Posted: May 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is about as political as I’m apt to get in this blog, so just endure, huh?

>sigh< Okay, I may as well join the rank ’n file on this. So I’m watching CNN—you know, the bin Laden Channel—and Anderson Cooper’s over and Piers Morgan’s up and I’m ready to switch channels (or maybe even get off my ass and write something!) when I see that Piers’ guest tonight is Michael Moore. And the subject is…let me think a minute, got it right here somewhere, oh, yeah—Osama bin Laden! And I sit back again. I mean what could be more charming: a Limey twit trying so hard to be American-cool conversing with a guy so far left he’s missed Albuquerque. The subject: the most terrible ex-person on Earth, who—say what you will of him—is most certainly dead. I think. I’m pretty sure.

–I mean, there was that strangely protracted period of garbled information from the White House, or the CIA (or are they the same, I forget) that went something like: the helicopter was caught in a down-draft and crashed, big firefight on the first floor, bin Laden shielded by some woman, bin Laden making threatening moves and therefore shot—

–wait, scratch all that. The helicopter experienced mechanical failure, crashed, not such a big fire fight on first floor after all, “shielding” woman caught in crossfire, we think bin Laden made threatening moves and therefore shot—

–no, no…it was this way: helicopter got fucked up some way, crashed, no real firefight,  just one guy shot, some woman was there and…no, wait! Oh the hell with it.

On Monday we’re assured Osama was only an impotent figurehead, hiding out with no effective power or connectivity. On Tuesday we’re told he was still an active director of Al Qaeda movements. Let’s don’t even get into that operative run safe house watching him, and the complete lack of guards anywhere around the mansion. And–

–but I digress. Often. So, back to the TV show: Plucky Piers, quite aware of Michael Moore’s raucous rep concerning all things congressional, is guiding him around questions about whether President Obama made a good call here. Moore, so desperately thankful any man of color is in the White House, is giving Obama good points but at the same time taking the government to task for what he deems was essentially an assassination assignment (albeit an accomplished one) by the Navy SEALS. And lamenting about how there is something “missing” in America and Americans now (he never says exactly what but I’m guessing morality) and that–attacking a sovereign country aside—American policy is not to execute criminals, no matter how heinous their crime. That we instead must absolutely unequivocally bring them to fair and just tribunal, mete out American jurisprudence as stated in the Constitution, then act accordingly. If not, we are—in essence—no better than they are. This last part apparently also is the essence of Obama’s decision to not show pictures of the (shot, killed, murdered, assassinated: choose one) Al Qaeda leader.  “We don’t show trophies, we don’t go there!” About half the nation seemed to agree with this or at least agree with the reasonable assumption that such a photo might further piss off the Al Qaeda-sympathetic; the other half feel the announcement of the terrorist leader’s death alone is sufficient reason to piss off his followers: show the damn photos! The morbidly fascinated fell somewhere between.

On the face of it, certainly, both Moore and Obama offer persuasive arguments, though Moore got almost righteously flag waving at one point on TV, a startlingly incongruent posture compared to his usual style. But persuasive. Persuasive because, of course, he’s right. It is not American policy to assassinate people. We just do it anyway. Right?

Or do we? You can always tell someone who was not of age during the Kennedy administration. Bay of Pigs, anyone? Correct me here, but I believe we sent our troops over to cap Castro’s commie ass, not to have tea and cigars with him. As for showing grisly photos of dead people, you could readily find shots of a post mortem Jack Kennedy almost from the day he was shot if you wanted to look hard enough. So it’s okay to show pics of Jack’s blood-matted hair and gaping wounds but not Osama’s? What’s the criteria here: who was better-looking alive? I personally can live without seeing photographic proof of bin Laden’s glassy death stare, but the whole thing is moot anyway. These days any high school kid with half a Photoshop or Adobe aptitude can fake bloody dead guys with beards (as some on the Internet actually did—then left you with a Trojan Horse for your trouble). And what if, by chance, the wrong “official” photo got out to the press? What if some tech head then proved it was a fake? Where’s your veracity now, White House? I mean, we could look so disingenuous that important friends like Pakistan might not trust us!

Certainly bin Laden was targeted with “extreme prejudice.” And there is a two-part reason for this. First, unlike Prezes Bush who listened quietly to detailed intelligence from the CIA, etc., then went ahead and did it their way, Obama—correctly—digested the intelligence he got, let the CIA and, more importantly, the Navy SEALS deal with it their way. That’s why he succeeded where the Bushmasters failed. Secondly, the SEALS are a terrifically competent group, no question about it; you want someone whacked, they’re the go-to guys. But they do share something in common with every dog-faced G.I. in the annals of warfare. Quite simply: when in doubt, shoot first—live to ask questions later. Especially in a dark room under inhuman pressure with Hillary Clinton watching and your adrenalin dial on 11. If you don’t? Well, then you got yourself another Bay of Pigs. Oh, and what if you shoot first but kill the wrong guy and, God forbid, the right guy gets away or wasn’t there at all? Well…then you got yourself another Bay of Pigs. Only you can’t always count on another Cuban Missile Crisis to bail out your presidency, CIA directorship, or Black OP’s whatever. Meaning even if the official order encouraged capturing Osama alive, I doubt it was the first guilt-fraught thing on the minds of those running through the smoke and chaos.

But. That word ‘assassination.’

Moore’s entire logic on the subject was based on the premise that American Military/Congress doesn’t just go about offing people without their day in court. He even mentioned the Nuremburg trials (good old flawlessly patriotic WWII logic there) and how we refused to simply line up the accused Nazi bastards and fire away point blank, much as the slime might have deserved it. Fine. But you see, Michael, that might have had something do with the fact that those Nazi bastards were captured, imprisoned and READILY AVAILABLE FOR TRIAL! But more to the point, Moore’s argument implies, apparently, that we are not at war with Al Queda—and thus bin Laden was therefore not a soldier. So, what was he then? An innocent civilian? In war, bringing to trial individual soldiers isn’t exactly practical from a time or tactical standpoint; the enemy tends not to hold still for you. In war, all bets are off. So, if you believe bin Laden was a soldier, then he was not, by definition, assassinated. He was killed as part of a military operation. The people in the twin towers, now, that was more of an assassination. The first thing the army does in boot camp (I was there) is ask those in your platoon if anyone has a conscientious or religious objection to murdering another human being while in the military. They never mention whose military, which I always thought a bit odd. Anyway, if you raise your hand, you’re asked to step to the left. Then you’re sent back home.

But look, this isn’t what I wanted to talk about anyway. Arguing about the technicalities of war is like arguing about cancer; it’s not going away until we stop it.

What really steams my clams has nothing to do with politics or war or attention-getting news shows or really even morals, I guess. Look, I don’t know anything about Osama bin Laden. Does anybody really know anyone? I read he was an educated man, an apparently charismatic, soft-spoken man, and mostly a man obsessed with his own ideas about the mingled destines of war and religion. I also know that he was, at some point at least a, well…kid. A six year old kid, four year old kid, a newborn baby. Maybe his mother didn’t love him. I don’t know what his parents were like or if his family was dysfunctional or how that might have impacted him. I only know that at the instant of birth what he was not: he was neither Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, or Roman Catholic. Those are religions. He was a simple lump of flesh. Just another human being. Like the rest of us.

Yeah, I know: Hitler, Stalin, John Wayne Gacy. Maybe it’s true some men are born bad. There may be a genetic predisposition toward it, I don’t know; I majored in Fine Art. The point, my point anyway, is that the death of any human being is not cause for celebration. It may be cause for relief. But if it comes at gunpoint, doesn’t that diminish us all a little?

Should we weep for bin Laden? That’s reserved for whatever’s left of his family, I suppose. But Moore got at least one thing dead right: we shouldn’t cheer or celebrate anyone’s killing. He was once, after all, merely little Osama, the kid down the street, innocent as you and I. It was the world around him–part of an increasingly shrinking planet–that formed and shaped him, and is—in a major way, I think–responsible for what he became. And what we become as well. 


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