Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama bin Laden

Of the many reactions that Osama bin Laden’s assassination has inspired, most have been that of jubilation and that of having delivered justice. It was necessary to kill bin Laden but neither of these reactions seem appropriate. The costs of this manhunt-- financially, in human capital, and in lost opportunities, are well known, and the justice perspective has been widely discussed. An observation I wish to contribute to this discussion is that bin Laden’s death is beneficial for the primary reason that it may prevent future injustice-- we hope that this will deter further attack on civilians around the world, that this facilitate intelligence breakthroughs that will, in turn, expedite dismantling of some existing terrorist networks, and that this will weaken the organizational structure of a prominent terrorist organization. Other than that, the death of this evil man will neither bring back those we have lost, nor will it make up for the crimes that he facilitated, supported, or inspired. Perhaps if bin Laden were to be killed once for each murder attributed to him I would understand the justice argument, but the numbers currently-- thousands of gruesome deaths balanced by one clean shot to the head-- don’t arithmetically seem to even out. Furthermore, since no one won anything, jubilation seems unwarranted. We must not detract from the momentous nature of the event but be mindful of substantial work that still needs to be done to help those who paid a heavy price to capture and kill this man, and to empower those that men like bin Laden exploit-- the under-resourced, under-connected, and otherwise vulnerable. A brave leadership has secured for us a chance to make a difference; let us use it to continue the task of preventing future injustice, in however small ways that we can.


  1. Thank you for pointing out the inappropriateness of the jubilation following his death. I'm sick of people posting his pictures and videos on my wall.

  2. And not to forget the introspection that needs to be done by those who patronized him in the first place .