Why they wanted him dead, not alive
The killing of Osama bin Laden
Published May 3, 2011 9:13 PM
Why? Why did the U.S. government do it this way?
Since the beginning of organized deadly warfare, when one side finally wins by capturing the leader of the other side, it has been the custom for the victor to display the captive for everyone to see.
After the huge inter-imperialist wars fought over the past century, in which tens of millions were killed or died of disease and starvation, the winners went further than that. They put the losers on trial so that the public could hear about all their crimes and be convinced that the devastation of war was justified and the more honorable side had won.
The very name of the city where this last took place, Nuremberg, has become synonymous with bringing to justice at least some of those guilty of war crimes.
So why were U.S. Navy Seals, trained assassins, sent to kill Osama bin Laden? Why didn’t the U.S. government want him taken alive, so that his crimes could be laid out in a court of justice before the whole world? He is not reported to have killed himself in his bunker, as Adolf Hitler did. Only a handful of aides were with him, the U.S. president said.
For professional soldiers, capturing bin Laden should have been easy, even if he resisted. They could have used stun grenades or tear gas. But instead they killed him. And no one is saying that the commandos erred and didn’t carry out their orders.
So it’s obvious U.S. authorities didn’t want to put bin Laden on trial. What are some of the embarrassing things that could have come out?
For starters, there are bin Laden’s years of service to the CIA, which employed him and his followers in the 1980s during the U.S. war to bring down the pro-socialist, secular government in Afghanistan. Since 2001, U.S. forces have been back in Afghanistan fighting against “enemies” Washington created. The U.S. establishment wants that part of bin Laden’s résumé forgotten.
Then there is the question of his relations with the Saudi monarchy, which is very tight with the oil-soaked U.S. ruling class, especially the Bush family and its two U.S. presidents, George H.W. Bush and his son. What might bin Laden have revealed about the secret deals they made over Iraq and its oil, for example?
And there is the question of 9/11 itself. One would think that would have been a prosecutor’s dream — to try bin Laden for the deaths at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But no. They quickly finished him off — and with him any attempts to clarify the many lingering questions.
The capitalist media — just about all of them — are dutifully whipping up a triumphal, celebratory mood around this strange denouement. It can’t last. Once the march-in-lockstep hoopla is over, the questions must come creeping out of their temporary hiding places.
Whatever bin Laden may have been guilty of, how much bigger are the crimes that can be traced to those who hunted him? Not just buildings full of people but whole countries in the region have been blown up, knocked down and made unlivable by U.S. bombs. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, now Libya — all have suffered merciless attacks that have left villages and even whole cities destroyed, their people blown apart, rounded up and tortured, or left to slowly die or suffer from their wounds, hunger and thirst.
What have all these wars — in the name of fighting terrorism — done but produce more anger and more willingness of the invaded peoples to sacrifice everything fighting the powers that drop sudden death from the skies?
But the biggest crime is that it all has been done for money. All the patriotic bluster, the “Mission Accomplished” bragging, is hype. The winners are not the 9/11 families and survivors, and certainly not the soldiers. They’re lucky to get health care or a job, if they come back. The winners are the billionaire pack who, at the end of the day, have tripled their investments in oil, armaments and private rent-a-mercenary companies.
Those who cooked up this scenario have a much bigger problem than bin Laden on their hands, however. Their wars have helped arouse a mass movement across North Africa and into the Middle East that can’t just be assassinated and disposed of.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to commit budget-busting trillions of dollars to cover past, present and future wars while it is cutting back every useful social service at the same time millions are jobless and struggling to cover basic necessities.
Something’s gotta give. And that something is the patience of the working class, which has run out already in Wisconsin and in thousands of other battles against the billionaires and their bought-and-paid-for politicians. The genie is out of the bottle, and killing bin Laden isn’t going to coax it back in again.