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At 11:35 p.m., May 2nd, 2011, Obama appeared on major television networks:
“Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and a terrorist who was responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children … (Stelter, Brian, 2011). This news appeared to be one of the most important news of the year as it symbolized victory over terrorism and revenge for the victims of terrorist attacks.
US marine SEAL paratroopers killed Osama bin Laden, the founder and head of the Islamist group Al-Qaeda during the operation Neptune Spear and this murder, no matter how paramount it was, raised many debates because of the particulars of this execution. According to the report of the raiders, bin Laden was killed unarmed although there was an order to capture him alive in case if there were no threats to others. Although that situation violated human rights, some aspects justified that action.
Many journalists raised a question of moral, if whether it is acceptable to kill the accused when there is a possibility to bring him to the justice. Robert Fisk pointed out that “The West, which has constantly preached to the Arab world that legality and non-violence was the way forward in the Middle East, has taught a different lesson to the people of the region: that executing your opponents is perfectly acceptable.”(Fisk 2011). From the ethical point of view, not all people supported the decision to kill weaponless person as there was a possibility to take him to the trial.
On the other hand, law experts provide a counter-argument: the US struggle with terrorists is much alike a war and under the laws of war soldiers can target enemies whether they are armed or not. The only exception is when the enemy is clearly surrendering or has an injury so there is a guarantee that there will be no loss of lives.
From the point of view of moral, only an act with good consequences can be considered good. Execution of bin Laden threatened safety of American citizens even more because members of Al-Qaeda are ready to revenge, so the government should increase expenses on defense and the whole country should be alert all the time.
“The greatest good for the greatest number of people” approach also won’t work here, because there are two groups of people pleased and disgruntled by bin Laden’s death. Relatives of victims of terrorist attacks as well as people supporting US war with terrorists were definitely pleased with the results of Neptune Spear operation. Those who believe that murder of unarmed man can bring many negative repercussions were greatly disappointed with the execution. More than that, according to the details of the operation no one has seen the photos of killed bin Laden as well as corpse or a burial place as the body of leader of Al-Qaeda was thrown to the sea. Because of this no one will ever know the truth about the result of the operation, fuelling rumors.
Chomsky, popular blogger, stated “The imperial mentality is so profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance against genocidal invaders.”(Chomsky 2011).
The circumstances of bin Laden’s death, on the one hand, have roused an indignation, however, corresponded the Third Geneva Convention. Because of deaths of thousands of innocent citizens bin Laden has become a legitimate target for military attacks, no matter by what means.
- Stelter, Brian (May 1, 2011). “How the bin Laden Announcement Leaked Out”. The New York Times. Retrieved May 29, 2011