Justice for Bin Laden? Mais Non!

Party pooper! It now emerges that George W. Bush is not especially happy over Osama Bin Laden’s death. I’ll let Andy Borowitz put it best:

Bush “not overjoyed” by Osama news: “I don’t rejoice at the death of another person, especially one I couldn’t find.”


Andy Borowitz

Careful, Mr. President! You shouldn’t be saying things like that – you’ll sound like the French!

You read that right: Christian Salmon of the French government’s research institute CNRS, writing in Le Monde, goes so far as to call the operation that dispatched Bin Ladin “a perfect crime,” according to the definition of philosopher Jean Baudrillard:

[A] crime whose authors are anonymous, whose narrative is impossible, whose body is unfindable, and for which all pieces of evidence have disappeared in the Pakistani night, even while it was filmed by cameras mounted on commando’s helmets and followed directly by the American executive. Invisible target. Invisible execution. Invisible cadaver. A veritable black hole in the mediasphere.

He’s sort of suspicious of what the Americans claim to have happened, you could say. It’s like something out of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Purloined Letter (but the French were always particularly fond of Poe). Even then, the Americans failed to smash that Osama Bin Laden myth of the lone cave-dwelling fighter, “who appears and disappears as he likes, taunting the greatest world power, an Arabian Clint Eastwood, a Muslim Robin Hood who claims to avenge the Palestinian people’s suffering.” Fundamentalists are ready to rename the Arabian Sea as the “Martyr’s Sea,” for heaven’s sake!

Similarly Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer of King’s College, London, also writing in Le Monde, is not very impressed by the Abottabad operation:

Tuer l’ennemi public numéro 1, est-ce “rendre justice”? http://lemde.fr/lZQWgY


Le Monde

President Obama, in his televised announcement, declared that “justice has been done.” Vilmer: “That’s surprising: if it was enough to kill him to do justice for the victims [of Al-Qaeda], why did they claim to want to arrest him?” Actually, Vilmer does not for a moment believe that the SEAL Team 6 commandos had any other orders than to kill. Bin Laden wasn’t armed; there was no return fire during that raid. No, it was far easy to kill him than to deal with all the issues having a live Osama Bin Laden on their hands would entail, including arguments over the death penalty and the possibility of retaliatory hostages being taken.

To use an Israeli term, then, this was a “targeted assasination.” But that’s OK – there’s no problem with such a concept for any country that does still practice capital punishment. France, however, does not do that, and has not done so for thirty years. Ultimately, Vilmer is disappointed not so much with Obama – as in, that’s the Americans, what can you expect? – as he is with his own leaders (Sarkozy, Foreign Minister JuppĂ©) who were quick to echo the American president’s assertion that justice had been served. If one claims to remain true to French ideals, he wants to say, it’s not possible to be glad at Bin Laden’s death, one must rather regret that what really was constituted as an assasination squad through its actions made any true justice impossible.

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