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Monday, May 2, 2011

Death of a terrorist, and of others

     Other bloggers are beginning to post photos and videos of celebrations in the US following the death of Osama Bin Ladin. I feel compelled, somehow, to comment on those celebrations. I am no longer in the habit of making such comments, and have never made them in a public forum such as this (we didn't have the Internet during Viet Nam) but there are questions bothering me today.

     I must say I'm glad they finally got him, although I wish he'd been captured alive and made to face an international court for his war crimes. I remember the horror and the heartache of September 11, 2001. No one in North America can forget it.
     Still, my somewhat stuffy Canadian self draws the line at cheering and partying because of someone's death. Other people died there in that mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan, including a woman being used as a human shield  by one of Osama Bin Ladin's men. We can hardly celebrate that.
     Contrarily, I also wish the CIA, the Navy Seals, or a similar organization had done the same thing in Iraq, just gone in and killed Saddam Hussein, perhaps making the war unnecessary.
     Twice as many Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan as died in 9/11. According to internet sources, 4452 Americans have died in Iraq alone since 2003, with another 1566 in Afghanistan. Many, many more have been injured. The numbers could be higher. The sources could be out of date.
Wikipedia photo
     Canada has lost 155 military personnel in Afghanistan since 2002, according to a report today by CTV. Some might say "only 155" but that leaves 155 families bereft, and that's no small number, given Canada's small population.
     Yes, Canada lost far, far more people in one day in Dieppe in World War II, from a then-much-smaller population, but was Osama Bin Ladin comparable to Hitler? Was Saddam Hussein? The comparative scope of their crimes might never be measured successfully. Time might tell, however.
     My niece asked me this morning why it had been necessary to kill Bin Ladin instead of capturing him. I haven't heard an explanation yet, but I reasoned it thus: If he were still alive, his followers in Al Qaeda would have moved mountains to save him, and now they are leaderless.
     On the other hand, there is already talk of retaliation by members of the terrorist group. Will they be able to act cohesively without Bin Ladin at the helm? Time, again, might tell. I hope they feel that, as a group, they are rudderless. I hope they put down their weapons and go home to their families. However (and there is always a 'however'), who will, physically or figuratively, pick up those weapons? Will there always be an Al Qaeda, or a group like it?
     Is this the reality of the 21st century? Will the young men and women of the US, Canada, and other coalition countries have to remain in Afghanistan or can they come home to their families—and to us?
  

15 comments:

Kathe W. said...

amen sister-

Margaret said...

Honestly, it NEVER makes any sense, does it?

Powell River Books said...

We live in troubling times, but maybe it has always been so - just different difficulties in different times. - Margy

Gattina said...

I agree with you to 200 % if that is possible ! and these numbers don't show all the once who died afterwards of their injuries.
I am happy that we both think the same !

Fran said...

Well said. I grieve every time they bring home the body of a young soldier. I work with these young lads and it's bad enough for me, I cannot imagine what their mothers go through.

jabblog said...

Hear, hear, Kay.

Mara said...

I've got a feeling there will be quite a few people who will now think the whole war is over and I have to pity them, because it will never be over. As long as people will want to take revenge, there will be a war on terrorism.

I do agree with one thing though: giving him a seaman's grave, so the place of burial cannot be turned into a shrine!

Gary said...

Not to underplay terrorism, I think in many ways the celebration feeds a purient right wing sentiment in the US, and avoids some very basic questions such as why couldn't the CIA find him earlier, especially since he was right next door. In fact I think it just points out the absolute failure of Am. Intelligence which lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, failed to forecast the fall of the Soviets, over estimated the power of the Soviet military, or the fall of the Berlin wall for that matter. And yet billons are spent every year on it.I think we and the US need to watch intelligence organizatiopns very closely as they are self fullfilling organizations that may accomplish very little, and indeed mislead us. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Carver said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Thoughtful post which expresses how I feel about it much better than I can express myself.

Reader Wil said...

As I said in my post about Ben Laden, I am relieved that he is dead, but I cannot celebrate the death of an enemy like one celebrates the Royal Wedding. It's a kind of mixed feeling. I am sad over this wasted life that has created hatred and fear for many years. His death had to happen however.

Kay said...

I was also disturbed by the news clips of people chanting and celebrating. I have a post in queue on this subject. I've been thinking about how to state my feelings, but you've done it better than me in this post. I'm glad that evil man is gone, but there's more to take up his mad cause.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Very well thought out and well- written Kay. (I'm a little biased as I agree with all your points.) Perhaps you should put an "op-ed" post more often, for those of us who aren't articulate enough to do so!

Francisca said...

"Will there always be an Al Qaeda, or a group like it?" Yes, so long as the global community (read: the rich nations) does not internalize and act upon the basic principle that when people are deprived of hope, they will fight. Survival with dignity is, and has always been, the motivating factor for wanton violence and hatred in the world. Desperation leads to desperate means.

Clint said...

Well said, Kay!
...the older of your two younger brothers

Kay L. Davies said...

@ Clint — thank you, dear, a compliment from you means a lot!
Luv, K