Monday, May 2, 2011
Out of the several bizarre responses to the killing of Osama bin Laden in the press, Twitterville, Facebook, and numerous comments sections on the Internet, here's a fairly common sentiment from Twitter:
Why celebrate the death of a man when no body bothered to mourn the millions of Afghans and Iraqis we've killed in the process?
While all civilian casualties of war are numerous and regrettable, the number is hardly "millions". The estimated number in Iraq approaches 125,000.
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2010 totaled 9,759. Most of these casualties, 6,269 of them, were caused by Taliban suicide bombings and other anti-govt actions.
On mourning these deaths, I refer the questioner to Google.
Over the coming weeks and months we, as a nation, will be reviewing the human cost of war and the strategies and tactics we have employed to bring criminal terrorists to justice. This has already started; the question highlighted here today is but one example of the many questions to be asked.
On Facebook last night, in the comments on the Al Jazeera report, there were numerous threats of revenge from angry individuals in the Middle East.
I saw people in the Middle East raging against us for invading Pakistan to kill Bin Laden. I thought of our busted treasury, the loss of life for many countries - including our own - and I thought of the unnecessary war we waged on Iraq.
A question occurred to me last night that has never occurred to me before. Bin Laden is responsible for thousands of deaths since 1993, including those of his own countrymen and fellow Muslims. Why has he been protected all these years?
If Afghanistan and Pakistan had sought out and prosecuted Bin Laden for his crimes, we would not have engaged in military tactics to extract justice for our victims. Instead, he would have been tried and either imprisoned or sentenced to death. For nearly a decade, all our treasury and all the deaths of soldiers and citizens of many countries could have been spared if the Middle East had been responsible world citizens.
So, hey, all you Bin Laden supporters at Al Jazeera: do you really think the United States would not seek justice? Why did your government sit by while your people died, protecting Bin Laden? Tell your fellow religious warriors that maybe they should wage their next jihad against a country with a few less billions of dollars, less friends and a much, much smaller army.
As fate would have it, the next thing I clicked on in my rounds was a newspaper article in the Guardian, dated October 15, 2001, entitled Bush rejects Taliban offer to surrender bin Laden.
Mr Kabir said: "If America were to step back from the current policy, then we could negotiate." Mr bin Laden could be handed over to a third country for trial, he said. "We could discuss which third country."
But as American warplanes entered the second week of the bombing campaign, Washington rejected the Taliban offer out of hand. "When I said no negotiations I meant no negotiations," Mr Bush said. "We know he's guilty. Turn him over. There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt."
Was Mr. Kabir's offer reasonable?
From a future perspective, all considered, yes, quite.
Why, since October 15, 2001, has there been US media silence in the USA about Kabir's offer? (This is a rhetorical question.)
The next thing I ran across was a Facebook page full of Republicans praising Bush and minimizing President Obama's involvement in bringing Bin Laden to justice.
I'd like to take a moment to thank Bush, myself. For being "the decider" and "not negotiating". For declaring "mission accomplished" 8 years ago to the day. I'd like to thank him for bankrupting America with two unnecessary wars, unwanted, unfunded tax breaks to Fortune 400 corporations, a donut hole for our seniors, and No Child Left Behind, which, never funded, put teachers on furloughs, raised property taxes for us all, and changed the focus of education to one where teachers are mere test proctors and babysitters.
I celebrate the death of Bin Laden, and mourn every lost life. I mourn for our country. May we all learn from the events of the last decade and move forward. This will only happen if we start asking the difficult questions.