Reading the news this morning.. am I the only one to have a growing sense of unease and disquiet? I refer, of course, to the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Not at his death, per se. In that, I feel rather like one might feel about a mad dog. He had to be put down before he hurt anyone else. His death has also spared the American People a debate about what should be done with him, and should the anti-death-penalty groups have won, the cost of keeping him for the rest of his life.
No… In that sense, I am glad he is dead. He cannot hurt anyone else again, now, ever. But I feel unease about the scenes of jubilation coming from the US, from our own government. I look at scenes of happy people outside the White House and I flash back to the scenes of people in Fundamentalist areas cheering the collapse of the Towers. Yes, its understandable of the American people to be happy – particularly those who lost loved ones in the attacks – but I wonder what the reaction will be across the world when the rest of the world sees those images. Will they, like myself, feel the same sense of unease and disquiet?
Should the death of a human being ever be cause for celebration?
Osama, as I have said, was a mad dog. You put a mad dog down – cleanly, quickly, humanely. Then you bury the poor creature and you get on with your life – not with a sense of celebration, at the most, perhaps, with a sense of pleasure – the knowledge that the mad dog now will not hurt anyone else. So it should be with this.
There is one other reason to feel unease and disquiet. Yes, Bin Laden is dead. But Al Quaeda is not – as the US and UK government well know, having placed people worldwide on guard against reprisal attacks. In that sense, killing Bin Laden has achieved nothing – less than nothing, in fact, because ultimately, how effective was he in the last 10 years? He was so pinned down by 9/11 and the bounty on his head, the fact that he was public enemy number one that he probably lost all operating efficiency. Al Quaeda has almost certainly been operating away from Bin Laden’s aegis for a long time now. So really, apart from the justice aspect.. what has been achieved? the mad dog hasn’t been put down after all.
We’ve seen this with the IRA. Imprisonment, death, didn’t work. Even when the UK government finally opened a dialogue with Sinn Fein, and brought the disparate groups together, even when the IRA at large downed arms – smaller, splinter groups refused to disband, and remain active – we’ve seen this in the last few months in Northern Ireland, sadly enough. That is the nature of the hydra: cut one head off… and two grow back in its place.
I hope that I am wrong. I hope that the West does not live to rue this day. We had an opportunity to open dialogue with the fundamentalist world – to use words instead of guns. One might argue that you do not argue with a mad dog. But in this sense, the analogy fails, because Osama wasn’t a mad dog. He was a human being – a misguided, hate-filled, murderous human being, yes. But still a human being, and an opportunity has, perhaps, been wasted.
Yes, as I read on, this morning, I feel ever more uneasy and disquiet. And a sense, that like after 9/11, the world this morning will never be the same again.