes, it is perfectly possible for a person to believe that the Geneva Convention rules of warfare should apply equally to both sides in a war. Yes, even if one of those sides is mine. Is that really so strange to you?
posted by mstokes650 at 12:15 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is that really so strange to you?

I just hope you'll agree with me that the American public in general probably wouldn't see it that way.
posted by Trurl at 12:44 PM on May 13, 2011


I just hope you'll agree with me that the American public in general probably wouldn't see it that way.

Actually, I believe the fact that "the American public in general probably wouldn't see it that way" is precisely the problem that Michael Moore is pointing to.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:47 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I will point out that, during the American Civil War, a Confederate cell headed up by John Wilkes Booth plotted to kidnap the Union's commander-in-chief. (The assassination plot came later.) So, the idea of viewing a head of state as a legitimate target is not without precedence in American history.
posted by SPrintF at 1:05 PM on May 13, 2011


Dragging it out over years, giving him a forum where he can be more visible than he has been in a decade, and dragging families through the spectacle of a trial [...]

As opposed to starting two gigantic landwars lasting 10 years and making his actions the focus of our nation's foreign policy for the previous ten and next ten (at least) years, costing at least a trillion dollars? And as opposed to the round-the-clock worldwide news coverage of his death? And as opposed to creating the Department of Homeland Security and changing the national balance of security vs. civil liberties in the most significant way since the First World War?

Yeah, a trial would probably be too much of a big deal. If we kill him, it'll be like nothing happened.
posted by facetious at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, do conservatives tend to have the "I agree with most of what you're saying, but you're kind of embarrassing us" vibe Moore gives me when it comes to Glenn Beck?

To compare Michael Moore to Glenn Beck is pretty ridiculous, though perhaps not so surprising, considering the way the right-wing viewpoint dominates U.S. media. Michael Moore's positions are not far from that of a mainstream Democrat. Glenn Beck? Really?

So by default the possession of a human genome gives one a moral protection not inherent to even the most evolved mammal or primate? That seems nuts.

Got milk? Or HIV? What are you getting at here?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2011


I was being facetious there.
posted by facetious at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2011


We knew that.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:12 PM on May 13, 2011


This must be why Obama didn't release the photos. Bin Laden was killed with dental floss.
posted by Xurando at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


One point he made I most assuredly agree with. I think it's...well, inappropriate to celebrate a death the way one might celebrate a Superbowl victory. It's a solemn thing to take someone's life, even if that someone was an evil sumbich.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:16 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Trurl: " And yet if anyone says that bin Laden had 5th Amendment protection against being deprived of life without due process,

Serious question: Did he enjoy that protection? He wasn't a US citizen. Is the US government obligated to protect his right to due process?
posted by zarq at 1:21 PM on May 13, 2011


Humanfront, I'm curious as to why you feel conflicted that you feel happiness over the death of a person who tried to kill you? When did we determine that it was symptomatic of devolution to not feel sadness at the death of another person who was demonstrably toxic to human existence?

I was raised on movie myths about cowboys. I think this film clip about sums it up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y07NENVxMRE
posted by humanfont at 1:22 PM on May 13, 2011


He wasn't a US citizen. Is the US government obligated to protect his right to due process? Is the US government obligated to protect his right to due process?

Yes.

nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law

But we're way past the point where it makes any difference what the law says. So let's just make a cold-blooded analysis of what lies in our national best interest...

The real problem, however, is that the West, which has constantly preached to the Arab world that legality and non-violence was the way forward in the Middle East, has taught a different lesson to the people of the region: that executing your opponents is perfectly acceptable.

The Arab world has no trouble recognizing an execution when it sees one - whatever Washington chooses to call it.
posted by Trurl at 1:38 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Osama bin Wankin'?
posted by chavenet at 1:46 PM on May 13, 2011


Reports from Abbottabad have said that bin Laden's compound was cut off from the Internet or other hard-wired communications networks. It is unclear how compound residents would have acquired the pornography.

Pornography without the internets? Unthinkable!
posted by Artw at 1:54 PM on May 13, 2011


Trurl: "Yes.

nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law


Yes, but the Constitution applies to those persons under and subject to the laws of the United States. Of which Bin Laden was not.
posted by zarq at 1:56 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian: "We did exactly what bin Laden said he wanted us to do

Bin Ladin wanted to start a war between the West and Islam, with himself as the military leader, overseeing all Islamic countries united together under his power. I mean, I get that our let's-give-up-liberty-because-we're-scared stuff is very, very stupid and bad, but bin Ladin didn't get what he wanted. He was a moron.
"

Depends on how you want to interpret it all: the first phase in theory was a Soviet style overextension of resources and downfall (after fighting in Afghanistan), so this isn't the war, it was a battlefront, and now that we've spent (and will continue to spend for an foreseeable future) hundreds of billions on war, well, you can see why they kind did get at least a little what they wanted, and just because Osama is dead doesn't mean the ideology is.
posted by symbioid at 1:57 PM on May 13, 2011


So, do conservatives tend to have the "I agree with most of what you're saying, but you're kind of embarrassing us" vibe Moore gives me when it comes to Glenn Beck?

Fucking seriously?

That analogy isn't remotely accurate. Glenn Beck makes shit up. Just flat-out invents news and history when it suits him. Right-wingers have been try to prove for years that Michael Moore does that and the best they've found is juxtaposed chronology in his films.

You agree with "most of what [he's] saying," so why is he embarrassing you? Because he's aggressive and self-congratulating? Name a well-known talking head that isn't. That's how you get heard.

Is it because he says things that you know are correct but also feel are unpalatable to moderates? As in some truths should only be mentioned in private to people you know to be sympathetic so that you don't cause swing voters to react badly and not vote with you? Does the left really need more dis-ingenuousness or cowardice? What do you get if you hold your tongue and try to subtlely slip corrections under the door of the popular narrative?

You get jack shit. Look where being restrained and willing to compromise has gotten the president.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:57 PM on May 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


giving him a forum where he can be more visible than he has been in a decade

If our system of laws and our culture are such fucking weak sauce that they can't stand up to any kind of scrutiny from a babbling mass murderer, then we really are just a bunch of mentally-disabled children that deserve to lose our rights.

Assassinating OBL and cheerleading about it are just more symptoms of the rot within, along with Iraq, Gitmo, the PATRIOT Act, electing Bush, going $10 billion into debt, and every other stupid, childish, naive mistake we've been making since 9-fucking-11.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:01 PM on May 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Mostly I don't like Moore because of that atrocious I'm-so-very-sad voice he puts on for about half the voiceover of his movies.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:01 PM on May 13, 2011


s/billion/trillion
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:02 PM on May 13, 2011


The act of resuscitating Hideki Tojo, only for him to be executed, might seem absurd and a waste of time, but the symbolism there is powerful. It makes a statement that says "we are the Good Guys. We will do the Right Thing, even when no one expects us to."

I don't see much mercy in resuscitating someone only to execute them. From my position this statement looks more like "We're gonna hurt you, if we have to nurse you back to health before we do it." I appreciate that at the time the Allies wanted to do things by the book for diplomatic reasons, but from Tojo's point of view a simple bullet in the head would've been a much less painful and probably more dignified way to go.

Right now, he could (I'm guessing) have Bin Laden alive and in custody. I know that would do little to convince the Taliban that America's motives are moral, but it might at least keep a few allies on side.

I keep seeing this insisted on by people who have no more idea than I do what the facts on the ground were and it keeps sounding as much like Monday morning quarterbacking as it did the first time I saw it. I don't know that this was so, YMMV. But even if there wasn't ever a plan to take him alive, I'm not convinced that there was any ethical obligation to do so. Bin Laden was a commander in the field of an organization of foreign belligerents at war with the US during (at the very least) a de facto war. I am unaware of any rule of just war that obligates his living capture at any cost. As far as I can tell, the mission satisfied its ethical obligations by restricting its objectives to Bin Laden and his compound and by making every effort to minimize the possibility of harm to surrounding non-combatants.

Yes.
"nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"

If your reading of the this is correct and this passage genuinely applies to anyone and everyone in the world, in any circumstance of war or peace, then shouldn't every combatant every US soldier has ever killed in battle have been taken alive instead and tried in a US court of law? I mean, if this is true, then killing Bin Laden is the least of our jurisprudential worries.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:04 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


So, are you guys at war or what?

I mean, technically, how does it work? And who are you actually at war with? Or is it just a bit of "counter-insurgency" work? Sorry, but my interest is piqued from the comments so far, and a lot of the issue seems to come down to this.

The problem with the trial is shurely that his lawyer will argue his client won't get a fair trial; where are you going to find 12 people who don't know about bin laden?

Also I would Multi-Favourite Blazecock's comment if I could.
posted by marienbad at 2:11 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe someone should have asked Bin Laden to give all of those people in the Twin Towers due process for their crimes.

Sorry, I feel nothing for this. Perhaps I should, but I don't. He was a bad man and he was shot dead. Good riddance. He didn't deserve a trial. Some situations call for action. How many Americans might have died trying to bring him in alive, anyway? A few more lives under his belt to be proud of! "Bin Laden took out two American Soldiers before they captured him!"

Can we just move on from this and focus on getting out of that country altogether?
posted by Malice at 2:11 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


If your reading of the this is correct and this passage genuinely applies to anyone and everyone in the world, in any circumstance of war or peace, then shouldn't every combatant every US soldier has ever killed in battle have been taken alive instead and tried in a US court of law?

bin Laden was not a combatant. He was a criminal.
posted by Trurl at 2:13 PM on May 13, 2011


How Bin Laden Won
posted by adamvasco at 2:17 PM on May 13, 2011


A guy in North Philly walked up to another guy last week and asked for his motorcycle keys. When he said no, the first guy shot him in the face and killed him. This got a paragraph in the metro section and was then forgotten.

So, all the frat-boy partying over OBL's death? Maybe because here in America, killing just isn't that big a deal.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:18 PM on May 13, 2011


Maybe someone should have asked Bin Laden to give all of those people in the Twin Towers due process for their crimes.

What? This makes no sense. If your standard is 'people who act with disregard for the law do not deserve due process,' then no one ever gets due process, because everyone who you're looking at is someone who has allegedly violated the law.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:19 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


bin Laden was not a combatant. He was a criminal.

He can't be both? What makes him different from the entire Japanese army or all the Confederates killed at Gettysburg?
posted by octobersurprise at 2:19 PM on May 13, 2011


Trurl: " bin Laden was not a combatant. He was a criminal."

I'm not entirely sure this is accurate, either.

Prior to 9/11, we treated terrorists as criminals. They were read their Miranda rights, arrested and put on trial. Since 9/11, we have more frequently treated terrorists and potential terrorists as enemy combatants and held them indefinitely without respect for such niceties as a speedy jury trial. The only exception to this that I'm aware of was Richard Reid, the so-called Shoe Bomber.

Are we sure that there isn't legal precedent to allow the US to treat Bin Laden as an enemy combatant?
posted by zarq at 2:21 PM on May 13, 2011


Prior to 9/11, we treated terrorists as criminals. They were read their Miranda rights, arrested and put on trial.

No American laws were changed on 9/11.

Only how much Americans felt inconvenienced by them.
posted by Trurl at 2:25 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Prior to 9/11, we treated terrorists as criminals.

Prior to 9/11 you attempted to kill Bin Laden with a cruise missile.
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I'm sure it would have read him his rights or something if someone hadn't tipped him off)
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on May 13, 2011


You don't deal with criminals by shooting them with missiles?

Does the LAPD know this?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:38 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


“I thinks those SEALs did exactly what they should have done,” the senator from Massachusetts and 2004 presidential nominee said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And we need to shut up and move on about, you know, the realities of what happened in that building.”
posted by Trurl at 2:43 PM on May 13, 2011


Trurl: " No American laws were changed on 9/11."

Didn't say they did. However at that time we began holding people like Ali Kahlah al-Marri as enemy combatants, and his status was upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2008. So there has been at least one judicial ruling which applies that I'm aware of.
posted by zarq at 2:44 PM on May 13, 2011


He can't be both? What makes him different from the entire Japanese army or all the Confederates killed at Gettysburg?

tradition, honor, marching music, uniforms, a wide base of support and the hardest part, to surrender with a semblance of dignity.
posted by clavdivs at 2:45 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Artw: " Prior to 9/11 you attempted to kill Bin Laden with a cruise missile."

Okay, some terrorists.
posted by zarq at 2:45 PM on May 13, 2011


Reports from Abbottabad have said that bin Laden's compound was cut off from the Internet or other hard-wired communications networks. It is unclear how compound residents would have acquired the pornography.

And how he acquired George Bush's home movies is still a mystery (NSFW)...
posted by homunculus at 2:50 PM on May 13, 2011


Acey: The act of resuscitating Hideki Tojo, only for him to be executed, might seem absurd and a waste of time, but the symbolism there is powerful.

I'm sorry, but Tojo was saved and tried because he was the designated fall guy and he didn't have anything the Allies wanted. It was just a PR move.

Let's compare him with Shiro Ishii, the lead military researcher for Unit 731 a biological warfare unit in in Northeastern China.

They used human test subjects and performed "tests" like vivisections without anesthesia, injecting diseases directly into people, unattaching limbs and organs and reattaching them to other parts, and also putting live people in vacuum chambers.

Surely Ishii was tried and hung right alongside Tojo? No. The man was never tried, his research data deemed useful by the Allies. In fact, according to his Wiki article, he even continued doing research in Maryland after WW2.

For all your talk of symbolism, Ishii and the research done is arguably just as big of a symbol of the killing and cruelty of WW2 as Tojo. But he never faced any justice, not even from a gun.
posted by FJT at 2:51 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Greenwald:

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that what has provoked such rage at bin Laden as a supreme criminal isn't the unlawful killing of civilians, but rather the killing of Americans on U.S. soil. The way we treat our own war criminals and policies of mass civilian death from around the world -- and the way we so brazenly repudiate and even scorn the Nuremberg Principles we said we were establishing for the world -- leave little doubt about that.
posted by Trurl at 2:55 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Greenwald:
"It’s possible [the Nuremberg principles] weren’t applicable here; if [bin Laden] couldn’t be safely captured because of his attempted resistance, then capturing him wasn’t a reasonable possibility."
posted by octobersurprise at 3:04 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


if [bin Laden] couldn’t be safely captured because of his attempted resistance

---

US commandos were told to assume Osama bin Laden was wearing a suicide vest, and must be killed, unless he was naked when they found him, it has emerged. The assault team sent into his hideout would only have accepted surrender if they could be sure he had nothing hidden under his clothing, meaning his fate was sealed as soon as he was found in his bedclothes.

Wearing clothes in one's home ≠ attempting resistance
posted by Trurl at 3:08 PM on May 13, 2011


Jesus Christ, what a clusterfuck. Again, I should just (continue to) turn it all off and wait another month to try to piece together a real story of what fucking happened.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:19 PM on May 13, 2011


“They didn’t know if he had his finger on a button,” he said. “Think of all the things that are possible with someone who has killed 3,000 people.”

Unfortunately, because there was no trial, that statement will always have to be qualified with "allegedly."
posted by mrgrimm at 3:21 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


“They didn’t know if he had his finger on a button."

Sure we do.
posted by Trurl at 3:25 PM on May 13, 2011


US commandos were told to assume Osama bin Laden was wearing a suicide vest, and must be killed, unless he was naked when they found him, it has emerged. The assault team sent into his hideout would only have accepted surrender if they could be sure he had nothing hidden under his clothing, meaning his fate was sealed as soon as he was found in his bedclothes.

So, if this true, you're saying that they gave him more of a chance to get out alive than he ever gave his victims?

Anyway, you still haven't explained to me why declaring Bin Laden a criminal, taking him alive, and providing him with the fullest protection of the US justice system was the only ethical action here or why, if that's so, it doesn't apply equally to every other belligerent the US has encountered in war?
posted by octobersurprise at 3:33 PM on May 13, 2011


I've stated my position that bin Laden was not a belligerent encountered in war. It's clear that we're going to have to agree to disagree on that.

I would only point out that in any such war, both the Pentagon and the CIA office in 7 WTC would be legitimate miliitary targets.
posted by Trurl at 3:39 PM on May 13, 2011


Anyway, you still haven't explained to me why declaring Bin Laden a criminal, taking him alive, and providing him with the fullest protection of the US justice system was the only ethical action here or why, if that's so, it doesn't apply equally to every other belligerent the US has encountered in war?

Maybe because it's a make-believe war?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 3:44 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jonathan Schwarz has an excellent catch based on entries from Osama bin Laden's journal:
In one passage, Bin Laden wondered how many Americans would have to die in U.S. cities to force the U.S. government to withdraw from the Arab world. He concluded that it would require another mass murder on the scale of the Sept. 11 attacks to spur a reversal in U.S. policy, an official said.
So...it turns out bin Laden's real, private motivation was exactly the same as his stated public motivation: to stop U.S. intervention in the mideast.

posted by Trurl at 3:52 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've stated my position that bin Laden was not a belligerent encountered in war.

You've stated it, but you haven't explained why he couldn't be. Of course you're correct that the Pentagon is a legitimate military target and for the sake of argument I'll even concede that an urban intelligence office might possibly be considered a target, too. Feel free to argue Bin Laden's case for attacking those targets if you wish.

Maybe because it's a make-believe war?

By "make-believe" are you asserting that Bin Laden is not responsible for directing the September 11th attacks? Or are you asserting that a decade of hostilities in Afghanistan are imaginary?
posted by octobersurprise at 3:55 PM on May 13, 2011


You've stated it, but you haven't explained why he couldn't be.

Because the idea of a terrorist "declaring war" on the United States is a concept that didn't exist before 9/11.

It's something that the people in power made up to justify an action they wanted to take. Like the decision in Bush v. Gore.
posted by Trurl at 4:09 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


By "make-believe" are you asserting that Bin Laden is not responsible for directing the September 11th attacks? Or are you asserting that a decade of hostilities in Afghanistan are imaginary?

Of course not. It's a make-believe because we never declared war on another nation-state: it's a "war" against a nebulous concept.

Also, if tomorrow I declared a war against the US government, I certainly wouldn't expect them to assassinate me. FFS even Mcveigh got a trial.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:31 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


He didn't deserve a trial.

This is a very dangerous precedent to set. Note that Osama isn't the first case of targeted killing. Rule of law says he did deserve a trial.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:40 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The guys a Neuremburg got trials but then they also surrendered. Also the jury was a panel of judges, not just people pulled in off the street.

Also if OBL won, then he got a pretty terrible prize. Someone kills one of your sons in front of you, then shoots your wife and then puts two bullets in your head, what kind of prize is that. Oh right I forgot living as a prisoner in your own house for a decade watching some shitty old tv and shivering all winter waiting for some guy to come over with a USB stick with you mail and fresh porn.

The lunatic contest was won by W. Seriously he got to retire to Texas, play all the golf he wants and still has enough adoring fans in the GOP that he can conjure up an adoring crowd anytime he wants. He'll probably still be rolling round the golf course at 105. That is winning.
posted by humanfont at 4:42 PM on May 13, 2011


McVeigh was white.

Let's not mince words.
posted by Trurl at 4:42 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I usually agree with Moore on most issues, but on this one I'm torn. I believe in rule of law and due process, but the reality is the trial wouldn't have been a trial. There is zero chance he wouldn't have been found guilty. The end result would be exactly what it is now - a dead Bin Laden. And the logistics of this sham pre-decided trial, with its massive security, vilification of whatever poor sap lawyer ended up defending him, and endless stream of talking-head idiots on TV news and political grandstanding over the issue would have been a massive clusterfuck.
I know I'm being hypocritical and totally abandoning my ideals and conscience, but killing him on the spot was the better solution.
posted by rocket88 at 4:47 PM on May 13, 2011


Also if OBL won, then he got a pretty terrible prize. Someone kills one of your sons in front of you, then shoots your wife and then puts two bullets in your head, what kind of prize is that. Oh right I forgot living as a prisoner in your own house for a decade watching some shitty old tv and shivering all winter waiting for some guy to come over with a USB stick with you mail and fresh porn.

He got to watch us clusterfuck ourselves into the ground.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:48 PM on May 13, 2011


So, if this true, you're saying that they gave him more of a chance to get out alive than he ever gave his victims?


Normally international law doesn't operate on the same level as playground politics.

Anyway, you still haven't explained to me why declaring Bin Laden a criminal, taking him alive, and providing him with the fullest protection of the US justice system was the only ethical action here or why, if that's so, it doesn't apply equally to every other belligerent the US has encountered in war?

I guess the best answer to your question is another question. Why do we have a legal system at all? Normally we arrest criminals and put them on trial for their crimes. Why do we do this instead of just killing them outright? If you can answer this question then you will have answered your own question. The fact that this is even debatable in modern America is very telling of where this country is headed. I guess if torture is on the table for debate then so is assassination. What's next?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:48 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I know I'm being hypocritical and totally abandoning my ideals and conscience, but killing him on the spot was the better convenient solution.

Democracy and rule of law can get messy. If we ditch them when things get difficult, what's the point of even maintaining the pretense that we actually value them?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:50 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess if torture is on the table for debate then so is assassination.

One of the front page bloggers at Balloon Juice wrote this yesterday:

Glenn [Greenwald] beats the “ZOMG assassination of American citizens” drum with such vigor because he doesn’t want you to wrestle with the issues because if you do, his appeal to emotion will be revealed as just that. Nuance, people.

"Nuance".

That was a bad moment for me.
posted by Trurl at 4:59 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


if that's so, it doesn't apply equally to every other belligerent the US has encountered in war?

You mean like participants in the Nazi and Japanese regimes during WWII?

You mean like Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah?

You mean like Manuel Noriega?

You mean like Slobodan Milošević?

You mean like Timothy McVeigh?

You mean like Saddam Hussein?

You mean like Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal A. Ayyad, and Ahmad Ajaj?

You mean like Alyan Muhammad Ali al-Wa'eli, Samir Abduh Sa'id al-Maktawi, Abdulrab Muhammad Muhammad Ali al-Sayfi, and Bassam Abdullah bin Bushar al-Nahdi?

You mean like the Buffalo Six?

And many others.

We are not at war. There has been no war declared. What we are doing is occupying two countries, running an international chain of internment camps, and prosecuting "low intensity" operations across Africa, Arabia, and South Asia. Sounds more like maintaining an empire to me.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:18 PM on May 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Moore's exactly right.

No single event in recent memory (or more accurately, no response by the American people to an event) has made me more uncomfortable and confirmed my worst fears about America than this, not even the election of George W Bush.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:01 PM on May 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Flying a live OBL to JFK and handing him off to the New York Police Department would have been an unambiguously good thing. Imagine the bump Obama would have seen! It would have short circuited all that congressional meddling, too - as CiC the President calls the shots, and now here he is, in NYPD custody on American soil, not much anyone can do about it aside from put him in jail and start the criminal proceedings.

Maybe OBL's end can't be seen as a full "win" for him, but a martyr's death surely trumps spending the rest of his life as a common prisoner.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:35 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was just minding my own business, doing some light office work. Then I had to flee for my life. I don't have an empire, or any real money, just a mortgage. No one gave me a hundred million dollar trust fund and I still work every day. I have to deal with bills, taxes, budgets and bullshit. I found time to volunteer for the needy and advocate for the Palestinians. So anyway here I am, a decent person. And it didn't make a bit of difference to OBL. He was a psychopath. He had a fortune and power, much more than I will ever attain. This wasn't some poor brown guy seeking vengeance, this was a wealthy psychopath using his power and connections to try to murder me using some poor saps he sucked into his bullshit. Well now he's dead. I get to go back to email, office gossip, bills, life's stresses and taxes. Game over OBL, I won.
posted by humanfont at 7:09 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


He got to watch us clusterfuck ourselves into the ground.

Nah, he got a good punch at the right time, i.e. when the easily provoked idiots were in charge.

The plan to hijack airplanes was brilliant and lasted for, what, 2 hours, before people on the plane said "fuck this, we're fighting." And thus we still have a Capital Building.

We went into Afghanistan, chased the Taliban from office and set him scrambling into Pakistan. In 30 days or so.

Then we or rather the Bush administration got really stupid and went into Iraq and that's when things really went to hell. Score one for Osama, finally.

We are not at war. There has been no war declared.

Not exactly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:13 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


We are not at war. There has been no war declared. What we are doing is occupying two countries, running an international chain of internment camps, and prosecuting "low intensity" operations across Africa, Arabia, and South Asia. Sounds more like maintaining an empire to me.

Actually, OBL did declare war on the US. At least, as far as one in his position could. Question becomes how do you frame a a state of war legally against a non-state that is taking bomb-sized potshot at your buildings and subways and buses? Bit of a puzzler, that one. Practical answer is, I suppose, you don't, because you can't , so you just shoot where ever you think you need to.

At which, as you suggest, we've done a pretty poor job.

Saw a car this morning with two bumper stickers. One said Mothers for Obama. The other said End This War. Irony or what, ey?
posted by IndigoJones at 7:21 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


He had a fortune and power, much more than I will ever attain. This wasn't some poor brown guy seeking vengeance, this was a wealthy psychopath using his power and connections to try to murder me using some poor saps he sucked into his bullshit. Well now he's dead. I get to go back to email, office gossip, bills, life's stresses and taxes. Game over OBL, I won.

AND IT ONLY COST A TRILLION DOLLARS AND THE CONSTANT, GRATING EROSION OF YOUR CIVIL LIBERTIES. CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR VICTORY IN TWOT!

Question becomes how do you frame a a state of war legally against a non-state that is taking bomb-sized potshot at your buildings and subways and buses?

The simple answer to this is that you don't frame the war at all. Period. Full fucking stop. You send your super-duper seal team six in and arrest their asses in 2003 and end the stupid charade. No war. Frame it like it's a police action or something. Revenge really isn't worth 1 trillion plus dollars.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:41 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: ABSOLUTIST STATEMENT AND BLANKET DISMISSAL OF CONTRARY OPINIONS
posted by Neiltupper at 8:14 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: IT ONLY COST A TRILLION DOLLARS
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:42 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also the jury was a panel of judges, not just people pulled in off the street.

true, an allied one at that.

Hermann Goring, LOL, he was caught with half of Europes remaining Percodan in his suitcsae and ate an L-pill before the noose swung.
(which was THE conspricacy theory in the day)

Interesting, Hermann instructed the German drug companies to produce a wholly synthetic opiate that didn't need to rely on the poppy. The chemists came up with a drug that not only worked, but also lasted a long time.

I saw Mike eat a cheeseburger.

tie in the Afghan connection and we have a script.
humanfont, I'm off to The Torch!
posted by clavdivs at 8:55 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


AMERICA: A TRILLION IS LIKE A MONTHS PAY, DUDE.
posted by clavdivs at 8:56 PM on May 13, 2011


and yes, having my picture hanging in The Torch is my lifes goal.
TIA
posted by clavdivs at 8:59 PM on May 13, 2011


AElfwine Evenstar, war was declared. An AUMF is the exact same thing as a declaration of war. There is no such thing as a capital D Declaration of War, as far as the constitution of is concerned. We are, de jure and de facto at war, and there is nothing gray on this point. bin Laden was a combatant and a military target.

You mean like participants in the Nazi and Japanese regimes during WWII? ...

For fuck's sake, every single one of those examples is after the defeat and or surrender of their respective faction. The situations are not remotely comparable. Himmler in '46 gets a trial, not in '44.

The Pakistan raid was a military operation conducted against a military target of tactical and strategic significance, against the leader of a military organization that declared war on America and that America had declared war on in kind.
posted by spaltavian at 9:23 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


One point he made I most assuredly agree with. I think it's...well, inappropriate to celebrate a death the way one might celebrate a Superbowl victory. It's a solemn thing to take someone's life, even if that someone was an evil sumbich.

I wasn't privy to any huge street celebrations at my college, but certainly the mood was somewhere between "WE GOT HIM WE GOT HIM" and "U S A U S A". Beer was drunk and various things were smoked. My friends and I said a lot of stupid shit that had everything to do with the world seeming like a brighter place and nothing to do with moral or political implications of bin Laden's death.

On September 11, I was barely eleven years old, in the sixth grade. When you're that age, it's scary to be told that somebody mad at your country just killed a lot of people. I'd visited the World Trade Center with my grandfather (and I remember hearing about the Columbine shootings on the radio that day); I kept thinking about the view from the top, and what it would have been like to be up there and see an airplane coming your way. For a long while after that day I couldn't enter a room without imagining a plane ripping through it and killing everybody.

I can't remember what the United States was like before we went to war in Iraq. I'm pretty sure I was at my friend Chris's house when I found out war had begun, playing video games; I was at Chris's house years later when they announced Saddam's capture. For my entire adult life, war's just been the way things are. I find it difficult to imagine a war ever ending because I've never actually witnessed a war coming to an end.

Sometimes I argue politics with my father's family, which is pretty politically conservative, or with my friends, who are all varying shades of liberal. We trade digestible essays and viral videos. When it's time to vote we vote more-or-less straight Democrat, because usually it's them or the Republicans, and nobody trusts Republicans. This last year I plumb forgot to vote, because I don't follow local or state politics and so 2010 as a voting year just kind of passed me by.

There's a feeling of casual helplessness when it comes to participatory politics. The amount of effort it takes to really make a change in the system feels greater than what we're willing to put in. I joined the College Democrats for a semester my freshman year, but they spent most of their time trying to one-up each other and then getting drunk. I attended an antiwar protest and waved a sign and it felt like a costume party. Beat poets saying things that everybody in the audience already agreed with. It feels like I'd have to dedicate a part of my life to politics if I wanted to change anything and, at twenty, I'm not sure if I want to dedicate that.

It feels like a sporting event, it really does. We're the audience and nobody gives a shit about what we say and it's probable that we don't even understand the situation enough to say something meaningful anyway. So we root for the "good guys" and hope they don't keep sucking and hope politics doesn't make our lives much worse. We're spectators at most. I'm not saying that politics is a sporting event, and certainly not that it ought to be one, but that's what it feels like.

And bin Laden wasn't just the symbolic Number One Bad Guy. He was also the guy who scared the shit out of us when we were kids and made us feel like our homes weren't safe. Him being dead doesn't make us any safer, but there's still a part of me that wants to think that with him gone my safety blanket works again and all of the bad guys will go away now. There're some disturbing implications to how the country's reacting to this, my own reaction included, but that doesn't stop me from feeling weirdly optimistic about everything, even though I know this particular source of optimism is delusional.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:47 PM on May 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also Aelfwine your list omits Isiroku Yamamoto. He was the guy who planned another attack on the United States called, Pearl Harbor.
posted by humanfont at 5:58 AM on May 14, 2011


An AUMF is the exact same thing as a declaration of war.

A declaration of war is the means by which one country goes to war against another country. There is no country called 'those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.' That's why there was no Declaration of War issued. Because it's different.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:39 AM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's why there was no Declaration of War issued. Because it's different.

Yes, exactly. I wish people would start dealing with that instead of insisting of war has to be waged in the way it was before or otherwise it's illegal and a moral failing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:43 AM on May 14, 2011


A declaration of war is the means by which one country goes to war against another country.

Wrong. The constitution doesn't define a declaration of war. The constitution doesn't even mention such a thing; it simply says Congress does has the power "to declare war". That's exactly what an AUMF does; the language comes from the War Powers Act. There is not one iota of difference.

Your insistence that war can only be between two states with capitals and flags is laughably at odds with reality. The real world doesn't have neat little boxes that everything fits into exactly.
posted by spaltavian at 8:03 AM on May 14, 2011


Wrong. The constitution doesn't define a declaration of war.

You do understand, I hope, that not all words in the English language require definition in the American constitution to have actual international meaning.
posted by Hildegarde at 11:00 AM on May 14, 2011


Every person deserves a trial, to be judged by a jury of their peers, and so forth. To be blunt: if you don't believe in due process you are an enemy to freedom.

I run into difficulties with the application of this statement when you have a situation where the 'target' is being defended by armed bodyguards/soldiers - even if the target himself is completely unarmed.

So presumably, you have to at least risk killing, if not kill the guards to get through, to capture the target alive. But don't the guards deserve a trial at least as much as the target?

The setup where someone can defend themselves with armed people (who, even if they're on the 'wrong' side, are surely not nearly as evil as the big bad guy) who must be deprived of their own right to a trial (by being killed by the 'good guys' to get to the big bad guy) and then still have any claim that that trial which he denied his guards, he should have, because he kept all his 'arms' on other people's bodies, that just doesn't make sense to me. Why should we be willing to kill the guards but not the one who's paying the guards, if the right to a trial is so important?

The moral superiority of denying 'less-bad' enemies the right to a trial in order to take the 'more-bad' person alive so that he can be tried just isn't so obvious to me.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:44 AM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wrong. The constitution doesn't define a declaration of war.

You're right. But the Hague Convention of 1907 does, to which the US is a signatory.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:10 PM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


There has been no war declared

correct, except for OLB declared war on me in the 1990s, if your an american Aelfy, you too. Now alot of these groups have done so, you know this, does mean we declare war or eve send a few CM's. But a declaration he made. One end result was as humanfont said, running for his life.

The war is not clear. It does exist and has for more years then you may think. what is clear is that his declaration is failing, and if it rises further it will be met again with equal force,
thus the never ending cycle. But thats ok, I like a break in the daisy chain.
:)

A formal congressional Declaration of war is very serious business and is used when the country has been/had had war made upon them and the declaration to do so further. The Japanese did what they did, I understand that. But they openly waged war and then formally declared so.
posted by clavdivs at 1:07 PM on May 14, 2011


does mean we declare war or eve send a few CM's
WTF clav
"It does not mean we declare war or even send a few cruise miss-Isles."
my thung, can fee ma thung
posted by clavdivs at 1:13 PM on May 14, 2011


Sure, I would have preferred to see UBL taken alive and tried in a civilian court of law. Ideally the last and lasting images of UBL should have been of him in an orange jumpsuit, in handcuffs, being confronted by the evidence of his crimes, and the testimony of his victims. His unscripted, courtroom rantings could have done wonders to undermine his legitimacy and cause. Fittingly, there would have been days when news of this mass-murdering egomaniac's trial would become so mundane as to follow local news about the weather, celebrities in rehab, or YouTube videos of adorable animals. And the final word on that man's fate should have been delivered from a foreman of the jury in Manhattan, preferably in a thick Bronx accent.

Or at least it's nice and easy to imagine so. But let's not make perfect the enemy of good, or be completely blind to the possibility that it might actually be better the way it worked out.

It may even be, for all we know, that someone in Pakistan's government did give UBL up to the US on the express condition that he be killed (to avoid exposing their identify or the extent of their government's complicity in hiding UBL all these years). Who among us wouldn't have taken such a deal?

Besides, two weeks ago most of us would have found this an enviable position to be in: arguing about how this mass-murdering religious fanatic should ideally have met his end. Most people had long since given up any realistic hope of finding and killing UBL, yet alone capturing him.

And as ugly as I generally find the thought of rejoicing in any human being's death, I'll admit to indulging in a sense of relief that overlaps rather strongly with satisfaction. Most of this is the hope that his death can be used as an excuse to declare 'mission accomplished' and end the war in Afghanistan. But part of it is just being glad to be rid of the psychopath once and for all.
posted by Davenhill at 5:36 PM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seconding Moore's good riddance, though carousing over the death of OBL seems to me obscenely simpleminded.

I respect Michael Moore's work and admire his courage. I miss pre-Bush Klan America, a lot, and loathe what those creeps, the Bush-Cheney-Blackwater neo-con Right Wing Big Oil monsters with their Homeland Security henchmen did to the robust openness of the USA using OBL as a way to fear monger. Curious now what's ahead.
posted by nickyskye at 6:13 PM on May 14, 2011


You're right. But the Hague Convention of 1907 does, to which the US is a signatory.

Nope, still wrong. Firstly, the treaty only applies to conflicts between the signatories; so naturally the context is inter-state warfare. But even here, in a document from 1907 when the great powers saw war as a Risk game between themselves, a document that should make your point for you, they still did not define war as something that can only happen between states. And it certainly doesn't ill-define it.

And they still did not say what a declaration of war must be called. It says there needs to be "previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum...". An AUMF does exactly that; it's explicit, previous, gave the reasons for the move and most importantly, it declares the United States is going to use violent military force against those listed- war.

Here are the first two articles:

Article 1
The Contracting Powers recognize that hostilities between themselves must not commence without previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war.

Article 2
The existence of a state of war must be notified to the neutral Powers without delay, and shall not take effect in regard to them until after the receipt of a notification, which may, however, be given by telegraph. Neutral Powers, nevertheless, cannot rely on the absence of notification if it is clearly established that they were in fact aware of the existence of a state of war.



Note that there is nothing saying what a "reasoned declaration of war" must be called, and rather that stating that it must be between states as you say, it simply states that hostilities between the signatories must follow the rules set forth.

There's a pointed lack of the word "state" or "country", choosing instead the more opened ended "Power". Again, it wouldn't matter if they did say state, because the article clearly is not defining war, but laying out how the rules would work between the states that are signing. (Finally, in arguing your point, you have insisted that wars are between "nations". "Nations" are not states, but groups of people with a common identity. The possibility of war between nations would bolster my point, not your own, so stick with "state".)

You do understand, I hope, that not all words in the English language require definition in the American constitution to have actual international meaning.

While hilarious, your snark is kind of off the mark given that the argument you jumped into was about what constitutes a declaration of war in an American legislative context. But, for the record, neither the dictionary nor the political science definition insist on a war being between two states, or what a declaration of war would be. Political scientists usually just call something a war if it involves organized violence with at least 1,000 battle deaths.
posted by spaltavian at 11:38 PM on May 14, 2011


I run into difficulties with the application of this statement when you have a situation where the 'target' is being defended by armed bodyguards/soldiers

Has this been confirmed?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:57 AM on May 16, 2011


I'm curious; for those who believe that declared war requires opposing nations, how do you reconcile that with the concept of "civil war"? Can there be such a thing, or do they then automatically become relegated to "uprisings," or some similar phrasing? Or does the rebelling faction somehow get recognized as a separate nation-state in order to elevate the conflict to war (surely not by the nation with which it's in conflict)?
posted by notashroom at 12:41 PM on May 16, 2011


Declaration of War and the AUMF are not the same thing. Both have been used numerous times in American History and in different contexts. Here is some interesting reading for you. You will notice that before WWII AUMF's were used specifically to battle piracy on the high seas. Given our founding fathers views on war and standing armies it is understandable they were loathe to declare war. In fact it is clear from the texts of the various AUMFs that even though another party had "commenced a predatory warfare against the United States" they were not willing to declare that a state of war existed. The original use of the AUMF was to protect U.S. interests while at the same time preventing the necessity of an all out war.

Contrast this with the actual declarations of war. In each of them the text states that a "state of war exists" between the respective parties. Each then provides evidence backing up that assertion and gives the president free reign to prosecute the war as he sees fit using all military forces at his disposal. This is in stark contrast to the AUMFs which strictly limit the types of forces to be used and the manner in which they are to be used.

After WWII this has changed. Now we use AUMFs to wage war against groups of people that do not hold the same ideology as us. The AUMF in Afghanistan and also the one for Iraq are heinous and immoral because they authorize the president to invade countries that have not attacked us. It is also revealing that after WWII we have not formally declared war because a preexisting state of war has not existed with any other nation since WWII. The reason for this is clear; we have been the aggressor nation in every instance.

All of this is really moot, though, as various presidents of the United States have on some 125 occasions engaged in military action undeclared or unauthorized by congress. A perfect example of this is the Philippine–American War or our various adventures in Nicaragua. It is clear that war can and does happen whether it is formally declared or not. The point is that we have not formally declared war because, as I stated above, there was no preexisting state of war with any of the countries we have invaded since 911. We are the aggressors and we have killed millions of people trying to bring to justice the people responsible for the 3000 deaths on 911. Now OBL is dead and we are seemingly no closer to achieving our goal than when we first started invading countries. Something is seriously fucked up if anyone thinks that this is an acceptable situation in which we currently find ourselves; murdering our way to a national security.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:25 PM on May 16, 2011


In fact it is clear from the texts of the various AUMFs that even though another party had "commenced a predatory warfare against the United States" they were not willing to declare that a state of war existed.

The organized use of armed force against another armed force is a state of war. Your argument is a ridiculous tautology.

All of your points about the morality of American actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere are irrelevant to this issue.

is also revealing that after WWII we have not formally declared war because a preexisting state of war has not existed with any other nation since WWII.

Circular logic usually is rarely this bare. Want to try that again?
posted by spaltavian at 7:36 AM on May 17, 2011


Your argument is a ridiculous tautology.

Then why the different wording? Why didn't we just declare war against the Barbary pirates? It is clear from the texts that there is a difference between an AUMF and a formal declaration of war. In fact the paper I linked to says as much if you read it. So you don't have to take my word for it.

Traditionally, peace and war have been deemed under international law to be distinctive forms of relations between states. Thus, peace has been defined as:

"a condition in which States maintain order and justice, solve their problems by cooperation, and eliminate violence. It is a condition in which States respect each other’s sovereignty and equality, refrain from intervention and the threat or use of force and cooperate with one another in accordance with the treaties which they have concluded."

War, in contrast, has been described as “a condition of armed hostility between States,” “a contention, through the use of armed force, between states, undertaken for the purpose of overpowering another.” War has been said to terminate or suspend the laws and customs that prevail in peacetime and to substitute for them the laws of war. Under the traditional laws of war enemy combatants can be killed, prisoners of war taken, the enemy’s property seized or destroyed, enemy aliens interned, and other measures necessary to subdue the enemy and impose the will of the warring state taken. Moreover, the existence of a state of war traditionally has been deemed to terminate diplomatic and commercial relations and most of the treaty obligations existing between the warring States. A state of war also has brought into play the law of neutrality with respect to relations between the belligerent and non-belligerent States.

In this traditional understanding a declaration of war has been deemed, in and of itself, to have the effect of creating a state of war and changing the relationship between the states involved from one of peace to one of war. That has been the case even if no hostilities actually occur. Some question exists as to whether international law traditionally deemed a declaration of war to be a necessary prerequisite to the existence of a state of war; but it is clear that under international law a declaration of war has been viewed as “creating the legal status of war ... [and giving] evidence that peace has been transmuted into war, and that the law of war has replaced the law of peace.”

Authorizations for the use of force, in contrast, have not been seen as automatically creating a state of war under international law. The U.S. Court of Claims, in construing the statutes authorizing the limited use of force against France in 1798, described how their effects differed from those that followed in the wake of a war:

"[Our naval vessels] might seize armed vessels only, and only those armed vessels which had already committed depredations, or those which were on our coast for the purpose of committing depredations, and they might retake an American vessel captured by such an armed vessel. This statute is a fair illustration of the class of laws enacted at this time; they directed suspension of commercial relations until the end of the next session of Congress, not indefinitely ...; they gave power to the President to apprehend the subjects of hostile nations whenever he should make “public proclamation” of war ..., and no such proclamation was made; they gave him authority to instruct our armed vessels to seize French “armed,” not merchant, vessels ..., together with contingent authority to augment the army in case war should break out or in case of imminent danger of invasion .... If war existed, why authorize our armed vessels to seize French armed vessels? War itself gave that right, as well as the right to seize merchantmen which the statutes did not permit. If war existed why empower the President to apprehend foreign enemies? War itself placed that duty upon him as a necessary and inherent incident of military command. Why, if there was war, should a suspension of commercial intercourse be authorized, for what more complete suspension of that intercourse could there be than the very fact of war? There was no declaration of war; the tribunals of each country were open to the other—an impossibility were war in progress; diplomatic and commercial intercourse were admittedly suspended; but during many years there was no intercourse between England and Mexico, which were not at war; there was retaliation and reprisal, but such retaliations and reprisals have often occurred between nations at peace; there was a near approach to war, but at no time was one of the nations turned into an enemy of the other in such manner that every citizen of the one became the enemy of every citizen of the other; finally, there as not that kind of war which abrogated treaties and wiped out, at least temporarily, all pending rights and contracts, individual and national."

Whether this traditional understanding of war and of the effect of a declaration of war continues to be viable is a matter of considerable dispute among scholars.
(pg. 20-22)

Notice that part I bolded in the last sentence? It is clear that the founding fathers, at least, differentiated between the two. Your insistence that they are the same thing is clearly false. I will grant you that there are military actions going on and that the usage of a AUMF vs a formal declaration have evolved over time, but whether the current AUMFs constitute a legal state of war is very much in doubt. Of course this is a point of contention. I highly suggest you read the paper I have linked it is very informative. After reading it I have changed my view somewhat.

Circular logic

Historically declarations of war have been used when there has been a demonstrable preexisting state of war. After WWII this has not been the case. Vietnam? Gulf War I? In both of these examples there was no preexisting state of war between the U.S. and the target of our aggression. Unless you can come up with some other logical reason why we did not formally declare war against North Vietnam or Iraq.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:28 AM on May 17, 2011


In the context of this discussion, it's worth reading the paragraphs that follow, too, especially the concluding paragraphs on pages 23-24:
"States likely still retain a right to issue declarations of war, at least in exercising the right of self-defense; and such a declaration seemingly would still automatically create a state of war. But it is not clear that the legal consequences under international law that would flow from a declaration differ dramatically from those that occur if an armed conflict comes into being pursuant to an authorization for the use of force [italics mine]."
The gist of the paper as it's relevant to the topic here is, as I see from a quick reading, is that regardless of whether war is made by an explicit declaration, or by an authorization for the use of force, there's very little difference in the way the armed conflict that follows can be conducted on the battlefield:
" ... conventions that attempt to regulate the means used to wage war, such as the Hague Conventions and other more recent agreements, and those that attempt to ameliorate the consequences of war for certain categories of persons, such as the Geneva Conventions, are deemed to apply to armed conflicts regardless of what label the Parties attach to them. A state of war still gives rise to “a mutual right to kill in battle,” triggers application of the various conventions regulating the means of waging war as well as of the general principles of necessity and proportionality, and brings into play the Geneva Conventions. (pg. 23)"
So, while your citation does make the case that there are historical, procedural, and probably legal distinctions between a "declaration of war" and an "authorization for the use of force," it doesn't make the case (as far as I can see) that the the absence of an explicitly worded declaration of war makes the armed conflict in Afghanistan a "make-believe war," or that Bin Laden is less of a legitimate target in such a conflict, or that the US is morally obligated to take the Al-Qaeda commander alive.

Now, I think that "the general principles of necessity and proportionality" would make it illegal and immoral for the US to "declare war" or "authorize the use of force" against, say, Timothy McVeigh, or you, or me. I suppose you can try to argue that those same principles forbid making war against Al-Qaeda as well, but you'll need to make that argument, not assume it as a given.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:02 PM on May 17, 2011


there's very little difference in the way the armed conflict that follows can be conducted on the battlefield:

Except when congress, like they did in all of the AUMFs before WWII, specifically limits the forces and means by which those forces prosecute the military action.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:07 PM on May 20, 2011


Death of the War Powers Act?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:07 PM on May 20, 2011


Except when congress, like they did in all of the AUMFs before WWII, specifically limits the forces and means by which those forces prosecute the military action.

This means nothing. Congress could put those exact same limitations in any authorization or declaration it makes.
posted by spaltavian at 5:26 AM on May 23, 2011


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