Should I feel good that Bin Laden is dead?

I am strongly opposed to the death penalty. It is a waste of time and money and isn’t justice. I strongly support the rule of law, due process, and the criminal court system. I seemed to throw all that out late Sunday evening when I learned that US Special Forces killed terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

I was concerned when the media started to ramp up coverage late Sunday evening for an unusal statement from President Obama about a publicly unknown topic. Such sudden statements either mean a military operation has occurred, there was a death of a significant figure, or a killer asteroid was about to snuff out civilization. None of those are really good news but the President surprised me. He announced that the terrorist Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a raid on a house in Pakistan by US Special Forces (reports say it was a Navy Seal team).

I fully support due process and the legal system but Bin Laden wouldn’t give up so his death is not a problem for me. He was either going to be dead in a shoot out or dead from old age in a dank dark prison and I am slightly happy about it. The man helped plan, fund, and execute terrorist activities including 9/11 that killed THOUSANDS.

But let me be clear I do NOT support an eye for an eye. I would have been just as happy if he was alive and in custody and on his way to Gitmo or wherever the government would put him.

I have never believed that the death of a criminal in response to the deaths of their victims is appropriate. I also disagree with any policy that would call for targeted killing of “bad guys”. I would like to think, short of evidence to the contrary, that President Obama authorized the capture of Bin Laden and that he forced the fire fight that in the end led to his death.

Sunday night, after the statement, the news channels showed crowds in DC and New York celebrating like their favorite team had won the World Cup. I understand the emotion but it was no better than the scenes on 9/11 of Palestinians dancing in their streets.

The death of Bin Laden wasn’t a victory or justice. It was an end to a chapter of our history. It was 10 years in the making.

I also have some friends who are a bit upset at the use of the military and the killing.

I have always been of the mind that sometimes use of the military is necessary. Using the legal system and police work should be the default but sometimes we have to deal with irrational assholes who don’t subscribe to law and order.

I thought the invasion of Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden was the right thing to do and the use of Special Forces to raid Bin Laden’s compound on Sunday without telling Pakistan was also correct. There have been a lot of questions about the Pakistani response to Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. For years it supported Bin Laden and the Taliban as a policy to keep India, their on again off again enemy, off balance.

I also think the burial of Bin Laden within 24 hours of his death as prescribed by Islamic law was much more than he really deserved seeing how his buddies in Iraq and Somalia abused and mutilated dead Americans over the years.

With the final objective of the war in Afghanistan completed with Bin Laden’s death, I would hope we can bring our soldiers home sooner rather than later.

We need to leave Afghanistan now

With the debris of the collapsed World Trade Center towers fresh in my mind back in October 2001, I was very happy when the United States and allies helped remove the Taliban from governing Afghanistan. One reason was they refused to turn over Osama bin Laden and the others responsible for planning the attacks on the towers on 9/11. The Taliban also had been very nasty to the women of Afghanistan and I was getting tired of hearing all the other horror stories from there. But common of the bad thinking of the former Bush administration, the war in Afghanistan went left of center and needs to be ended.

The blatant jingoism of the neo-cons blinded them to the fact that Afghanistan had historically chewed up the British and Soviets, they didn’t capture bin Laden and his gang, and then thought they could impose “democracy” on the country.

Bush and company sent too few resources then cut back more as they fought a stupid war in Iraq that was only about settling past scores and for oil.

Once out of power the Taliban melted into the mountains and into Pakistan. Was there any doubt it would happen because they never fought a set piece battle back 2001. They withdrew from each city as the Northern Alliance and the US drew near.

Until recently Pakistan had been a supporter of the Taliban. That changed when it the Taliban started putting the Pakistan government in danger as it built strongholds in the Swat valley. But the support was there and didn’t help the US in capturing bin Laden in 2001.

The Karzai government, put into place by the US, is corrupt and after the last election, seen now as fraudulent, will never bring Afghanistan into a modern democracy. Once US troops leave Karzai will not be around for long. The Taliban have infiltrated the police and army and with the war lords still around, nothing really has changed.

It seems to me that Afghanistan is a lost cause and the US should leave as soon as possible.