The killing of Osama bin Laden
Why they wanted him dead, not alive
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
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
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
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.
These are capitalist wars, pure and simple. Coming from a wealthy Saudi family,
bin Laden must have known a lot about who made deals for what. He had to be
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
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
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