By Yvonne Ridley
As the news of Osama bin Laden’s death filtered out onto the streets of America it triggered unsightly scenes of undiluted hysteria, chest-thumping and back-slapping which has sadly become a trademark of the vengeful ‘hang’em high’ lobby that emerged from the rubble of 9/11.
And just like George W Bush did on that horrific day way back in 2001, US President Barack Obama unashamedly wallowed in a flag-waving, nationalistic wave of emotion, crowing about national unity and everyone pulling together as he revealed the manhunt for the world’s most wanted man had finally been concluded.
It mattered not the al-Qaida leader was unarmed – that detail was kept back as hugely distorted stories zoomed around the globe about how the evil Arab used his wife as a human shield while firing off rounds at the heroic soldiers who risked their all for Uncle Sam.
The naked display of uncontrollable gung-ho emotion was bad enough but then a smug-looking Obama began sounding like Glenn Ford in a scene from High Noon as he lectured the world about “justice being done”.
To quote my favourite journalist Gary Younge: “This was not justice, it was an extra-judicial execution. If you shoot a man twice in the head you do not find him guilty. You find him dead. This was revenge. And it was served very cold indeed.”
Mercifully, in this sea of madness another sane voice in America also drowned out the hate-filled chorus and it came from an unlikely source – 9/11 survivor Harry Waizer.
If anyone had a right to jump up and down like a lunatic at the show of a full moon it was him, but instead of adding to the hatefest he said: “I just can’t find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama Bin Laden.”
I hope now that America’s Number One Bogeyman is no more the USA returns to some semblance of normality that has been absent from its landscape since the now discredited War on Terror began.
And I hope that the US Administration will stop using the politics of fear on its own people who have been ruthlessly hyped up in to a state of advanced paranoia at every opportunity. High days and holidays have been blighted by accelerated levels of terror alerts while the latest airport scares and the latest suspect parcels have brought major cities and their transport networks to a halt.
While it is always dangerous to generalize the American people appear to have been kept suspended in fear ever since 9/11 – the reality is ordinary citizens have more chance of being shot in their backyard than be killed by a terrorist.
30,000 innocents die every year in gun-related crime – that’s a 9/11 multiplied by ten – but the close relationship with deadly weapons shows no sign of abating in trigger-happy America .
In terms of a violent society and armed citizens, the US is in a league of its own and sadly the state of disregard for the law and justice filters all the way down from The White House.
That the most powerful man in the world can stare straight into the cameras and say: “Justice was done” over Bin Laden’s murder borders on absurdity; it’s almost Pythonesque.
Real justice would have involved an arrest, a trial by jury and a sentence in an international court should the thought of holding him on USA soil prove too frightening.
Real justice would not have involved shooting an unarmed man in front of his wife and children – there were no bodyguards in the house in Abbottabad in Pakistan .
Real justice would not have involved charging into someone else’s country with armed forces unannounced, if indeed that was really the case in Pakistan .
I’m surprised David Cameron, the British Prime Minister and other political leaders went into congratulatory mode in the House of Commons over the whole saga.
Had it not occurred to them that if OBL had chosen to hide out in Didsbury, Tooting or Chipping Norton then US Special Forces would have come into the UK all guns blazing?
I wonder would Cameron have gushed forth with undiluted praise then?
We don’t know who America ’s next Bogeyman is going to be, but what if he does live in Britain or chooses to hide in the UK ? What then? Do we sit back and allow America to breach our sovereignty in the name of US justice?
Are there any real guarantees that we won’t have US Navy Seals bursting into our neighbourhoods anytime soon?
OK, it’s highly unlikely but not impossible. This is what happens when there’s total disregard for international law, Vienna and Geneva conventions et al.
Distinguished QC Geoffrey Robertson is a man I’d like to lock in the Oval Office with the Commander in Chief for maybe 30 minutes. A renowned international human rights lawyer, he is not at all impressed by Obama’s interpretation of justice.
Writing about the OBL killing he said the law “permits criminals to be shot in self-defence. They should, if possible, be given the opportunity to surrender, but even if they do not come out with their hands up, they must be taken alive, if that can be achieved without risk. Exactly how Bin Laden came to be shot (especially if it was in the back of the head, execution-style) therefore requires explanation. Why the hasty “burial at sea” without a post-mortem, as the law requires?”
Why indeed? The trouble is various US Administrations have lied to the world – lied about the reasons for going to war in Iraq , lied about the existence of WMD, lied about Saddam being in league with al-Qaida.
And the problem with serial liars is that when they do tell the truth no one believes them.
Once again America has managed to shoot itself in the foot in the name of justice – a justice that has earned the admiration and praise of the chairman of the Israeli parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs and Security.
Shaul Mofaz of the right wing Kadima is now urging the Zionist Government to assassinate Palestinian leaders like the “US did with Osama bin Laden”.
He seems to have overlooked the fact that Israel has been “doing an Obama” for years as the leadership of Hamas can testify.
Nevertheless, it seems that even though international law prohibits the use of extra judicial assassination policies, various states of terror may now starting “Doing an Obama”.
After bringing an end to the biggest manhunt in US history, the US President has managed to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory.