On the Death of Osama bin Laden

23:30 Mon 02 May 2011
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I was surprised when I heard the news—via SMS from Twitter from my brother—that US forces had apparently killed bin Laden. Surprised, but not particularly affected. No glee, no sadness, no sense that as an event it was important in itself (rather than for its symbolic value).

A variant of “live by the sword, die by the sword” came to mind, but with less empathy: bin Laden had been a player in the vicious games of the world’s elites, responsible for much death and suffering, using others as pawns and dispensing death and suffering either as the goals or as byproducts of his maneuverings. I wouldn’t shed a tear for his passing, nor for the passing of any of the other players in those games. I do not believe, however, that he was significantly worse than other players, either those before him or those yet playing, and I do not believe that his death in any material way changes any of the games in question.

And it is those games, the games in which so many of us are fodder for the acquisitiveness and greed and ambition and pride and hunger for power of a handful, which are the true evil. Yes, individuals can be also, and would likely crop up under any circumstances, but it is the system of power and war itself, which we have for so long allowed to be placed on our backs so that we the many may be ridden by the few, that must be broken if we truly desire “no more 9-11s”, “no more bin Ladens”.

Wars are waged in our name; wars are fought with our complicity. Not only should we refuse to wage war, but we should refuse to allow war to be waged. Until we do at least that, we will keep our bridle, and the other players of vicious power games will direct us as they see fit.

2 Responses to “On the Death of Osama bin Laden”

  1. Lev Says:

    The killing itself has a tremendous symbolic (read: propaganda) significance, as can be seen by the public reaction here and abroad. Although Obama’s poll numbers have seen a big bump, it remains to be seen whether fickle voters will remember or care come November 2012.

    However, the real significance of the raid is the capture of data about the identity and whereaboutss of bin Laden’s operatives and allies. If these data turn out to be useful, this will hasten the end of the war, for which we should be glad.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    While I’d be extremely happy to see an end to this war, and glad at anything hastening it, I don’t really believe that the death of bin Laden, or anything short of massive public unrest, will bring about its termination. It’s a war without clearly-defined enemies or objectives, and I suspect that, like the “War on Drugs”, we’re pretty much stuck with the “War on Terror” as a feature of the American political landscape, because its continuance suits those in power very well.

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