Osama bin Laden's Death Brings Reflection

May 6, 2011

CNMI Attorney Jane Mack reflected on the killing of Osama bin Laden in a letter to the editor published in the Marianas Variety on May 6, 2011. In her letter, she called the killing of the terrorist an assassination, plain and simple.  She also questioned the legally of entering Pakistan to carry out the mission, and the moral implications of the decision to bury bin Laden at sea. All valid questions.

The American public, led by the media, will discuss the merits of bin Laden's killing and the related-decision around the mission for weeks, maybe even months. Some say that the topic could shape the upcoming presidential elections. Yet few people will ever discuss the moral implications of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. media seldom reports on the number of civilians that have died in the years that we occupied Iran and Afghanistan, including innocent women and children.

The United Nations reported that in 2010 alone there were 2,777 civilian deaths in Afghanistan and the rate is increasing this year. In the last four years 8,000 civilians have died in Afghanistan. Estimates that in Iraq there were over 100,000 war-related civilian deaths. As for American casualties, in Afghanistan there have been 5,999 American deaths and 43,184 wounded as of April 26, 2011.

In Iraq, 4,421 Americans lost their lives and an estimated 31,827 were wounded. Over 100,000 civilians lost their lives in Iraq as a result of the war. The United Nations reported over 100,000 Iraqi refugees were resettled to other countries since the war began. (One young man who fled Iraq with his family to Jordan made it to Orlando where is my student.)  In 2008 the Iraqi Government reported that there were over 3.5 million orphans in Iraq, with the United Nations estimating over 1 million.

We discuss the economic and political costs of war, but we seem to avoid discussions centered on the social costs of war.  Who focuses on the negative social impact that war has on civilians, families and the soldiers who have to deal with the fact that they killed a person when they try to return to their former lives? War results in enormous social devastation for our entire country and the world.

If you want to see some of the casualties of war, visit the homeless camps around Orlando and talk to the  war veterans who live in them. I have and they are broken, lost and forgotten. There are hundreds of thousand of  homeless veterans;  there are veterans needing medical attention, and mental heath counseling. Will we allow them to become invisible and abandoned, as we did to the Vietnam War veterans?

It is not the death of one person that needs to highlight the news and discussions from living rooms to conference rooms, to the Halls of the U.S. Congress.  It is the fact that the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the casualties of millions. It is the fact that we need to find peaceful ways to solve our problems.  Isn't it time that the discussion centered on ending fighting and war?


The Saipan Blogger said...

You make a mistake in linking Iraq to bin Laden. The two are mutually exclusive.

The US wasted an entire decade on that debacle and in the end bin Laden had been living in a Pakistani mansion for 6 years.

Wendy said...

I am not "linking" him to Iraq although Bush used bin Laden to defend his war policy.My point is that we will spend weeks, even months talking about the death of one person when the recent wars (and all conflicts) have cost our nation hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties. My point is we need to grow up as a human race and stop killing people and start discussing differences without weapons.

Anonymous said...

I suppose Jane Mack should write a letter criticizing the carpet bombing of Berlin to take out Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party How about the fire bombing of Tokyo (directed against civilians) and the two atomic bombs dropped directly on civilians. Pakistan is no friend of the United States. They are deceitful cowards who have been harboring Bin Laden for six years not one hundred meters from a military outpost. They used Bin Laden as their meal ticket and made billions while our hero soldiers died fighting the Taliban. Did we assassinate him? I would hope so. We will now systematically target and take out the rest of top tier terrorists. To remind Jane, Obama has kept and supported nearly all of Bush's policies on terrorism. Including water boarding which gathered intel on this operation.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the first paragraph of this article, YES it was assassination.
That was the simplest and most cost effective way to do it.
It left out any possibility of him escaping or some kind of legal maneuver that would have set him free or removed to another country.
That is standard operating procedures in this type of high profile operation. Even from years ago when I was trained in similar operations.(although not as highly trained as this SEAL teem)
It is not just the US that operates this way, all other countries do the same thing if they get the chance.
Many of the foreign police force practice this also when they keep tracking down the same criminals. Even though it is against human rights.
Phil. is a big one on this as is Western Samoa and many Asian countries such as Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia,Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and even Singapore.
Whether it is morally and legally correct? NO,it is not, but that is the way it is and will continue, especially in regards to terrorists groups.
The rest of the article is pretty much on.

Anonymous said...

Well, OBL is dead now. That can only hasten our way out of Afghanistan. Let's face it, as long as he was alive there was a least some reason to be there. I think his death will, ironically, save some American lives over the long run.
I was never rah-rah about the wars, but understood why we did it at the time. We were wrong, of course, as there were no WMD's, but Bush was not the only person saying there was. Just plain bad intelligence coupled with a willingness find any reason to go.
I have to believe now that it is time for us to get out.
Personally, I grow tired of finding ways to "thank our troops". Let's really thank them and send them a one way ticket home while they can walk off the plane upright instead of being carried off in a box.