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Bin Laden? Bin Shot. - The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal
May 2nd, 2011
10:14 am

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Bin Laden? Bin Shot.
If you haven't heard the news, you're still sleeping, but let me reiterate: Acting on President Obama's orders, US forces finally found and killed bin Laden last night.

This does not actually solve any of our current woes. Terrorists are like HYDRA - cut off one head and two more grow - and the truth about bin Laden is that we effectively neutralized him as an Al Qaida leader back in 2002. The minute you take a man who has to be the head of an organization and drive him into exile, sans Internet or phone, is the minute someone else has to be leader. Killing him does nothing more to prevent future terrorist attacks than assassinating Dubya now would prevent future wars.

It also does not solve the larger problem of American politics - namely, that most of us honestly seem to believe that we were playing innocently in the sandbox, minding our own business, and suddenly this meanie came along and kicked sand in our face! Truth is that we've been meddling in Middle Eastern politics for years, all in attempts to keep the oil flowing, and the attacks are a direct result of a people who've also been hurt significantly by American policies and, yes, our guns. I really do wish that America-the-culture would pay as much attention to what we're doing abroad as America-the-government does, because I think if we as a people really kept an eye on what we were doing, we'd have a better idea of why a lot of people want to like America, but really can't do it in practice.

That may sound like an excuse for terrorism to some. It isn't. Hitler operated in a Germany that had been starved and economically beaten in the wake of World War I, to the point where its currency was a joke. I can say, quite legitimately, that the Treaty of Versailles was a short-sighted move born out of panic by overextended politicians - and its unwise decisions led to a culture in which a monster like Hitler could rise. From the standard of "I really want as few Hitlers as possible," it's in my best interest to encourage decisions that don't create fertile ground for monsters.

But Hitler made his own choices. There were plenty of people growing up in Germany who didn't do what he did, and certainly not to his extremes. That distinction is why I can say both, "The Treaty of Versailles helped make this awfulness happen" and "I fucking hate Hitler."

There were reasons for Bin Laden to hate America. But even if the only thing he'd ever done was to kill 3,000 civilians, that'd still be a decision he made. He had to plan and execute such a thing, in cold blood, and there's no excuse. In my book, that makes him, you know, evil.

It also does not make the past ten years disappear. If we'd caught Bin Laden three months after 9/11, maybe that might have had an impact - maybe then our government wouldn't have been able to use the terror generated by Bin Laden to rob us of rights, subject us to humiliating searches, invade foreign countries for oil, jail people who were only arguably connected with terrorism. But that bee's flown from the box, man; you're not getting it back. It's been a long time, and even Obama occasionally harps on the whole fear thing. It's part of our blood now, like an infection we can't rid ourselves of.

However.

However.

For me, Bin Laden was a visible sign of America's ineffectiveness - for all of Bush's big talk, he still screwed up enough that Bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora, and then he decided shortly after that hey, Saddam Hussein's bad, Bin Laden is bad, they're both the same thing. And then he effectively said, "Bin Laden's not important at this point. Let it go." Note that Obama said, "shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against Al-Qaeda" - which implies strongly that it wasn't a top priority when he arrives. (And yes, that could well be political smoke and mirrors, but assuming he's telling the truth about elevating it to top priority, I certainly believe it wasn't when he got there.)

It was important. Not tactically, maybe, since Bush was technically correct about Bin Laden's impotence, but in the sense that here was the guy who killed 3,000 people and caused untold damage by collapsing two landmarks, and he's just walking.

Ever had your car broken into? Your radio's stolen, your window's smashed, and you're footing the bill. And the cops shrug and say, "Yeah, well, we don't have the manpower to chase down every stolen radio, man. If we run across it, we'll letcha know - but don't call us, we'll call you."

That makes you feel small, stupid, humiliated for coming to a government with problems it clearly doesn't care about. It makes you feel like the cops are barely trying. It makes you feel like you live in a society that's both incompetent and uncaring.

Bad enough when it comes to a radio, man. But when it's three thousand fucking people dead, you want a little more than the beat officer's shrug. You want some men mobilized, and kept mobilized until that's done.

For me, the capture of Bin Laden is the sign that really, America took this shit seriously. Okay, my insurance paid for the broken window and I got another radio and hell, at this point I've bought a new car... But it makes me happy to know that they caught the fucker. It means my government can do something for me, and not just sit back with its thumb up its ass. It means they heard my frustration about the radio, and instead of giving me the coldly realistic answer of, "Do you realize how hard it's going to be to look for that one guy?" they bumped it up on their agenda.

To me, Bin Laden is the fulfillment of a promise. It's the sign that our government can actually carry out promises.

Should I be glad he's dead? Better people than me have argued we should never celebrate a death, and I don't necessarily disagree; it feels barbaric, cheering for someone's head. At the same time, though, we are talkiing about the death of a mass murderer, someone who set out to make people around the world terrified - and I'm not so nice a guy as to not do a little dance on his grave. I think the celebrations are unwisely premature for the people who think this does solve everything, who'll drink some beer and go home as though Bin Laden == End Of Terrorism - but there are extremes. If I'm gonna do the rhumba on someone's corpse, it's Bin Laden.

And so I will dance today. Call me inhuman. If it helps, I feel a little bad as I'm cha-chaing.

Like I've seen in a lot of places: This solves everything. This solves nothing. But it makes me happy to know that after all this time, the dude who masterminded 9/11 didn't get away with it. Not forever.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/99942.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(74 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

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From:cathubodva
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
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He deserved to die. I am relieved he is dead. But the celebratory, this-is-reason-for-a-party attitude I am seeing on my Facebook feed is making me feel ill.
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From:katzinoire
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC)
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Oh yes, some of the things being written are naseuating, you're not alone there.
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From:parodie
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
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As an outsider (non-American), my perspective is necessarily different; however, I think (much to my surprise) that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper hit the right note by expressing "sober satisfaction". Yes, it's (probably) a good thing overall - if not for logistical reasons, then for morale. But the rallies and the chanting and the jingoism... *shudder* Sometimes, y'all fucking creep me out, America, and this is one of those times. This makes it hard to be happy for you.

(Please cut it out? Let me be happy for you without feeling dirty? That would be great.)
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From:theferrett
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
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I don't disagree. I'm holding a private little dance. I'm not out naked on my lawn waving a flag going, "YOU ESS AY! YOU ESS AY!"
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From:strega42
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
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Well said!

I think there's a bit more practical result to be seen here in the form of limiting AQ, primarily on the financial front. I think they just lost access to a couple of metric shit tons of money, and that's going to hurt them pretty badly as an organization.

On a somewhat tongue in cheek note, I am remembering a passage from a novel set in the Byzantine era, where one character is teasing an Arab friend:

"O, many vices! O many sins! Greed! Avarice! Gluttony! ...alas, cowardice is not among them."

And I think there's a sliver of a kernel of truth to that statement. AQ is going to grieve OBL's death, and they may be disheartened a bit by it, but they're not just going to curl up and die.

I don't dance, and I can't drum worth a damn, but I'll pour the drinks for ya.
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From:theferrett
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
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It's a major blow to their morale - I'm sure a lot of them were all like, "Ha! America can't do anything. Look at Osama!" And now, whoops. They'll have other methods of finding chinks in America's armor, but this one at least is finally plugged.
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From:writersblock_va
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for this. I've been turning the whole idea over in my head since I watched the broadcast last night, and this I think comes closest to what I've been feeling. Nicely done :)
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From:katzinoire
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)

In Which Ferrett Discusses The Death Of Bin laden

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As far as celebrating death-you know this is a toughie for me, however like you said if there was ANYONE I would celebrate the death of, it's him. I feel sorry for his blind followers, promised lies and acting on those promised lies, pray for the families of those affected either by 9/11, the following wars, USS Cole-all of it.

You are not inhuman, in fact if anything your willingness to admit you have the urge to celebrate his death is very human. I am curious to see the aftermath, fearful too-however this can go so many ways. Everyone is bitching about the burial at sea and such, giving him proper Islamic burial etc-by doing it the right way it can be avoided to be exploited.

My only gripe I have with the situation was that Obama's speech-which I am sure was being rewritten while we waited-had too much of the use of "I" in it. I am sure he made it top priority, and I am sure he followed up on it-I GET that. I'm not even offended-however the Obama bashers of the world will be having a field day with it.

When I called my mom last night to tell her to turn on the news because it would make her happy-her first words were "Did Obama Resign"-I said "No mom, watch and after this I doubt he'll be resigning anytime soon and you may see him reelected in 2012" Even in following through on something, people who have a firm dislike of him won't budge. Geez!
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From:strega42
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)

Re: In Which Ferrett Discusses The Death Of Bin laden

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I'm waiting to see who at least gives a hat tip to W for having started the process that finally led to the death of Bin Laden, even though it happened after he left office.

...Not holding my breath, though.
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From:funwithrage
Date:May 2nd, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
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I'm okay with a little barbarism now and then. I would've celebrated Ted Bundy's execution, or McVeigh's, had I been alive/conscious for either; I'll celebrate today, though quietly and, y'know, at work. I *don't* think all life is sacred, is what it comes down to, and I think all three of those guys forfeited their right to mourning or respect long before they died.

I'm less comfortable with the "USA! USA!" sentiment: for one, we couldn't have done this without the help of a lot of other countries, and for another, it's taken on a lot of associations I'm not thrilled about. And, as you say, doesn't actually solve much on a practical level.

But yeah: glad the fucker's dead. May his first day in Hell last a thousand years, and may it be the shortest, to paraphrase better writers than me.
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From:jeffpalmatier
Date:May 2nd, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
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You can see footage of people celebrating Bundy's and Gacy's executions in the A&E Biography episodes about them. Both are posted on YouTube. In both cases, the people celebrating outside the prisons at their executions made such asses out of themselves. (However, I'm glad both are dead.)
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From:aiela
Date:May 2nd, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
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I totally agree with the "Yes, it doesn't bring back the dead, but if someone killed ONE person we wouldn't shrug off finding the killer because it wouldn't bring that one person back, so why should we shrug off finding the killer of thousands?" sentiment.

I walked out my front door this morning into a sunny morning and looked down my street and thought, "You know, nothing's changed since yesterday, but I still feel a little better, no matter how illogical that might be."

But celebrating in the streets is inappropriate.
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From:bart_calendar
Date:May 2nd, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC)
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This.
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From:robyn_ma
Date:May 2nd, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
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'I really do wish that America-the-culture would pay as much attention to what we're doing abroad as America-the-government does, because I think if we as a people really kept an eye on what we were doing, we'd have a better idea of why a lot of people want to like America, but really can't do it in practice.'

And for those who need a crash course in this, I highly recommend From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 by George C. Herring. Quite a crash course, though -- it weighs in at 1056 pages.
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From:theferrett
Date:May 2nd, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
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How readable is it, though? I'm poppy. I can't do literary or dense.

Yes, I'm dumb.
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From:bart_calendar
Date:May 2nd, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC)
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I have no problem with people being like "yay the asshole is dead" in the privacy of their own homes.

I just think it's very, very unseemly to go to Times Square, start drinking heavily and chant "USA! USA! USA!"

It's not something a civilized gentleman or lady would do.
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From:dougals
Date:May 2nd, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
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I concur.
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From:radiumhead
Date:May 2nd, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
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I dont know if anyone in here watches "Rescue Me", but i bet if the final episode has already been written, theyre editing it now to include this.
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From:theferrett
Date:May 2nd, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
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Good fucking point.
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From:radiumhead
Date:May 2nd, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
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The weird thing (for me)-is that even my sister is one of those facebook people whos posting about this all day, and shes an amnesty international, save the whales type hippie. She isnt exactly the team america type, but shes whooping it up over this shit.
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From:gwendally
Date:May 2nd, 2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
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I mostly agree with you, but I wonder why we after him now. Someone on Al Jazeera said this was a "good career move" for bin Laden to be killed now, since the Arab Spring has made him so marginalized. Being martyred is just the thing for him popularity at this point.
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From:chaos5023
Date:May 2nd, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
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I dunno, he was kinda Fat Vegas Elvis at this point. If we'd gotten him in 2002 he'd have still been Hot TV Elvis.
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From:pentane
Date:May 2nd, 2011 06:29 pm (UTC)
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I'd celebrate this death if I was sure the TSA would quit touching my junk as a result.

We didn't win, we just killed him.
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From:kilbia
Date:May 2nd, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
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This is where I am with it. Well, actually I'm more "I'd celebrate if I was sure we'd stop fucking around in the Middle East as a result", because I don't fly much and honest wouldn't mind a chance to traumatize some poor TSA workers when I do.
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From:miintikwa
Date:May 2nd, 2011 06:56 pm (UTC)
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I already said how I'm feeling, so I'm not going to reiterate it.

But I completely agree that the excessive celebration is both catharsis and still outre.

I remember feeling stunned and hurt when I saw the footage of the terrorists celebrating after the 9/11 attacks. I would not want to inflict that feeling on anyone, ever.
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From:lots42
Date:May 4th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
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I thought said footage was a 'hoax' as in they were cheering for other things entire
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From:cyan_blue
Date:May 2nd, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
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Good points...
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