Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The witless on the pitiless

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  • Idiot Savant,

    He was a muderous religious fascist.

    Indeed. But even murderous religious fascists deserve a fair trial. Bin Laden was simply gunned down in cold blood.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Very well said (Russell, that is). Many have disagreed, but I thought Obama played it nicely in his speech with his focus on the 9/11 victims and the sober tone with no hint of triumphalism. Although plenty of that certainly followed.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 825 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    good grief, is Hone trying not to get elected?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman,

    With you right up to the last word. "Fascist" is a loose term at the best of times, but it doesn't seem any better a fit for Bin Laden than "freedom fighter".

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Indeed. But even murderous religious fascists deserve a fair trial. Bin Laden was simply gunned down in cold blood.

    True. Although Raffi Khatchadourian -- not exactly one of your usual suspects -- had an interesting take on how the Rules of Engagement might have applied in this case, and concludes that:

    To be uncomfortable with such operations is, in a sense, to be uncomfortable with war itself. And to accept that the bin Laden raid was legal, is, in effect, to acknowledge publically that what we are actually conducting in Pakistan is a kind of war. In his death, bin Laden has forced this admission from us.

    His argument has been both diminished as it's become clear that there was only one guard firing in the compound, but bolstered by the seized evidence which seems to suggest that Bin Laden was actively engaged in combat planning.

    But, of course, that wasn't my point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    ditto on the fascist call. “fascism” is the wrong sort of political system.

    “totalitarian” might be more apt. or, perhaps something like "totalitarian theocratist"?

    but, then, meh. they’re all fcking nuts.

    including the american snipers who shot dead women in falluja while pursuing al qaeda in iraq.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman,

    But even murderous religious fascists deserve a fair trial.

    Quite so, although I think most people will find it hard to generate much sympathy for his right to due process. However, I think it's just as important and much easier to emphasise that Bin Laden's victims deserve a fair trial. That way you can enlist people's righteous indignation in support of a trial instead of running against the emotional grain.

    How dare they grant Bin Laden a quick and merciful death? How dare they let him off without being held to account for his crimes in front of the world?

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Che Tibby,

    including the american snipers who shot dead women in falluja while pursuing al qaeda in iraq.

    In a better world, we'd see a proper reckoning of a lot more than that in Fallujah.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Che Tibby,

    "Theocrat" works. "Totalitarian" not so much, I think: it's basically the word you use when you want to talk about Hitler and Stalin at the same time.

    "Islamist" I find misleading. There are plenty of moderate democratic Islamists who really shouldn't be tarred with the same brush any more than Angela Merkel should be compared with the Ku Klux Klan.

    Personally, I favour the term "Zealot", although it perhaps lacks the visceral impact of "fascist".

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Terry Johnson, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    If OBL had been captured alive, would that have not lead to fanatics mounting a campaign to release him? How many lives would that cost?

    Since Nov 2010 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Ewan Morris,

    Russell, do we really have a "rush of misguided Maori sentiment" in memory of Osama Bin Laden? Yes, we have Hone Harawira and Ranginui Walker, who are two very prominent Maori. Perhaps we have Willie Jackson, although I haven't heard his views on the matter. Bomber Bradbury isn't Maori as far as I know. Aren't we really just talking about a few individuals, whose views have been disagreed with by other Maori?

    Since Nov 2006 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    i wish i could find the article i read a dew days back.

    it had a guy outlining how they should have paraded OBL thru the countries in which he’d had men, women, children, muslims, and christians killed.


    regarding titles, theocracy needn't be totalitarian. but what we saw in afghanistan was *probably* aptly described that way

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    Quite so, although I think most people will find it hard to generate much sympathy for his right to due process.

    Well, Isaac, as I pointed out in my Public Address Radio piece this week the New Zealand Government seemed quite capable of doing so when Sir Erima Harvey Northcroft was appointed as New Zealand's judge on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. I'm sure it would have been politically advantageous for the First Labour Government to bray for blood in an election year, but they didn't.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    You are aware that Hone Harawira was misquoted.

    What he actually said was that:

    “they [bin laden's family] mourn for a man who fought for the rights, the land and the freedom of his people”.

    That got distorted from being Bin Laden's family's view into being Hone's own view. I'd just comment that Hone was possibly not aware that Bin Laden was a Saudi, not Afghan or Iraqi and that his family (George Bush's business partners) might have found him a bit of an embarrassment.

    many of the innocents who died in Iraq in the wake of the US invasion were the victims of al Qaeda’s hideous Iraqi franchise

    Saddam Hussein was not an Islamist. Prior to his falling out with the US, his regime was aggressively secular. While it was bad news to oppose him (for religious or any other reason), women could walk unveiled and be treated as equals and non-Islamic majorities were tolerated.

    When the US and its allies/vassals started attacking Iraq, Saddam seized on Islam as a way of building a coalition against them. Iraqis not aligned with Saddam also were drawn to militant Islam as an ideology that opposed the people that had invaded their country. Hence "Al Quida in Iraq" sprung up as a suitably scary moniker.

    Had the US not invaded, such an organisation would never have existed.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    That got distorted from being Bin Laden’s family’s view into being Hone’s own view

    That's an extremely generous interpretation of what he said, and not one I'm inclined to credit.

    Had the US not invaded, such an organisation would never have existed

    I believe that’s what I actually said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Cormack,

    To describe Dr Walker, Hone Harawira and Willie Jackson as the voice of Maori sentiment is also wrong. Did you need to bring ethnicity into it? Surely you could have made your point without it. I have utterly no doubt there are some Pakeha (you mention one in fact) who are talking the same amount of bullshit.

    Wellington • Since May 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Bin Laden was simply gunned down in cold blood.

    To me, the phrase 'cold blood' suggests the following: that there is clearly no immediate threat to the troops on the ground, the immediate action is over, and the adrenaline has, to an extent, subsided. And then they start shooting prisoners or unarmed individuals.

    That's not entirely correct - the troops on the ground were, effectively, deep in 'enemy territory', and right in the middle of a shooting operation.

    I certainly think there are hard, legitimate questions to be asked and answered about the orders that those troops were given (i.e. was the emphasis on 'kill', rather than 'capture'), and whether it was feasible to have captured him under the circumstances that those highly-trained, highly-disciplined troops found themselves in.

    But 'cold blood' does not seem to me to be appropriate.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Lara,

    I think that this is all a little more complex than it is being portrayed. Personally I'll be reading academic sources to figure out the roles of the various players and the factors behind them in Iraq & Afghanistan.

    Re: OBL's death: Personally I would have liked to have seen a fair trial. Not a parade of the _allegedly_ guilty down streets. And not the extrajudicial killing of someone who was unarmed and ultimately only a suspect in a monstrous crime. If the 'West' purports to have values such as fair trials, justice, and other such human rights, then let us see these values lived. Not just a part of rhetoric.

    +1 on what Ewan Morris said.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2009 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Ewan Morris,

    I'll echo that; it would be more accurate to say "a rush of misguided sentiment" than to label it as being any more Māori than Pākehā in nature.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I'm sure it would have been politically advantageous for the First Labour Government to bray for blood in an election year, but they didn't.

    I went to a public lecture covering what we might learn from the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo.

    While not the focus, it was pretty scathing about the whole thing.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Chris Cormack,

    To describe Dr Walker, Hone Harawira and Willie Jackson as the voice of Maori sentiment is also wrong. Did you need to bring ethnicity into it? Surely you could have made your point without it. I have utterly no doubt there are some Pakeha (you mention one in fact) who are talking the same amount of bullshit.

    I understand your point. And there were certainly Maori, including Shane Jones and Tau Henare, who took a very different view.

    But when a great Maori historian and a prominent Maori broadcaster come to the defence of the most high-profile Maori politician in the country on a matter like this, it is notable. Dr Walker actually compared Bin Laden to Te Kooti, and Harawira seemed to be linking Bin Laden’s struggle to that of Maori. He offered his mihi in Maori, on Maori Television and not anywhere else.

    I didn’t describe them as “the voice of Maori sentiment” or suggest all Maori thought so, but I did say that that none of those Maori making sympathetic utterances seemed to have any grasp of what Bin Laden would have thought about their culture.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to HORansome,

    I’ll echo that; it would be more accurate to say “a rush of misguided sentiment” than to label it as being any more Māori than Pākehā in nature.

    See above for the reasons I thought it was notable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Cormack, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You did describe them as a 'rush of misguided Maori Sentiment' which implies to me, that their views are Maori sentiment, if not, then wouldn't it just be misguided sentiment?

    Wellington • Since May 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • poffa,

    Killing him saved on the torture or not to torture debate.
    Using our SAS would have had the same result, apparently we have not taken a prisoner in years of warfare.

    auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Russell Brown,

    none of those Maori making sympathetic utterances seemed to have any grasp of what Bin Laden would have thought about their culture.

    do you think that might be an assumption?

    and, aren't maori used to missionaries patronising them?

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

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