The Bin Laden Debates

Since I was convalescing yesterday, I wasn't able to get my sick ass up to the computer room to properly blog. Well, we have 24 hours of sanity and maybe we can discuss this matters more rationally, than we could have yesterday. 

Here are the best chats from yesterday: 

  • Was there too much cheering and flag waving yesterday? How did the rest of the world perceive of our jubilation? Did the death of Bin Laden really make us safer? The biggest contrarian voice came from Glenn Greenwald. He wrote, "Whenever America uses violence in a way that makes its citizens cheer, beam with nationalistic pride, and rally around their leader, more violence is typically guaranteed. "
  • And what about waterboarding? Some of the information that was used to track Bin Laden MAY have come from the use of torture. Does yesterday's success mean more torture in the future? 
  •     UPDATE: There is mounting evidence that the key bit of information were not gained through torture
  • I spent a lot of time looking at this picture yesterday.  Sub-03intel-articleLarge
    Look at Hillary's face. Read the whole account of events here
  • UPDATES: And what about the pix. Should release the death pictures of Bin Laden? Gourevitch says no. 
  • Did Pakistan know

 

13 thoughts on “The Bin Laden Debates

  1. “Whenever America uses violence in a way that makes its citizens cheer, beam with nationalistic pride, and rally around their leader, more violence is typically guaranteed.”
    I guess Greenwald wouldn’t have enjoyed the end of WWII.

  2. From TV shows like 24, as well as various movies, I’d have expected Obama to be in a much larger room, surrounded by high-tech equipment on all sides.

  3. Intellectually, I understand the criticisms of the jubilance and kind of agree, but emotionally, I am so glad he’s gone I don’t care. I’m not normally a person interested in vengeance, but this time I wanted it and I’m not really sorry. Had bin Laden been arrested and brought to justice through the legal system, I wouldn’t have quibbled, but I can’t say I am sorry it turned out this way.

  4. When we’re cheering in the streets it really doesn’t look very different from the shots of other countries that were having parades in the streets to celebrate the 9/11 attacks. I think we’re bigger than that. I’m glad Bin Laden is gone, but I don’t feel the need to turn it into a celebration.

  5. Some of the information that was used to track Bin Laden came from the use of torture.
    I think there’s at least some debate about whether this is true (some sources claiming that while the intelligence came from Guantanamo bay detainees, it was gathered in the normal way, as much as that’s possible there). If in fact there is debate, we should be careful to not state this baldly as a fact, less it “become” one.

  6. I don’t know that I necessarily object to the cheering in the streets, but I don’t quite understand it – or, I understand it, but I don’t quite see the point. I’m not sorry he’s gone, and it’s better that he’s out of the picture than in it, but I think it’s a function of the way I was trained as a historian that I have a hard time attributing major change to the influence of individuals. Killing Bin Laden isn’t going to change all the structural reasons why there are zealots in the Middle East who hate the West. So as much as I hate to put it this way, I don’t consider it that big a deal. (I should add: I understand why it’s a big deal to others, and I should probably think it’s a bigger deal than I do; but I don’t.)

  7. “. . .but I think it’s a function of the way I was trained as a historian that I have a hard time attributing major change to the influence of individuals. ”
    Oooh, I wasn’t trained as a historian, but I started arguing that point in junior year in high school (on a practice AP question about the role of Abraham Lincoln’s election on the start of the civil war — I argued that the war was inevitable, and the election only a proximal cause) and have continued argued against single event/great man theories ever since. I wrote my paragraph naively to be surprised when the teacher picked it out to use it to point out that it’s not the position you take but how you argue your point that matters.
    So I agree about Bin Laden. I can’t see his death as the end of the “war on terrorism,” which makes the celebration (as compared to the VE/VJ day celebrations) somewhat perplexing. We were discussing why it’s different than Hitler’s death (or the death of the Tamil Tiger leader in Sri Lanka) and concluded that part of the difference is that those deaths were the end result of a vice; Hitler’s close cohort & the Tiger’s stronghold were the last remaining bastion of the opposition, and destroying them was necessary. But, Bin Laden’s destruction is (at “best”) like destroying Hitler during the blitz. Would that have ended the war? Perhaps, if Hitler really was completely responsible for Germany’s actions. But, I find that hard to believe (that a single individual could be responsible).

  8. That photo is very compelling. Looking at it, put aside whatever political beliefs we all hold and take a moment to thank the bureaucrats and senior officials who put their lives on hold to work round the clock in these ridiculously stressful positions.
    You couldn’t come close to paying me enough to do any of these jobs (not that anyone’s asking…)

  9. Thank you for the edit. Some evidence may have been obtained from detainees, but not by torture. Torture doesn’t work. Anyone in the intelligence community will tell you this: torture is about revenge, not about intelligence.
    Osama is dead, but he won many victories. He helped to bring down the Russian empire, when they invaded Afghanistan. Then he successfully baited the US into various invasions, which are helping to bankrupt us; and which established extensive recruiting grounds for further jihadis. I’m glad he’s gone, but his deeds live on.. if only it were so simple as a single killing.

  10. “From TV shows like 24, as well as various movies, I’d have expected Obama to be in a much larger room, surrounded by high-tech equipment on all sides.”
    There’s a big screen at the end of the room that they’re all looking at. (Or at least there was when Bill was in charge.) There might have been some smaller screens off to the sides to facilitate videoconferencing; I don’t really remember. The room is pretty small, so as to help a small number of advisers focus. Plenty of bells and whistles in nearby parts of the West Wing, but the Situation Room is about concentration. (Which is probably why Hollywood, being about distraction, dresses it up much more.)

  11. My guess is the rejoicing at the end of WWII was really about the prospect of soldiers coming home. If that’s what it’s about now, great. If it’s about the weakening of al-Qaeda and prevention of future harm, also great. But it seems like it’s more the revenge factor; understandable, but a different thing.

  12. I felt relief, but no joy. But I understand the celebrations. I can’t say I felt that way on hearing the news but I get it that some people do.
    We’ve been at war for almost 10 years with no exit strategy and with no idea of what a victory or what resolution would even look like. This is the first concrete event that has made any of it seem worth it in any way. I understand wanting to cheer a little bit and feeling like after all the stupidity, all the money down the drain, and all the needless death and suffering on both sides, that we finally accomplished something worthwhile at least. It’s small consolation, but it’s something.

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