Thursday, 12 May 2011

Politics: Cross Purposes

The purpose of Osama bin Laden's assassination was clear enough...

What was - and is - not so clear is the legality of it (and I won't even start on the morality). Some (differing!) points of both law and view that may (or may not) determine this are nicely summed up here. What I find interesting in this whole mess is how US government is seemingly working at cross purposes. On one hand they are desperate to show that their action against Osama bin Laden was, if not strictly legal, then justified enough to stop either US own or international legal system asking any awkward questions.

For this, they need to continue portraying Mr bin Laden as a horrible, bloodthirsty, and most importantly, still very active terrorist mastermind. On the other hand, in order to defuse any (in any case probably inevitable) martyrdom and elevation of Mr bin Laden in the Muslim world they need to portray him as just a fumbling old man not really with it, let alone sharpmindedly crafting al-Qaeda's next move. And they are doing exactly this. All of this. On one hand issuing toe curling statement about how bad it is (was), and on the other releasing those five videos in which Mr bin Laden looks positively Pythonesque.

The obvious problem with this is that in the modern world everyone gets to see and hear both of these. And therein lies the problem for the US government, and one that is pretty much impossible to solve - mostly because it is inconceivable to come out and plainly say to the whole world "yes, we went out and killed the bastard, and to hell with law and due process". Inconceivable this is as it will require sacrificing too much of the international credibility - plus one President of the United States of America. And we can't have that now, can we? So, sadly, we just muddle on until this fades out from memory and fades into history books. And by the time the history gets to judge it's hardly going to matter.

Because, see, we're all dead in the long run...