“A Nation Drank Deep from that Very Dark Elixir of American Nationalism”


Chris Hedges weighed in today with some sobering commentary about bin Laden’s death:

“We responded exactly as these terrorist organizations wanted us to respond. They wanted us to speak the language of violence. What were the explosions that hit the World Trade Center, huge explosions and death above a city skyline? It was straight out of Hollywood. When Robert McNamara in 1965 began the massive bombing campaign of North Vietnam, he did it because he said he wanted to “send a message” to the North Vietnamese—a message that left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead.

These groups learned to speak the language we taught them. And our response was to speak in kind. The language of violence, the language of occupation—the occupation of the Middle East, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—has been the best recruiting tool al-Qaida has been handed. If it is correct that Osama bin Laden is dead, then it will spiral upwards with acts of suicidal vengeance. And I expect most probably on American soil. The tragedy of the Middle East is one where we proved incapable of communicating in any other language than the brute and brutal force of empire.

And empire finally, as Thucydides understood, is a disease. As Thucydides wrote, the tyranny that the Athenian empire imposed on others it finally imposed on itself. The disease of empire, according to Thucydides, would finally kill Athenian democracy. And the disease of empire, the disease of nationalism … these of course are mirrored in the anarchic violence of these groups, but one that locks us in a kind of frightening death spiral. So while I certainly fear al-Qaida, I know it’s intentions. I know how it works. I spent months of my life reconstructing every step Mohamed Atta took. While I don’t in any way minimize their danger, I despair. I despair that we as a country, as Nietzsche understood, have become a monster that we are attempting to fight.”

  1. lizard19

    thanks for the Hedge’s piece, JC.

    after a decade of vengeful insanity, the great bogey man has been executed. we showed that bastard what fucking with America means, right?

    what too many people still fail to grasp is that 9-11 happened because when you play with fire, sometimes you get burned. it’s called blowback.

    but instead of trying to understand why this country looks like a legitimate target for terrorist violence, we have stupidly traded our rights for security, and allowed our government to become a major exporter of terror, breaking the bank while defense corporations roll in our tax money.

    but understanding really isn’t that difficult. when you train and arm Islamic fundamentalists to kill a mutual enemy, sometimes they turn on you, kinda like when you sell dictators weapons, sometimes they use them to kill their own people.

    our country’s response? more violence; massive, disproportionate violence, which, as hedge’s points out, plays right into the hands of the fundamentalists.

    i wish everyone would stop their stupid, jingoistic cheering and spend a little time thinking about this last decade of horrific violence that this man and his alleged actions have justified.

  2. We may very well be poking an angry beast, but the beast was there. The beast existed. This event may have galvanized some radicals, but it has created few new ones. Drone attacks are causing more anti-American fervor in Pakistan than anything. That’s clear as day to anyone taking the time to read Pakistani news, or Al Jazeera.

    Radicalism is nothing new, and there is little that can be done to ever stop it. A new Bin Laden will rise in due time. We will again feel the angry hand of Islamic extremism (and Christian extremism, etc). This event did nothing to change that eventuality. It was always there.

    I wish for the end to war in the middle east. I give zero support to the violence done in the name of my country in places like Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This, however, was justified. A cold, calculated attack carried out with extreme efficiency. No invasion and waste of life, just the brilliance of well-trained and planned military tactics. (Remember those?)

    OBL blamed us many years ago for all the wrongs we were either directly or indirectly responsible for (despite us thanking him and the other members of the Mujahideen in the credits of Rambo3). Nothing was ever going to change that. Eric Hoffer wrote in his incredible book “The True Believer” that once a person reaches the point where they are irrational about death, and truths we are in trouble (I’m summarizing greatly here, so please go read the book if you haven’t). When we back away and lament that the cycle of violence continues we need to do it in good measure. There are times when violence is a necessary end, and times when it is wasted. A few Seals land in a compound to grab a criminal, and we should celebrate. A few tens of thousands die in needless war, and we should mourn.

    The two are different, even if they are parts of the same animal.

    I’ve been reading all day about how wrong we are to feel kicks in our steps that OBL is dead, but I won’t feel anything but smirking glee. And I’ll do that while at the same time shaking my head about the wars, and remembering that morning nearly ten years ago when I thought I was guaranteed a place in some war because Bush was (and is) a complete shit. Radicalism existed on Sept. 10, 2001, and it exists today. Somewhere, someone is thinking up the sick way to break our hearts, and take away the lives of people we love. We’ll never win, as there is no killing an idea. Ideas live on with a half-life of several millennia–look at all those Christian churches.

    This idea of us teaching the language of violence is absurd. The first ape to throw a big rock at a fellow ape began the first sentence in the book of war. To take the blame now is disingenuous at best, and ignorant at worst.

    Maybe peace will happen some day. I don’t know. I think it can if given time, and a high enough body count to make us all ask what the fuck we’re doing–we being all man, not just the US. But as we are today, we are not evolved enough to be a peaceful species. We kill. It’s our nature and we’re not too fond of giving it up as we have so much of our animalistic inclinations.

    In a world without reason, a world where people can believe that minimizing human life is okay (and all sides do it, let’s be serious), there is no room for peace. And just because we disagree with the violence, that changes nothing for those who cackle with glee when American troops are dragged through the street.

    So, again, sorry I can’t agree with this “let’s take a minute to blame ourselves” mentality that’s being brandied about by many progressives I respect. Go ahead and take some time to mourn the war dead — the parents, children, and friends never to be seen again — but realize that the issues are not about to stop any time soon. There is no magic phrase, or pill. We’re stuck on this ride until both sides are ready to stop, not just our own.

    And once you’ve thought about all this, go grab a beer and celebrate that the world population of assholes is down by exactly one. There are plenty of other assholes in the world, and plenty more just waiting to be made.

    • JC

      I don’t really think that anyone here doesn’t believe that bin Laden deserved what he got.

      A greater point of Hedges is that there are still people who believe that when bin Laden declared war on America, that they would fight that war till the end. There is going to be some inevitable blowback from al-Qaeda. And unfortunately, more people will needlessly die.

      And the overarching point of Hedges’ is that of American empire. And empire inevitably rots the democracy that spawned it. And people will suffer and die because of it.

      Hedges’ piece is a lament drawn from his experience as a journalist following 9/11 and al-Qaeda. And it is prophetic. Something to think about as people celebrate the passing of Osama bin Laden.

      • I think we’re speaking about the same thing, JC, just from different sides.

      • So far, the “blowback” from al -Qaeda has been limited in the extreme, most directed towards our troops in other lands. Bin Laden didn’t declare war on America. If one pays attention to his missives (which of course aren’t real because he died in 2001) then one would see that his desire was for America to declare war on Islam, and rally 1.2 billion members of the religion to his cause.

        Hedges’ piece is a lament, and one that doesn’t hold true. Our numbers in Iraq are continuing to shrink. No one really knows what will happen in Afghanistan now that Osama is dead. Our efforts in Libya have been to support allies, and not to foster imperial will. We simply can’t afford an empire, as the British learned in the ’50s. And despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the majority of Americans will celebrate the justice of Bin Laden’s death, with no regard to the folk who want to harsh on the joy of American justice. Sorry dude, Pick up the argument when the joy subsides. Until then, you’re looking kinda weird. But hey, whatever makes you happy …

        • lizard19

          i was surprised tonight when my dad stated he most certainly didn’t celebrate this news. when i asked him if he was elated about OBL being killed, he responded “why would i celebrate that?” is he weird for thinking that Rob?

          and i thought American justice had something to do with habeas corpus, jurisprudence, that kind of stuff. i don’t think i’m alone in seeing targeted assassination as not really bolstering the concepts of justice this country claims to value.

          • Fortunately or not, American justice also has to do with Democratic will. There’s nothing weird about disagreement, but definitely something weird about making a point that most people haven’t read, and probably wouldn’t agree with at the time. And quit personalizing this, Lizard. Please.

            • lizard19

              i offered a personal anecdote to counter your implication that those not feeling joy right now look kinda weird.

              and democratic will doesn’t make judicial right. just because a majority of people may want to see someone killed, doesn’t make doing so lawful.

              do you think targeting that cleric in Yemen for assassination is just?

          • carfreestupidity

            I think Rob is speaking of the romanticized American frontier justice… you know… lynch mobs and shoot outs on main street.

        • JC

          I don’t why I even feel it necessary to reply to your condescension and falsehoods.

          You are claiming that bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa, entitled “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places” was other than what it stated?

          And Hedges, a Pulitzer prize winning author for his work on al Qaeda and global terrorism “doesn’t hold true?”

          Go away little man. Your feeble attempts to be a gadfly annoy me.

  3. sometimes it is good to give credit liz- this operation went well. i reflect on the soldiers risking their lives. anything could have gone wrong- a small force however elite could have been wiped out in an ambush if a single leak had occurred. bin laden could have been elsewhere, leaving us with an international incident to explain.

    it is a tough world out there. and our politicians make many mistakes, but i have to give our forces and obama credit here. no. not dancing in the streets. but i do nod my head to a job well done with very little collateral damage.

    remembering the tomahawk missiles in Baghdad- and how many could have been killed were it not for the bravery of a very good team of soldiers to strike surgically here.

  4. lizard19

    so hoo-rah, some trained killers did their job and shot OBL in the head. they also allegedly killed his son and wife, maybe these elite killers can’t help themselves.

    i don’t believe violence solves violence. hundreds of thousands of people have died as payback for 9-11.

    but i agree with Duganz, we haven’t evolved beyond our base mammalian violence.

    • ” . . . some trained killers did their job . . . maybe these elite killers can’t help themselves

      Nice shout out of support to the troops there Lizard.

      Hopefully this insult to the troops is not shared by your fellow BBird bloggers.

      • mr benson

        We need trained killers to help keep us safe, and these are trained killers who put their life on the line every day for our country and our way of life. They aren’t “born killers”, didn’t graduate from high school as “killers”, but they’ve taken on that task out of a sense of duty and patriotism.

        Now, those ideas aren’t in vogue here with some at 4&20. They’ve sneered at them yet again. But the sense of duty, honor, country, that took over after Pearl Harbor or 9/11, that carried out the mission last night, is as honorable today as it was at Valley Forge.

        But duty, honor, country are the values most under attack by the “hate america first” crowd, the “bin Ladin died years ago and this was a sham” crowd, the “this is just a ploy to keep the current american regime in power” crowd, Pogo. After Viet Nam, soldiers were spit on by people with the same ignorance and delusion.

        Thanks to Representative Zinke and his martial comrades for their courage and daring in carrying out the orders of the commander in chief, and the wishes of their countrymen.

        • Oh for crissakes. Really?

          Don’t play the “I’m a real patriot!!!” card here. Everyone here is a patriot, just some of us act like adults about it realize that the highest honor one can hold for their country is to treat it as accountable—like an adult.

          So Lizard thinks one way, and you another. Neither of you wins Patriot of the Year. Youre both being patriotic.

          • mr benson

            Don’t think I mentioned myself once in that comment, duganz. That’s two responses where you’re setting up the straw man. First, you retort on something I didn’t say, then you retort on something I didn’t say.

            I’ll debate my points, but not the things I didn’t say.

        • lizard19

          before the Iraq war started, i remember going to a “support the troops” rally with a sign that read: support the troops with diplomacy, not aggression.

          i actually got to experience someone spitting on the ground in front of me, which was fine by me because he looked like he really just wanted to punch me in the face, and i’ve got a real pretty face, so i’m glad he just spit.

        • carfreestupidity

          Our troops do a job that I am too coward to have. They are brave and, for the most part, do their duty in an upstanding and moral way.

          This Bbirder takes issue with the politicians and policies that put our troops in situations that tarnish the name of our military… such as invading Iraq on a false premise.

        • petetalbot

          This spitting on soldiers returning from Vietnam is urban myth. There may have been some isolated incidents — deplorable, to be sure — but it was not the norm.

          • mr benson

            I used to tell people the same thing, Pete, until vets started telling me differently. Now I believe the vets. What I read on the internet says, “it’s a myth”. What I’ve heard at the Legion, et al, is “it happened”. Who to believe, the veterans, or the internet?

            • Steve W

              Lots of Vets were opposed to the war.

              I doubt they encouraged their non-vet friends to spit on their returning brothers. Or that they did themselves.

              i know vets. They don’t tell me what your vets tell you, mr benson.

          • The “spiting on Vets is an Urban Myth” is a part of the left’s revisionist history Pete.

            I will always remember the first time I saw a group of college students spit on Vets who had just returned from Vietnam. These poor kids looked more stunned than angry that some schmuck they didn’t know would do that and laugh about it.

            My father, a decorated WWII soldier who lost over 30% of his unit and was wounded as they advanced into Germany told me how he and some other VFW members in uniform were spit on by a group of demonstrators at the end of a parade. He said they didn’t seem to care if they were spitting on some old guy with a limp or a 20 something vet who had served his country in Vietnam.

            One of my fellow grad students used to brag about his cherished days in the SDS, doing as he put it, “screwing girls, raising hell, tossing back tear gas canisters and putting a little spit on those nice shiny uniforms.”

            I have heard a number of Vietnam Vets in Missoula who have their own stories of being spit on. One of them, a self professed liberal Democrat who has worked on many Democratic campaigns told a group a few years ago how he was spit on by demonstrators as he helped carry wounded Vietnam GIs on stretchers off a transport ship in California.

            Was every Vet spit on? Obviously not. But it was far more than an isolated insident and it still stands as an insult to both the GIs that experienced it and the GIs who have heard the stories.

            • petetalbot

              I don’t mean to make light of this, Pogo, and even one incident of vets getting spit on is one too many, but:

              Jerry Lembcke argues that the story is bunk in his 1998 book The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam. Lembcke, a professor of sociology at Holy Cross and a Vietnam vet, investigated hundreds of news accounts of antiwar activists spitting on vets. But every time he pushed for more evidence or corroboration from a witness, the story collapsed–the actual person who was spat on turned out to be a friend of a friend. Or somebody’s uncle. He writes that he never met anybody who convinced him that any such clash took place.


              • How do I keep this brief?

                Lembcke is one of the lead leftist revisionists I had in mind when I made these comments Pete who has been challenged multiple times.

                Let’s start by taking a quick look at what his students say about him to give you an idea about his politcal leanings. They love him, but the “ultra liberal” side of him is hard to ignore.

                Rate My Professor – Jerry Lembcke

                “Good professor, very liberal, interesting guy, lots of “conspiracy theories”

                ‘He is kind of unclear at times but he’s still a cool professor. The only downside is that if you aren’t ultra liberal you can’t really say anything to disagree with him because he will just ignore it.”

                Lembcke apparently ignores criticism by his only Holy Cross alumni who tell their own stories of being spit on:


                “There’s a teeny tiny problem with Lembcke’s claim. As Former Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Bill Sloat notes at his Daily Bellwether blog, Jerry Lembcke’s “search for evidence” apparently overlooked a couple of contrary items that were very close by — so close that he would not even have had to leave his easy chair after reading the article he wrote. That’s because Lembcke is debunked in the VERY SAME issue of the VERY SAME Holy Cross Magazine — not once, but twice, by two separate Holy Cross alumni who served in Vietnam!

                The first alumni vet is Jim McDougald ’51. The second is Steve Bowen ’65. The story, along with its individual portrayals, covers Pages 18-31 of the original publication. Extracts with the two spitting stories are these:

                (Page 29 of original) For Jim MacDougald, who traveled not once but twice from Delaware to Da Nang, who served in Korea and then Vietnam, and who was spit on when he returned from the war, every veteran must find his own way. Surviving the war is not the final chapter.

                (Page 26 of original) Bowen says the protesters seemed shallow to him, after a year of dealing with clear-cut life and death situations. He remembers arriving back in Los Angeles and seeing a woman in a miniskirt. He says he was feeling tan, fit and tough in his uniform with his shooting badges and medals. She gave him a smile and he approached her. When he got close, she spit on the front of his shirt, he says.”

                Here is another:
                Spitting Myth Prof’s School: Yes, The Spit Flew

              • Lembke has been described as “. . . . an unreconstructed leftist who was a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against The War back in the day; in the early 90’s he felt that the Vietnam-era hostility of peace protestors to US soldiers was being invoked to discredit protest against Desert Shield and Desert Storm.  Consequently, he set out to rehabilitate his own youth and his fellow protestors.  (Lembke’s other attempt at rehabilitation was to argue that it was righties that invented the notion of the drug-addled, suicidal veteran in order to discredit protestors such as Lembke; this utterly ignores the former leader of his own organization, John Kerry, who went on at length about troubled vets in his famous 1973 Senate appearance.)
                Lembke’s work was simply politicized “social science” given a veneer of respectability by his academic credentials; it was never a serious attempt to understand the temper of the day.”

                Lembcke’s book has been criticized many times by veterans who point out some of the ridiculous and at times comical ways he dismisses veterans claims they were spit on. When Vets say women spit on them, Lembcke dismisses it with – women don’t spit. When Vets argue that they were spit on by men, he says without proof that those examples don’t count because either the spitter must have been a drunk in a bar (apparently anti-war demonstrators don’t drink in Lembcke’s world) or it must have been an older GI spitting on a younger Vet. He even claims it was really the other way around and that it was the pro-war demonstrators spitting on anti-war demonstrators that was “reinterpreted” to contribute to the “myth” of Vets being spit on.

                I don’t know what world Lembcke lived in during the 60’s or 70’s Pete but it was far different than the one I lived in and witnessed. I listened to the stories told by my SDS and Guevarist classmates who bragged joyfully over beer and pizza about their exploits in tormenting and spitting on Vets. I know what I saw and I believe the many stories I heard from family and friends who served in the service and suffered the humiliation and torments of anti-war protesters.

                Lembcke, like a lot of the old and new left, is trying to rewrite the events of the past for his own left leaning political purposes.

      • There is no single-minded ideology at 4&20. We bicker with each other on most threads. See above where Lizard, JC and I all disagree.

      • lizard19

        if you think my speculation about a few trained killers is an insult, Pogo, then you must be really upset that Bush sent troops to die in a war based on lies. how troubled are you about that insult?

    • To be fair, it wasn’t a young child, and he reportedly used his wife as a human shield (one of his wives).

  5. mr benson

    “At a SoHo firehouse that lost 11 members in the attacks, firefighters said Monday that “people are thrilled.”

    “The entire FDNY shares this equally,” said Lt. Ray O’Hanlon. “As a matter of fact, I think all of America shares this equally.”

  6. Turner

    JC and Liz. Please tell me, as a practical or tactical matter, what we should have done with the knowledge that OBN was holed up in a compound in Pakistan. Should we have ignored this intelligence? Should we have told the Pakistanis where OBN was and hope they’d arrest OBN?

    Are these hopelessly naive questions?

    I think, over the next few years, we need to draw in our empire so we don’t have to face the problems having an empire raises. But, meanwhile, what do we do about crazy jihahdists? What do we do about them today?

    • lizard19

      i’m hoping this execution is part of a larger plan by Obama to eliminate the justification for our presence in Afghanistan.

      this could be a positive turning point. i’m not a complete jackass to dismiss that possibility.

      but that doesn’t mean i have to clap and cheer, because it could also mean that targeted assassination will become a more prominent feature of our foreign policy.

      that American born Yemenese cleric could be next. will everyone cheer his assassination? after him, who is next? these are legitimate concerns. what we think is justified execution by Obama now could be used by the next president against someone who shouldn’t just be outright killed.

      • lizard, please, explain to me how targeting bin Laden or any other terrorist is any different than targeting generals and officers during any other war, something of which America has a long history.

        • lizard19

          generals are part of wars that nations are waging. terrorists don’t necessarily act on behalf of nations. that is a BIG difference. you and most Americans may not care about the national sovereignty of other nations, but those nations that have special ops killing people on their soil sometimes get a little perturbed about that kind of stuff happening.

          that someone as sharp as yourself didn’t even think about that being an issue shows how far down the America is exceptional rabbit hole we’ve gone.

          maybe if an elite Iraqi team shot Bush in the head on his ranch in Texas we’d understand.

          • Wherever they shot him, he’d have been a legitimate target. Absolutely, if they’d shot him in a third country, that country would have the right to be angry. And sure, Pakistan could be upset, but his location would seem to suggest that they weren’t particularly interested in seeing him captured.

    • JC

      What should we have done? Not my call.

      At one point I was behind Obama in his campaign statements years ago about Afghanistan being the just war, and Iraq the diversion. That the goal was to bring bin Laden to justice. But when it became apparent that Afghanistan had turned into a diversion, then the whole bin Laden story became a ruse.

      I don’t think questions like that are naive. I think there are way more questions than there are sane and realistic answers. In the words of Rumsfeld, it’s the known unknowns and unknown unknowns that I worry about–the next 9/11.

      I see no reason to cheer. But I understand that “American Nationalism” (not to be confused with patriotism) runs rampant. And the cheering of one event may presage the unfolding of the next tragedy.

  7. Turner

    I agree that the gloating and chest-thumping is unseemly, but I’m glad OBL is dead.

    Whether or not our country should carry out assassinations is a question I struggle with. There are times, especially when one man is so clearly a danger to many others, that assassination seems justified.

    But, as a general policy, it worries me. Especially in the hands of someone like GW Bush.

  8. Call me crazy but the idea of celebrating Osama’s death is foreign to me. He’s dead. Big deal. Nothing will change. We’ll still be at war. We’ve confirmed the Pakistani’s are screwing us – as if we didn’t know it in the first place.

    Al Qaeda will retaliate, possible. more likely, someone will retaliate for them. And so it goes.

    On the other hand – do I feel bad that he was killed? Nope. He’s evil of such a scale that the world is truly better off without him. I feel the same with Gaddafi and his demise can’t come soon enough.

    There’s a part of me that feels that’s the low road to take? When I do I reconcile that with the scale of death of innocents that both are guilty of.

    It was the CIA that did the deed – not the military.

    Same same but different, I guess.

    • lizard19

      would an elite Iraqi kill team be justified in assassinating Bush for killing exponentially more innocents in a war based on deception?

      • I was quoted in an AP article in 2007 as saying that Bush was a war criminal and he should be tried for treason.

        As for a specific answer, I’m going to plead the 5th.

    • Thank god someone could make a much more concise comment than I. Kind of dropped the “economy of words” ball.

  9. lizard19

    David Swanson echoes a lot of what i’ve been thinking.

    The plane I was on landed in Washington, D.C., Sunday night, and the pilot came on the intercom to tell everyone to celebrate: our government had killed Osama bin Laden. This was better than winning the Super Bowl, he said.

    Set aside for a moment the morality of cheering for the killing of a human being — which despite the pilot’s prompting nobody on the plane did. In purely Realpolitik terms, killing foreign leaders whom we’ve previously supported has been an ongoing disaster.

    he then gives some examples, but later in the piece returns to the idea of cheering for death:

    But let’s return to the morality of cheering for the killing of a human being. A decade ago that would not have seemed as natural to a U.S. airline pilot. The automatic assumption would not have been that there could be no dissenters to that celebration. A decade ago torture was considered irredeemably evil. A decade ago we believed people should have fair trials before they are declared guilty or killed. A decade ago, if a president had announced his new power to assassinate Americans, at least a few people would have asked where in the world he got the power to assassinate non-Americans.

    Is it too late to go back 10 years in time in some particular ways? As we put bin Laden behind us, can we put the degredation of our civil liberties and our representative government, and our honesty, accountability, and the rule of law behind us too? Can we recover the basic moral deceny that we used to at the very least pretend and aspire to?

    Not while we’re dancing in the street to celebrate death.

    • I’m not cheering or celebrating it. I do believe the world is a better place without him on it. I am also ignoring the morality of the means.

      I don’t think you are wrong. There’s a part of me, in fact, that wishes I could be more consistent.

    • I don’t think it’s inconsistent to say this: “I’m against killing. I would have preferred BinLaden captured and brought on trial. But, I see how the seals had no choice but to return fire at him when he did not surrender. And, when all is said and done do I feel bad he’s dead? No.”

      That sentiment is much more honest than the fake MLk quote I keep seeing on twitter and Facebook.

      Swanson, in Lizard’s comment above, makes a lot of assumptions about america ten years ago that I think are pretty false. We’ve always liked a good assassination, or bombing campaign, and we’ve never liked fair trials but instead enjoyed convicting people on the nightly news (ask OJ what a fair trial looks like).

      So do I believe in killing people? No. I want the wars to stop immediately, and all of our soldiers abroad to return home. But I’m not going to feel bad that Osama bin Laden died.

      • Steve W

        Dugans, where would they have tried bin laden if they had captured him alive? Guantanamo? How do you know the order wasn’t to kill, period, going into the compound?

        Because from your statement, you seem to have knowledge that bin Ladens death was unavoidable. my guess is you prefer to imagine that his death was unavoidable instead of premeditated.

        i don’t know. I have no way to know. Do you have a way to know?

        I feel bad that bin Laden died because I would prefer to see him on trial. I feel badly that he escaped facing justice. See, i don’t believe death is justice, because we are all going to die, but most of us aren’t going to be convicted by our fellow humans of crimes against humanity. And now neither is bin Laden. I don’t care if you share my feelings of sadness about this, or not.

        You sound as if you don’t believe that the wars of the last ten years have changed us at all. i think they have changed us, and a lot. I don’t see how they couldn’t have changed us.

        • Actually I do have a way to know. But first let me address some of what you said.

          You’re reading quite a bit into my statement that I didn’t talk about (justice concerning Bin Laden being the biggest), nor did I attempt to address much of what you’re talking about. I didn’t address ways the wars changed us, I only critiqued the statement that America was all for freedom until a decade ago. That’s silly. We as a nation have been selective about justice and rights for years before 9/11. In fact, that was an issue Bin Laden had with us.

          As for knowledge of the incident, the military has released that there was a firefight, and even if they hadn’t, people on Twitter in Pakistan commented on the firefight. This isn’t secret knowledge, it’s just the truth. So, he died in a firefight. He went out swinging. I wish he hadn’t, but I also don’t think anyone, including soldiers, should just stand by and get shot.

          And I never said that this was justice. I said I don’t feel bad. If you do, that’s fine. But don’t put words in my mouth.

          • Steve W

            The military released a video of Osama shooting at the Seals? Didn’t see that yet.

            You think you know. I know i don’t know. All I know is what I was told. What I was told may or may not be accurate. Ever hear of Pat Tillman? We were told a lot about him, and a lot of it was inaccurate. So pardon me if I’m skeptical.

            See, I don’t know what happened. I didn’t read twitter. Is twitter unimpeachable?

            Please re-read what was posted that Swanson wrote and I’m sure you will agree that your characterization doesn’t match his writing. he didn’t draw a black and white change, he expresses his opinion that there is a quantitative change. I agree with him.

            i remember when extrajudicial killing was top secret and hushed up, routinely denied and not announced.

            Instead of tail-gate parties, there would have been congressional hearings.

            There used to be a lot more expectation on the part of the public.

            i was watching that first night, Sunday, feeling like the propaganda machine had been switched on full tilt.

            David’s piece is about how we have changed in the last ten years. With the passage of the Patriot Act and the acceptance of torture, the acquiescence to constant warfare, this is different.

            And what the pilot on David’s plane said kind of exemplified that.

            Oh, by the way, this just in.


            No need to put words in your mouth when you are so very capable of putting your foot there. No, it isn’t secret knowledge. And no, it’s not the truth, either. Why would us peons get the truth?

            • Well Steve, if you’re accusing a group of SEALS of killing a POW, the burden of proof is not on them, it’s on you. Do you really think Osama was trying to surrender? How likely do you suppose that is?

              And do you really suppose that Obama would have ordered Osama to be killed if there was a chance for him to be captured? Don’t you suppose Osama would have had more utility alive? Like, say, Saddam?

              • Steve W

                I didn’t write the news story or give it to the networks, the White House did. If you are accusing them of saying that the Seals killed a defenseless man, then OK. But I didn’t write the story and I wasn’t there.

                All i know is what I’m told.

                What do you know?

                I know that Saddam was tried in Iraq for crimes against Iraquis. So I suppose if the US hadn’t shot the unarmed Osama that he would have been tried in Pakistan? is that what you believe? If so, you aren’t paying attention.

                So where would a captured Osama be tried?

                Libya has the oldest criminal complaint on record against Osama. Think we would turn him over to Tripoli? Nope.

                New York? Obviously not. They wouldn’t let any of the accused 9/11 people be tried in court in New York.

                a trial in Guantanamo? Yeah, right. With the whole world watching? How would that go over? Maybe we could torture him into a confession?

                No, Osama was conveniently killed, unarmed.

                That’s what the White House says. Of course they could be lying about Osama being unarmed.

                What do you think? Do you trust the White House?


                I always marveled that the US never sought an indictment against Osama for the 9/11 attacks.

                Apparently their was never enough evidence against Osama to successfully obtain an indictment. That doesn’t mean he is innocent, by the way, just that their wasn’t enough evidence to get an indictment returned.

                He was indicted for other crimes by the US including the Kenya Embassy bombing.

                I think he was wanted dead or dead. That’s what I think.

                What do you think?

              • lizard19

                wolf thinks America shits tulips instead of depleted uranium turds.

              • Yes lizard, way to reference anything I’ve ever expressed. And yet you get offended what people suggest you’re a conspiracy theorist and so they shouldn’t take your opinion seriously.

  10. Osama was kept alive to justify the was in Afganistan, which appears to be against rebels who want to overthrow the Pakistani regime as well. That the fighting shifted to Pakistan, that we invaded that country too, offers interesting insight into the real policy, which appears to be our old friend counterinsurgency all wrapped up with pretty new bows.

    “Killing” Osama, who has been dead for years, indicates a change in policy, perhaps withdrawal from AfPak and more attention paid to uprisings in other Arab countries, notably Libya and Syria. It’s a risky step, as destruction of his evil icon might offer closure to the American public and undermine support for all of the other attacks that have started or are about to start.

    But as always we cannot know what the real motives are or the real plans ghost are unfolding. Our duty as citizens is to remain skeptical and vigilant. Hedges is a public figure, but I’ve read quite of his stuff and suspect that he knows all of this. For a public figure to express doubt about something so brazen as this would be public suicide. But it’s hard to know his mind too. I just know he is a very smart guy and a huge critic of American foreign policy, no matter which party happens to be in power when it is carried out.

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