Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: You know what ...

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  • Sacha, in reply to Danielle,

    I think with different leadership it could have turned out so much less awfully.

    +1

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to DexterX,

    Without the US pulling Israel back as it does

    such humour

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    With all due respect to President Obama, vengeance is not justice.

    Hear hear!

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Elderly! Oh dear, Osama bin Laden was born the same year as me...

    Mm. My thoughts exactly at the "elderly". Had to do some counting up (on my fingers, albeit).

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    But sometimes the death of a person invested with symbolic significance acts as an attack on that idea.

    Especially when, in the wake of the Arab Spring, there's a viable alternative to the idea.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    But sometimes the death of a person invested with symbolic significance acts as an attack on that idea. It isn't as if people like Bin Laden were irrelevant to jihadism, or as if the entire thing could simply be argued out of existence with a few forthright blog posts.

    I think this also relates to the kill/arrest question. OBL himself was well aware that the war he was engaged in with the US was taking place as much in the mind and the media as it was with bullets and bombs. (I think there were letters trying to explain this to the AQ in Iraq guy who was playing too rough even by OBLs standards)

    While a trial and western justice would have been great, it wouldn't have been easy.

    A raid in which OBL managed to blow himself up taking out a couple of navy seals would have seen very diffrent headlines around the world today, and I suspect the planners may have had that on their minds.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    What did you say? My own answer would have been "I guess so".

    Pretty much. It felt rather odd, the question was so genuine. He really had no idea whether NZ was full of Bin Laden sympathizers.

    And most importantly did you ask where to get good coffee in Utah?

    None of them drink coffee, or alcohol. It's like a big hole in the office banter. They are, however, mostly adrenalin junkies, so that's something.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Just caught up with Jolisa's beautiful thread so am back to feeling blah about talking about war. I'd say most of us would agree that justice is best served elsewhere than a battlefield. Hearts and minds and souls.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to richard,

    I saw a lot of Americans today (as I do every day -- just walking past in the street) and not a one of them was chanting U-S-A. I have to say that taking the telegenic reaction of a relative handful of people in a country of 300 million (and who can blame an American for feeling some degree of satisfaction at this news) and drawing some overarching conclusion has a name -- and it is not a pretty one.

    That same argument applies to every crowd of muslims burning an american flag to celebrate OBL's latest bombing that Fox shows too - neither is representative of the overarching bulk of the populace of any of these countries - but they're equally ugly representations of the extremes in those countries - until the larger populations of the US and Muslim countries stand up to their extremists that's who will represent them.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver, in reply to Sacha,

    Yay! And phew! I find it weird to be in a discussion where we disagree, Sacha, cos I pretty much always agree with everything you post here :)

    But anyway… I’m finding this discussion very interesting because it’s forcing me to examine my beliefs and follow them to wherever they logically take me.

    I think I’m trying to look at a much bigger picture than simply the death of Bin Laden, because I believe it’s important to do so. So if someone says “well it’s OK that he’s been killed because he killed lots of people” I think about cycles of vengeance and how that POV fits (or doesn’t fit) into a society that looks for justice rather than vengeance (or at least says it does).

    And when Isaac says “ah but you have to look at what he might do in the future and assess that risk as well” I worry that that’s the start of a potentially very slippery slope indeed, where (taken to its logical conclusion) it might be deemed OK to imprison/punish/put to death someone because of what they might do in the future, regardless of what they have already done in the past.

    I just don’t think it’s right to cherry-pick your villains and your punishments because, as I already asked, where do you draw the lines, and who gets to decide on those lines? Over thousands of years societies have attempted to make rules and laws that determine what they consider to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and how unacceptable behaviour should be dealt with – precisely because if you don’t, you end up with vigilantism and chaos. And those rules are supposed to apply to everyone equally, regardless of who they are or where they sit within the hierarchy of society.

    Do I wish that they’d managed to assassinate Hitler before he could implement his Final Solution? Do I wish they’d gotten rid of Pol Pot, Stalin, Idi Amin and all the rest? Yes of course in some ways I do, because what they did was appalling and awful and unforgivable.

    But because I’m fundamentally a pacifist, and someone who believes that the death penalty is morally wrong, I can’t condone the killing of anyone – however bad they are. So I’m left with wishing that these people could have been brought to justice, and tried in a fair trial, and found guilty if the evidence pointed that way, and then punished by being locked away in a cell for however long it was deemed necessary and fair to do so.

    To me, it’s the same thought process that goes with “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it”. If I believe in a fair and equitable justice system, and if I believe that killing people for whatever reason is morally wrong, then I have to stick with that position for everyone, however much their actions may appall and horrify me.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 331 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    but I’m not as relaxed as the Prime Minister about senior military staff who treat the law like the pick ‘n’ mix bins of lollies at the supermarket. X10 when one of those gentlemen is now the Governor-General designate.

    I guess my interpretation was that the GG elect was "following orders", so it seems entirely reasonable that an officer that follows instructions as well as he did gets rewarded with the GG post.

    Essentially it feels to me like it circles back to the politicians in the end (not just Key but all the others before him). Of course it would have been nice if the officer had told them to F'off.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    That same argument applies to every crowd of muslims burning an american flag to celebrate OBL’s latest bombing that Fox shows too – neither is representative of the overarching bulk of the populace of any of these countries – but they’re equally ugly representations of the extremes in those countries – until the larger populations of the US and Muslim countries stand up to their extremists that’s who will represent them.

    I don't think those are quite equivalent things - these people aren't celebrating random violence against bystanders. (A lot of them are also university students at the end of the university year, who will cheer damn near anything.) A better equivalent would be a Tea Party rally v. American-flag-burners. These celebrations really haven't been anything like that.

    Like Russell says in the other thread, most of these young people have known nothing except the post 911-world, the idea that a terrible tragedy happened and no-one was ever really brought to justice for it. This might not be justice, but it's closure for this thing that's loomed over all their adult lives. I don't think it's worth celebrating myself, but I can understand why people would.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Bevan Shortridge, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    John Campbell had an interesting but too short interview with Jon Stevenson (who is becoming a bit like our local Robert Fisk) who likened OBL to the head of a franchise like McDonalds, and that the franchises still remain

    Sounds like Rich Hall at the Comedy Store regarding a bucket of chicken.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 122 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    So, can we end the "war on terror" now, and return to our more sane practice of employing policemen to catch criminals?

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 258 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to webweaver,

    And when Isaac says “ah but you have to look at what he might do in the future and assess that risk as well” I worry that that’s the start of a potentially very slippery slope indeed, where it might be deemed OK to imprison/punish/put to death someone because of what they might do in the future, regardless of what they have already done in the past.

    Aren't you essentially saying that the problem with relying on past evidence to predict future behaviour is that people might stop relying on past evidence and just start making up the predictions? That can certainly happen in practice (Exhibit A: The Iraq War), but I think the issue isn't with the principle, but rather that people aren't applying it.

    An alternative criticism of my... I guess I'll call it a position, although it felt more like an observation at the time... is that past history might inform us about future risk, but it doesn't excuse disproportionate action to prevent that risk. Bin Laden's history tells us that he was extremely likely to kill more people, but that doesn't on its own justify killing him. If the US had captured and imprisoned him, that would have prevented him killing more people just as effectively, so why add an extra unnecessary death?

    Returning to my original position, I'd respond that the circumstances probably made imprisonment impossible without risking many more lives. It wasn't just abstract future victims of terror attacks at stake, but actual innocent people right there in the house, along with soldiers who weren't acting as independent agents. Attempting to capture an armed Bin Laden alive would very likely have resulted in many more deaths. I doubt that the operation ever had capturing Bin Laden as an objective, but only because it couldn't be done, not because the planners preferred him dead than imprisoned.

    So I’m left with wishing that these people could have been brought to justice, and tried in a fair trial, and found guilty if the evidence pointed that way, and then punished by being locked away in a cell for however long it was deemed necessary and fair to do so.

    I very much wish that too, but I sincerely doubt there was any way to put it into practice without being complicit in further deaths.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I guess my point was that OBL/AQ as a threat was bubbling away in the news through much of the 90's - probably the real problem was that Entertainment Tonight and Leno weren't covering them

    Going back to that, very detailed & pretty highly regarded, Ghost Wars book I mentioned up-thread, the central theme of the last part is how far OBL and AQ were off the US radar through to 2001. There was, as you say, an ongoing threat noise - mostly because of a very small group of people who could see the potential for something bad to happen and their contacts in the media.

    However, at almost every level - security, governmental, media, intel and public, this threat was not being given any real priority. The '93 bombing was seen as solved and contained - and the buildings, after all, stood up to the bombs. The US had been attacked at home and survived. All the other AQ related attacks (and it was - primarily from lack of resources and focus - fully understood that these were all related) were offshore. The US has a history of attacks on embassies, military targets and much more going back decades so they were hardly a pointer to something like 9/11 - at least not to the public or most of the government agencies.

    There was a small group of intel operatives who were aware of the building noise but they were regarded as almost quacks.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Sacha,

    There is a different US foreign policy direction; I don't think that Obama is joking or the USA are a joke.

    The Obama administration and Netanyahu were at logger heads for much of 2010.

    Clinton took a 4 part ultimatum to Israel early 2010, which the USA want Israel to follow.

    From 2008 through to now America have asissted with a training program for PASF (Palestine Authority Security Froces) . All this is done under the Roadmap to peace obligations.

    I feel that if Israel doesn't get with 'it" and Obama gets a second term Israel will find the relationship more strained and US Aid will be much reduced.

    The Obama administration is different, they look at the goal and then change the game as part of the work to realise that goal; they are not playing the same old game the same way, getting nowhere and shouting about it.

    IMHO the World needs Obama to get a second term.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to DexterX,

    Does Netanyahu even listen to anyone full stop?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5418 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Like Russell says in the other thread, most of these young people have known nothing except the post 911-world, the idea that a terrible tragedy happened and no-one was ever really brought to justice for it. This might not be justice, but it’s closure for this thing that’s loomed over all their adult lives. I don’t think it’s worth celebrating myself, but I can understand why people would.

    Closure aside, how is this different from the Palestinians dancing in the street?

    I'm not saying this was the same thing as terrorism. But if I lived in Gaza I'm not so sure that I'd draw such neat lines about what is and isn't a legitimate target when cathartic images start rolling.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    RNZ reports that the US has withdrawn the claim that OBL used his wife as a shield.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    Call me a skeptic but how do we know Bin Laden is dead - from what I have read - after the firefight in Pakistan they took his body to Afganistan then onto a aircraft carrier where after washing and some prayer they dumped the body into the Arabian Sea.
    Officials say they have DNA and photographic proof but they are not releasing this information.
    It's such an important event I cannot understand why they have not shown more proof, photo , video , independent DNA opinion etc.
    The US military will say and do anything - maybe if they can generate a big enough wave of acceptance of Bin Laden's death it won't matter if he is still alive - if he tried a video broadcast to say " hey I'm still here" everyone would assume its a fake - case closed.
    I am not alone in saying show me the body

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 509 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Call me a skeptic but how do we know Bin Laden is dead . . .

    If it was a fake attack it would be pretty easy to prove, and then Obama would be impeached, sacked and and disgraced. Political leaders tend to operate with pretty low risk thresholds when it comes to things like that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to DexterX,

    I feel that if Israel doesn't get with 'it" and Obama gets a second term Israel will find the relationship more strained and US Aid will be much reduced.

    Oh, you mean that the US might decide to 'restrain' Israel in the future, not that they have already been doing so (which is a laughable claim).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Our First Deather? :-)

    I think the way we'll know he's dead for quits will be when he doesn't release another video of himself laughing off claims of his death.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Call me a skeptic

    Can I call you other things as well?

    Claiming bin Laden is dead without being sure would leave the US open to the most embarrassing rebuttal eg a photo of bin Laden with a copy of the NYT.

    It really is a remarkably bizarre thing to suggest, it would be laughable except I have no doubt there will be conspiracy groups that will suggest this for decades to some.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

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