Murder is Still Murder

It now appears, from “clarifications,” that the President of the United States gave the green light for the murder of another human being, if he didn't actually order it.

It is impossible to believe that Osama bin Laden would have been capable of making enough “threatening gestures” to invite homicidal retaliation from a heavily armed US Navy SEAL, probably wearing night-vision gear in what can be assumed to be total darkness at 2:20 am. It is questionable if Osama even saw the man who killed him, let alone threatened him.

This is a disgraceful and despicable act that has tarnished the image and principles of the United States, no matter Osama's crimes. It is a violation of the principles enshrined in the United States Constitution and the rule of law. It is at one with the attempt to murder Libyan dictator Muammar Ghadaffi in the current struggle for that country.

It may be argued that those principles are often more fiction than fact. Certainly, the United States stood by without interfering in the murder of South Vietnam leader Ngo Dinh Diem by his own troops in 1963. It helped to foment the 1973 coup that ousted Chile's democratically elected President Salvador Allende, who was either murdered or committed suicide. The CIA actively participated, at the request of the British MI6, in the coup that ousted the Iranian leader Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1954 over his nationalization of Iranian oil fields.

But the murder of a defenseless man, no matter what his crimes, when he could easily have been taken captive, is unacceptable. If democratic nations start to emulate the murders committed by jihadis, they are no better than those who flew the airplanes into the World Trade Towers and bombed the nightclubs of Bali.

It may be true that losers are denied both the spoils of war and a fair trial. But in the wake of World War II, Nazi leaders responsible for far worse crimes against humanity were put on trial at Nuremburg for war crimes. Ten of the top 24 Nazi leaders were hanged – and crucially, some were acquitted. In Japan, the Allied powers held trials that resulted in the execution of 920 Japanese combatants – and the acquittal of 1,018.

It may be argued that the evidence against Osama bin Laden would have resulted in his execution and thus there was no need to try him. That is specious nonsense.

As with the Germans at Nuremburg and the Japanese at Tokyo, an important principle has been ignored, and that is the use of a court of law for the purpose of illuminating for the general public the nature of the crimes committed against humanity.

The baying of the crowds in New York and Washington, DC over Osama's death, I am sad to say, represents what the United States has become. It has ceased to be the United States of Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Lincoln and become the United States of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush. What is sad and astonishing is that Barack H. Obama, a Chicago liberal and Democrat, a so-called transformational figure, has become part of the crowd.

Osama bin Laden should have been in The Hague standing trial for crimes against humanity instead of at the bottom of the Arabian Sea.

If this is American exceptionalism, America is welcome to it. Superman, it is said, has given up his American citizenship.