I may regret posting so immediately, but I wanted to maintain the heat of the moment. My first thoughts when I heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed were positive, as I’m sure was the case for most Americans who lived through 9/11. But is this something to celebrate?
I’m inclined generally to believe that a death should never be celebrated. It seems almost inhuman to cheer on another’s demise. Yet, talking heads on the news keep remarking on how “natural” it feels to be happy about the news. Does being happy mean you need to run out into the streets to wave a flag and sing the Star Spangled Banner? Absolutely not. Does no one remember seeing Palestinians celebrating in the streets after the Twin Towers collapsed? Did no one else feel disgusted at that sight?
Certainly, we shouldn’t condemn ourselves for being satisfied that an international terrorist and a mass murderer has been brought to justice. But need we be so base in our jubilation? If we can’t react with restraint, how exactly are we the good side in the War on Terror? The parties in the streets of DC and New York imply that our goal was not justice in pursuing al-Qaeda’s top man, but rather revenge.
The assassination also presents some very relevant legal questions which I will expand on later when I have more time to consider the matter. In short, though, killing a foreign national abroad is definitely illegal under international law, but it’s unlikely that anyone will make a considerable fuss over it. This is a pretty good indication that at the end of the day, international law is still meaningless.