I’ll be honest. I try to be as pacifist as possible, but on the first anniversary of Osama getting shot in the eye, he’ll get no sympathy from this small corner. Absolutely not. My feeling is that if you’re going to go to such lengths for the attainment of power, if you subjugate your people, if you commit war crimes, etc., well, I harbor no sympathy. Milosevic needed to die in prison, and did; I wish that Ghadafi, Saddam, and even Osama could’ve suffered the same fate. Here’s a neo-analogy: I’ve been alive long enough to remember Rudolf Hess imprisoned at Spandau—the only prisoner there, in fact, which has always struck me as odd although he could never have been allowed into any general population anywhere on Earth. My father, who served in the European theater in World War 2, was a daily news consumer; I wonder now whether that was in part because he wanted to see how the story ended—after all, he had a part to play in it, from liberating one of the smaller death camps (I tried all my life to drag the name from him, but no luck; he took that and much else to the grave with him) to pushing north toward Berlin, his unit finally hooking up inside Patton’s army only to be stopped by the Russian forces steamrolling toward their date with history (they forced Hitler’s end but committed utterly ghastly atrocities in the process—the stories of rape, for example, tend to dominate). He was proud of being part of what we now call the Greatest Generation, as was thoroughly appropriate. Whenever he saw a piece about Hess, he was sure to react instantly: “Aw, that sumbitch. Why don’t he jus’ die already?”
It wasn’t his time. He lived to be a very old, quite insane man.
You see, I wouldn’t support capital punishment even in the cases of these people. I believe in humane treatment across the board, because this is part of the measure of our growth as a human culture. However, Osama was not about to be taken alive. That had clearly been the plan all along. So when Seal Team Six landed, he and his family did whatever they could to protect the man they saw as their caliph, the title to which he always aspired.
So one of the team members popped a cap in his eye.
Had Osama surrendered, he would never have been killed. There were plans in place should he be captured, as we now know, but Osama had other ideas. He wasn’t about to endure a trial followed by execution, a cowardly and humiliating death to his mind, so in a sense he died as a result of suicide-by-soldier. To me, that was a cowardly act, but who expected anything else from a man like him?
I’ve heard right-wing pundits talk about Barack Obama’s use of bin Laden’s death in political terms; this of course is a laugh. Let’s just imagine for a moment the idea of George W. Bush had he been able to run on the strength of that “decision point.” What do you think that ad would look like? Come on. Let’s tell the truth here. A Dubya ad would call him everything but Christ. But Obama can’t get a break, which figures. The Repub.’s have been working on breaking him down since day one, which strikes me as un-American in overt and frightening ways. This has been their modus operandi, and I don’t want to think about the kind of incident that would in any way change their minds because it would be too calamitous to consider.
It would’ve been good if we’d captured him, sure, if only so he could become part of that wing of prisoners, with KSM and their companions; now, we haven’t yet jailed Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, so my long-dreamed of reality show would only be half-ready: see, you’d have al-Qaeda on one side and Bush/Cheney & Co. on the other, throwing feces at each other like monkeys for the rest of their lives.
They all deserve it.
Anyway, my feeling about this anniversary is simple: while I’d have rather had him surrender, I don’t mind for a moment the fact that some team member drew down on him and fired. Style points for shot selection, too. And we all know that person will never buy a beer in an on-base bar again. Never.
I’m a pacifist but pragmatic. I don’t go so far as to say “some people need to be keeled,” but there are some people who present no other options. Cornered, desperate, they never consider the value and virtue of surrender. Some just want to go out of this world in a hail of gunfire, for all its meaningless romance. That wasn’t Osama bin Laden. He saw himself sitting on a throne, half a god himself; he ended his days watching porn and drinking Avena syrup to keep up with the sexual needs of his wives. Oh yeah, and there was weed. But I’m not criticizing the weed.
He saw himself as the head of a world empire. He knew the Moorish architecture in Venice, for example, and wanted to replicate that degree of world power—with himself and no one else at the wheel. He ended with a bullet to the eye.
We live and die by the choices we make.