Osama Bin Laden Dead

May 2nd, 2011, in Asides, by

Reports that Osama Bin Laden killed in a special operation, Obama to give speech.

Video of Obama speech:

Here is the text version:

Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was dark-ened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreck-age of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an or-ganization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Af-ghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intel-ligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we devel-oped more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take ac-tion, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary cour-age and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most signifi-cant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism co-operation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and coun-terterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a gen-eration that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that pre-vailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

120 Comments on “Osama Bin Laden Dead”

  1. Arie Brand says:

    It amazes me that anyone rational has anything but contempt for OBL who has brought so much misery to the world and made life far harder for Muslims than any one else. As for bringing him in for legal charges, are they serious, with every two bit, ranting nutter making mileage out it. Hard to make political capital out of fishfood.

    Yes, every two bit ranting nutter – the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, the ex-Mayor of London, the Dutch Foreign Minister, your countryman Geoffrey Robertson (well known human rights lawyer) – and a few other nutters (among whom yours truly). Incidentally, the indignation about OBL’s summary execution is greatest in the Muslim world.

    And since that heroic deed we have had to put up with a mountain of lies and the slimiest hypocrisy. I agree with that other nutter, Alexander Cockburn:

    So Obama only had one bloodied feather in his cap when he gave one of the most morally repellent speeches I have ever heard delivered from the White House. Bush at least had the crude brio of a semi-literate jock when he vaunted America’s prowess. Obama’s “we nailed him” paragraphs of mendacity concluded with Dickensian Heepishness: “Tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.”

    Alas, the actual story of the “our history” is an unrelenting ability to lie about everything, while simultaneously claiming America’s superior moral worth.

  2. Lairedion says:

    You’re right timdog, a good story is a good story. I just found it comical to see you and BB get carried away with wacky bules wearing turbans.

    But I gotta say Brits are good at it. Look at yourself, the seemingly endless amount of anecdotes up your sleeve and your style of writing. My contributions are dead-boring but yours read as stories themselves. I’m not criticizing this. I’m just noting.


    Not related to this topic but it would have been interesting seeing you head-on-head with Ross on Irish matters.

  3. Oigal says:

    Well I think its common knowledge that “Wacky” and Brits go together but that is what makes them fun to read about..:-)

  4. Oigal says:

    your countryman Geoffrey Robertson (well known human rights lawyer)

    And well known, self important publicity seeker..and of all people I am the one you are wasting your time quoting religious figures too..Just because your fantasy cult happens to be recognised as a formal religion makes it no less a dangerous delusion. Let’s not pretend we are talking about anything but the eternally offended here, they know nothing else its life style choice like a new york hooker.

    Really which countries are in uproar that were not before?..shame they weren’t when OBL minions were bombing school girls..

  5. Arie Brand says:


    Oigal, you show as usual a greater capacity for abuse than for argument.

    Just because your fantasy cult happens to be recognised as a formal religion makes it no less a dangerous delusion

    My fantasycult? What are you talking about – just because I quote the man? I don’t belong to his outfit (or any outfit of that sort for that matter) but I just happen to think that his capacity for making moral distinctions is probably somewhat more developed than, eh, for example yours.

    And what gives you the right to refer to people you know, I am sure, virtually nothing about as “the eternally offended”? You are extrapolating, I fear, from your own little world that, with you around, is probably full of the offended, if not the eternally offended.

    OBL who has … made life far harder for Muslims than any one else

    Can you please save me your crocodile tears about all those poor Muslim sufferers you speak at the same time with such contempt of?

  6. Oigal says:

    AB, You are starting to sound like the offended ones..Firstly I was merely pointing out quoting religious figures as some sort of authority carries no weight with me (If you do or anyone else, If you want to take that personally so be it).

    Gee..what gives me the right..What does it take to set off their various hard line groups here in Indonesia or else where…lets see, movies, cartoons, dances, dress, songs, gambling, sex……sorry if this gets too long. You think there would not have been yet another protest, murder, bombing this month if OBL was still living….?

    Can you please save me your crocodile tears about all those poor Muslim sufferers you speak at the same time with such contempt of?

    Climb off your high horse, the offended ones are of no particular religion, why we even used have a blog here dedicated to the cause and just as loony. I am speaking of contempt of people like OBL and his ilk, no one but the ignorant would really consider them representative of Muslims.

    Seriously, I know you have anti USA tirade to get into but basing it on the demise of OBL will get you nothing but wasted time.

  7. Oigal says:

    his capacity for making moral distinctions is probably somewhat more developed than, eh, for example yours.

    🙂 That’s funny, ok granted you are not talking the same strain (stain) of here but we might get back into who has the moral right to make distinctions, when the CEO of the major western cult goes to gaol for allowing decades of abuse to go unreported and covered up. The same guy continues to allow his churches to declare bankruptcy to avoid awarded legally awarded payments to victims. Now don’t be personal but thats about the last place I would go looking for moral guidance.

    Oh as I said, I acknowledge the differences but just cannot be bothered on cut paste on the evils of cults.

    Fact remains the man in question shall remain not be mourned by the majority of the world as it should be.

  8. Arie Brand says:

    After a long and fairly rational exchange with Stevo on this thread in which I defended the idea that OBL should have been brought to justice, just as the worst Nazi criminals were, your reaction was this:

    as for bringing him in for legal charges, are they serious, with every two bit, ranting nutter making mileage out it

    That was a helpful contribution – that was.

    And when you spoke of the ‘eternally offended’ after I had just quoted how offensive Cockburn found Obama’s speech about the matter, I had little choice but to assume that you were referring to him. You can blame your own dismissive and shorthand style of dealing with other people’s posts for this misunderstanding.

    the offended ones are of no particular religion, I am speaking of contempt of people like OBL and his ilk, no one but the ignorant would really consider them representative of Muslims.

    You must be watching other news bulletins than I do. I just saw, for instance, a protest in the streets of Cairo. It is reasonable to assume that they were Muslims, that they were not necessarily sympathisers of Al-Quida but that they were offended by the manner of OBL’s death.

    Seriously, I know you have anti USA tirade to get into but basing it on the demise of OBL will get you nothing but wasted time.

    This is both offensive (one has to draw attention to this with you because you just kick wildly around apparently without being aware that there might be a shin here and there that is in the way) and arrogant. What is wasted on you might not be so on others.


  9. Oigal says:

    Whatever AB, you can call it your win by verbiage.

  10. Patrick says:

    @AB – Given the circumstancesand England’s checkered past one would assume you would follow Maggie Thatcher’s advice and not past judgement until all the facts have been collected? In Gilbralter witnesses and video tape of the killings showed the supected IRA members with their hands in the air as they are continuously shot even after being sent to the pavement. And of course, all the British service men involved were later acquitted of any wrong-doings despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

  11. Oigal says:

    Oh sorry just to put the record straight..

    And when you spoke of the ‘eternally offended’ after I had just quoted how offensive Cockburn found Obama’s speech about the matter, I had little choice but to assume that you were referring to him.

    I was not specifically referring to him, however eternally offensive would be a better description of that particular creature anyway. You don’t think its a little intellectually dishonest not to at least broach its background before placing it as an authority.

    He (and let’s be honest here) makes his money as an Anti – American, Anti Israel shrill, as well as a past defender of Saddam. Runs a nice sideline on any number of “out-there” conspiracy theories to pay the gas bill.

    Curiously, he demonized the trial of Saddam of being a Mock trial and a Kangaroo court. So it really would not have mattered to Cockburn if there was a trial for OBL or the current situation. His offended, nonsensical outrage was a predictable as the 20 paragraph reply when one would do from you.

    Just another of the “eternally offended” and sanctimonious self publicists. By the way since you agree that OBL was a criminal but should have been tried in a court of law, I assume you would also be happy for that to take place in your nice leafy suburb of abode?

  12. Arie Brand says:

    Oigal, you said in your previous post that I was wasting my time on you and in your present one you show why that bit of self-assessment was quite correct. It is not much more than an ad hominem attack, based on a selective quoting of a Wiki, on Cockburn. I think I stray not far from the truth in assuming that you never actually read a letter of the man’s writings.

    As to your only point that has the semblance of an argument: would I have wanted OBL’s trial in our country town? No- for the simple reason that it is not equipped for it (though it might give its underworked police force something to do). There are places that are or should be after the three trillion dollars that were allegedly spent on this particular manhunt alone.

  13. Arie Brand says:

    Another genuine liberal, Glenn Greenwald, wrote yesterday in Salon:

    U.S. tries to assassinate U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awl

    That Barack Obama has continued the essence of the Bush/Cheney Terrorism architecture was once a provocative proposition but is now so self-evident that few dispute it (watch here as arch-neoconservative David Frum — Richard Perle’s co-author for the supreme 2004 neocon treatise — waxes admiringly about Obama’s Terrorism and foreign policies in the Muslim world and specifically its “continuity” with Bush/Cheney). But one policy where Obama has gone further than Bush/Cheney in terms of unfettered executive authority and radical war powers is the attempt to target American citizens for assassination without a whiff of due process …

    Read more:


  14. Oigal says:

    So what I said about Cockburn is not true then? Oh and Yawn we have got it, the USA is evil and the world will be a much better place when China and the Middle East rise to their true place under the sun.

  15. Stevo says:

    Oigal I also find it frustrating that the USA is constantly held up as the country most worthy of criticism.

    These folk need to get hold of a map and locate the African continent. Lets hear about human rights and proper process in that area for a change!

    Sure, I could drone on all day about what is wrong with the USA. But there is way worse going on in the world on a daily basis. The killing of Osama pales in comparison.

  16. rustyprince says:

    Such is the ambiguity that clouds OBL that we may never be able to truly arrive at a definitive analysis although hopefully Wikieleaks will add some transparency. But saying that it seems to me that proponents of Osama’s philosophy can point to notable successes in a still ongoing cauldron of upheaval with the final outcome still inconclusive.

    To begin with and to echo Arie’s point: the much lauded liberal values of rule of law have been shown to have a selective application. Thus we have the ‘All-American’ Lindh laddie facing due process but all other combatents facing arbitrary punishment with kidnapping and torture included. Coupled with the disgrace of Abu Graibh, the photographing of and vile collecting of ‘trophies’ of the enemy, well its clear we have allowed ourselves to characterized as ignoble/racist heathens. One can go on and on with this point but we have mired to the level of Ghadafi/Saddam and it is sad to see the great Christopher Hitchens descend to a defender of hypocrisy and Al-Quada can take credit for exposing us to being just as reactionary as any Latino ‘tinpot’ General. Or another analogy as imperialist as our stiff upper lip colonial forbears but with emotional melodrama replacing their previous cool reserve. Hence the grief of 911 metamorphosed into voyeuristic infotainment in contrast to other periods of deep tragedy.

    Second – the more pragmatic Al-Queada hierarchy would have calculated that this struggle would be prolonged and that only cruelling perseverance would herald victory. Here we have the syndrome of decadent Westernism placing more emphasis on this life over the rampant nihilism in much of the Islam milieu with their goal of eternal Valhalla after the hardships endured in the present. They must have expected the US miscalculation in Iraq where they so nearly send the US fleeing which the Shiites actually achieved in Basra with the British Army. And in AfPak their ambitions have been aggrandanized with now the entire length of the Indus in play and those Nukes pointed at India. A probable oversight in their initial calculation was how the mighty dollar distorts or causes US rationality to meander. Thus Saudi Arabia continues to be officially tolerated, with even its support for Al-Quada in the Mesopotamia discreetly shelved as a concern and than we have in a fit of pique, because of ties to Gazprom and China capitalism, the incongruous mission to become Al-Quadas airforce in Libya. All encompassed if OBL was still with the faculties of perpicasous perspective as the helicoptors circled he must have known that the espoused aim of Salifist hegemony over Muslims and eventual Western disinvesture was still much in play.

    Finally and leading on from my opening comments on the ambiguity that will cloud any analysis of OBL is how he can satisfactorily claim credit for fermenting the Shiite/Sunni schism to the point of un- bombastic prophecies of apocalypse, a denouement aggreeable to the Saudi’s, the USA and Israel and I wonder if given this unholy alliance pitched against the Persians that it was this which meant Osama’s sell by date had come. An obstacle removed thus making the forthcoming Western involvement in the intra Islam blood-feud more palatable or easier for Murdoch/CNN to sell a ten-fold escalation in conflict. I can’t at the moment see any deviation from this trajectory. Democracy in Cairo will be pitched against its ‘denial’ in Teheran despite no real evidence ‘Armani-Jacket’ fraudently won the last of numerous elections and with, as just pointed out, common ground being made with Islamists in Bengazi our Western Elite will shred their qualms about assisting apocalyptic Sunni Extremism, after all its what Tel Aviv and the American Jewish lobby want and I just wonder could it be at all possible that the main entry point to Bagdhad in the not too distant future could be via Osama Bin Laden International in honor of the catalyst for Sunni supremacy. Hopefully Indonesia remembers it belongs to East Asia and escapes the sorry mess.

  17. Arie Brand says:

    I also find it frustrating that the USA is constantly held up as the country most worthy of criticism.

    Stevo, it is the price it has to pay for its self-proclaimed leadership of the ‘Free World’ and for being the supposedly prime defender of Western values. To borrow an example from Michael Neumann, we would find it unpleasant to hear that there is still a slave market in Timbuctu but we would be really very upset if one was going to be organised on Fifth Avenue. So the US needs a lot of internal and external criticism to get it to live even halfway up to its pretences because, truth to tell, we need a prime defender of ‘western values’.

    For quite a while now its performance on that point has been a shambles and as Rusty rightly says

    Al-Quada can take credit for exposing us to being just as reactionary as any Latino ‘tinpot’ General.

  18. Oigal says:

    To borrow an example from Michael Neumann

    Again just so we know who AB is quoting as an authority here:

    He (Neumann) then states that Israel’s goal is the extinction of the Palestinian people, adding:-

    True, Israel has enough PR-savvy to eliminate them with an American rather than a Hitlerian level of violence. This is a kinder, gentler genocide that portrays its perpetrators as victims.

    If an effective strategy means that some truths about the Jews don’t come to light, I don’t care. If an effective strategy [of helping the Palestinians] means encouraging reasonable anti-Semitism, or reasonable hostility to Jews, I also don’t care. If it means encouraging vicious, racist anti-Semitism, or the destruction of the state of Israel, I still don’t care.

    And before anyone tries to suggest its out of context, a quick web search by anyone will prove that is not so.

    It’s truly bizarre that anyone would try and hold people like this up as some sort of moral authority. Meanwhile you will find no Crocodile tears for OBL here no matter how you to try and drive the issue into a myopic hatred of Israel and the USA.

    Thus we have the ‘All-American’ Lindh laddie facing due process but all other combatents facing arbitrary punishment with kidnapping and torture included. Coupled with the disgrace of Abu Graibh, the photographing of and vile collecting of ‘trophies’ of the enemy, well its clear we have allowed ourselves to characterized as ignoble/racist heathens.

    To some degree unfortunately yes 9/11 did allow the looney cons and the religious right to gain some control however the great strength of the USA is the pendulum always swings back to the center. Once again its amazing the selective focus of the critics, more Indonesians died in custody last year than in the entire history of Abu Graibh and Gitmo, yet nary a word.

    The literally hundreds of political detainees in the Middle East right now…nope

    I do agree with AB though, we do need a defender of Western Values and one should hope the USA does not retreat into Isolation with a “stuff the lot of you” as there does not seem to be many around who are prepared to the heavy lifting.

  19. Arie Brand says:

    Michael Neumann is a Jewish-Canadian professor of philosophy who took up the Palestinian cause because, unlike Oigal, he knows something about the situation there (read his “The Case against Israel”).

    He is the son of the political scientist Franz Neumann, who had to flee Germany because of his Jewishness, and subsequently wrote a trenchant study of the regime there entitled ‘Behemoth’.

    The last time I saw Oigal commenting on Israel he claimed that the Arabs had started the 1967 war. When I then pointed out that the first attack came in fact from Israel he hurriedly left the field saying that he would leave it to me because he had more important things to discuss.

    If anyone wants to know what Michael Neumann thinks about anti-semitism he can find him here:

    What is Antisemitism?

    By Michael Neumann

    Every once in a while, some left-wing Jewish writer will take a deep breath, open up his (or her) great big heart, and tell us that criticism of Israel or Zionism is not antisemitism. Silently they congratulate themselves on their courage. With a little sigh, they suppress any twinge of concern that maybe the goyim–let alone the Arabs–can’t be trusted with this dangerous knowledge.

    Sometimes it is gentile hangers-on, whose ethos if not their identity aspires to Jewishness, who take on this task. Not to be utterly risqué, they then hasten to remind us that antisemitism is nevertheless to be taken very seriously. That Israel, backed by a pronounced majority of Jews, happens to be waging a race war against the Palestinians is all the more reason we should be on our guard. Who knows? it might possibly stir up some resentment

    I take a different view. I think we should almost never take antisemitism seriously, and maybe we should have some fun with it. I think it is particularly unimportant to the Israel-Palestine conflict, except perhaps as a diversion from the real issues. I will argue for the truth of these claims; I also defend their propriety. I don’t think making them is on a par with pulling the wings off flies.

    Read on:


  20. Arie Brand says:

    Just pro memory this is the exchange I was referring to:


    The spoils of the six days war? Mmmm Almost makes it sound as if Israel was the aggressor?


    Well, what do you call the nation that deals, unannounced, the first blow.? It was Israel that made a surprise attack on the Egyptian airforce and destroyed it on the ground – after which Egypt was unable to achieve much militarily. The Gulf of Akaba had been blockaded by Egypt but that maritime out- and inlet was of very limited significance to Israel. And, anyway, President Johnson was in the process of forming a naval squadron (for which, if I am not mistaken, Australia and Holland had volunteered) to break that blockade and had warned Israel that if it started hostilities it could not count on American support. In spite of this Israel went ahead. There is on YOUTUBE a video by a Dutch UNIFIL observer of the time who has put on record his account of Israel’s countless provocations of its neighbours in the months before the war. All that was covered up at the time and his report on it could not be published in the journal of his employer, the Dutch Army Courier (Legerkoerier). I am willing to write at far greater length about this but not now. You can find on this blog an exchange between me and a fellow who called himself Schmerly about this very topic.

    . Oigal

    Actually, and really don’t mean this spitefully, I am not really interested in it (as you put it) . It’s local regional issue when there are far bigger issues closer to home to worry about. So there floor is yours for what’s it’s worth.

  21. BrotherMouzone says:

    I must say, I think Arie makes a good point about OBL’s execution. If it emerges that there was a definite decision to kill him regardless and bypass the judicial process, then it was a morally and strategically dubious call.

    If a country believes in (and preaches) rule of law and judicial process, there can’t be exceptions like this. The US constitution guarantees Due Process, not “Due process unless you’re accused of doing something really, really bad”.

  22. Arie Brand says:

    I give this longish extract of Michael Neumann’s article that contains the original slave market example. It is long but it contains an important argument that, mutatis mutandis, also applies to the U.S.

    When Professor Gsry Leupp in a passage I quoted from him in one of my previous posts, talked about the “Israelification” of American politics he was actually referring to the ‘example’ function Neumann alludes to.

    However, this article was written 9 years ago and one can say that Israel is far less admired than it once was – gradually more people are getting wise to what is really going on there.

    Where I have skipped passages I have put in the customary three dots.

    It is almost midnight in this corner of the world and I will call it a day.

    Edition?July 6, 2002

    What’s So Bad About Israel?

    by Michael Neumann

    It’s hard to say what’s so bad about Israel, and its defenders–having nothing better to use–have seized on this. Some do so soberly, like Harpers publisher John R. MacArthur, who thinks Israel comes off no worse than the Russians in Chechnya, and much better than the Americans in Vietnam (Toronto Globe and Mail, May 13th, 2002). Others do so defiantly. True, Israel has taken the land of harmless people, killed innocent civilians, tortured prisoners, bulldozed houses, destroyed crops, yada yada yada. Who cares? What else is new?

    I completely sympathize with this point of view. The appetite for world-class atrocity may be adolescent, but it belongs to an adolescence that many of us never outgrow. The facts are disappointing. Even compared with post-Nazi monsters like Pol Pot or Saddam Hussein, the Israelis have killed very few people; their tortures and oppression are boring. How could these mediocre crimes compete for our attention with whatever else is on TV?

    They couldn’t; in fact they are designed not to do so. Yet Israel is a growing evil whose end is not in sight. Its outlines have become clearer as times have changed

    So Israel stands out among other unpleasant nations in the depth of its commitment to gratuitous violence and nastiness: this you expect to find among skinheads rather than nations. But wait! there’s more! It is not just that times have changed. It also has to do with the position Israel occupies in these new times.

    Though we might wish otherwise, the political or historical ‘location’ of a crime can be a big contributor to its moral status. It is terrible that there are vestiges of slavery in Abidjan and Mauritania. We often reproach ourselves for not getting more upset about such goings-on, as if the lives of these far-off non-white people were unimportant. And maybe we should indeed be ashamed of ourselves, but this is not the whole story. There is a difference between the survival of evil in the world’s backwaters and its emergence in the world’s spotlight. If some smug new corporation, armed with political influence and snazzy lawyers, set up a slave market in Times Square, that would represent an even greater evil than the slave market in Abidjan. This is not because humans in New York are more important than humans in Abidjan, but because what happens in New York is more influential and more representative of the way the world is heading. American actions do much to set standards worldwide; the actions of slave-traders in Abidjan do not. (The same sort of contrast applies to the Nazi extermination camps: part of their specialness lies, not in the numbers killed or the bureaucracy that managed the killing, but in the fact that nothing like such killing has ever occurred in a nation so on the ‘cutting edge’ of human development.) Cultural domination has its responsibilities.
    What Israel does is at the very center of the world stage, not only as a focus of media attention, but also as representative of Western morality and culture. This could not be plainer from the constant patter about how Israel is a shining example of democracy, resourcefulness, discipline, courage, toughness, determination, and so on. And nothing could be more inappropriate than the complaints that Israel is being ‘held to a higher standard’. It is not being held to one; it aggressively and insolently appropriates it. It plants its flag on some cultural and moral summit. Israel is the ultimate victim-state of the ultimate people–the noblest, the most long-suffering, the most persecuted, the most intelligent, the Chosen Ones. The reason Israel is judged by a higher standard is its blithe certainty, accepted by generations of fawning Westerners, that it exists at a higher standard.

    Other countries, of course, have put on similar airs, but at least their crimes could be represented as a surprising deviation from noble principles. When people try to understand how Germans could become Nazis, or the French, torturers in Algeria, or the Americans, murderers at My Lai, it is always possible to ask–what went wrong? How could these societies so betray their civilized roots and high ideals? And sometimes plausible attempts were made to associate this betrayal with some fringe elements of the society–disgruntled veterans, dispossessed younger sons, provincial reactionaries, trailer trash. If these societies had gone wrong, it was a matter of perverted values, suppressed forces, aberrant tendencies, deformed dreams. With Israel, there is no question of such explanations. Its atrocities belong to its mainstream, its traditions, its founding ideology. They are performed by its heroes, not its kooks and losers. Israel has not betrayed anything. On the contrary, its actions express a widely espoused, perhaps dominant version of its ideals. Israel is honored, often as not, for the very same tribal pride and nation-building ambitions that fire up its armies and its settlers. Its crimes are front and center, not only on the world stage, but also on its own stage.
    What matters here is not Israel’s arrogance, but its stature. Israel stands right in the spotlight and crushes an entire people. It defies international protests and resolutions as no one else can. Only Israel, not, say, Indonesia or even the US, dares proclaim: “Who are you to preach morality to us? We are morality incarnate!” Indonesia, or Mauritania, or Iraq do not welcome delegations of happy North American schoolchildren, host prestigious academic conferences, go down in textbooks as a textbook miracle. Characters on TV sitcoms do not go off to find themselves in the Abidjan slave markets as they do on Israel’s kibbutzim.

    Israel banks on this. Its tactics seem nicely tuned to inflict the most harm with the least damage to its image. They include deliberately messy surgical strikes, halting ambulances, uprooting orchards and olive groves, destroying urban sanitation, curfews, road closures, holding up food until it spoils, allocating five times the water to settlers as to the people whose land was confiscated, and attacks on educational or cultural facilities. Its most effective strategies are minimalist, as when Palestinians have to sit and wait at checkpoints for hours in sweltering cars, risking a bullet if they get out to stretch their legs, waiting to work, to get medical care, to do anything in life that requires movement from one place to another, as likely to be turned back as let through, and certain to suffer humiliation or worse. Israel has pioneered the science of making life unlivable with as little violence as possible. The Palestinians are not merely provoked into reacting; they have no rational choice but to react. If they didn’t, things would just get worse faster, with no hope of relief. Israel is an innovator in the search for a squeaky-clean sadism.

    The worse things get for the Palestinians, the more violently they must defend themselves, and the more violently Israel can respond. Whenever possible, Israel sees to it that the Palestinians take each new step in the escalation. The hope is that, at some point, Israel will be able to kill many tens of thousands, all in the name of self-defense.

    And subtly but surely, things are changing still further. Israel is starting to let the mask drop, not from its already public intentions, but from its naked strength. It no longer deigns to conceal its sophisticated nuclear arsenal. It begins to supply the world with almost as much military technology as it consumes. And it no longer sees any need to be discreet about its defiance of the United States’ request for moderation: Israel is happy to humiliate the ‘stupid Americans’ outright. As it plunders, starves and kills, Israel does not lurk in the world’s back-alleys. It says, “Look at us. We’re taking these people’s land, not because we need it, but because we feel like it. We’re putting religious nuts all over it because they help cleanse the area of these Arab lice who dare to defy us. We know you don’t like it and we don’t care, because we don’t conform to other people’s standards. We set the standards for others.”
    And the standards it sets continue to decline. Israel Shahak and others have documented the rise of fundamentalist Jewish sects that speak of the greater value of Jewish blood, the specialness of Jewish DNA, the duty to kill even innocent civilians who pose a potential danger to Jews, and the need to ‘redeem’ lands lying far beyond the present frontiers of Israeli control. Much of this happens beneath the public surface of Israeli society, but these racial ideologies exert a strong influence on the mainstream. So far, they have easily prevailed over the small, courageous Jewish opposition to Israeli crimes. The Israeli government can afford to let the fanatical race warriors go unchecked, because it knows the world would not dare connect their outrages to any part of Judaism (or Zionism) itself. As for the dissenters, don’t they just show what a wonderfully democratic society Israel has produced?
    As Israel sinks lower, it corrupts the world that persists in admiring it.

    That is not a matter of abstract moral argument, but of political acceptance and respectability. As the world slowly tries to emerge from barbarism–for instance, through the human rights movements for which Israel has such contempt– Israel mockingly drags it back by sanctifying the very doctrines of racial vengeance that more civilized forces condemn. Israel brings no new evils into the world. It merely rehabilitates old ones, as an example for others to emulate and admire.

    Read more


  23. Oigal says:

    AB, Sport you have tried to hijack a thread on the death of OBL into yet another myopic anti Israel and US rant. Like the people in Bali/Jakarta had anything to do at all with Israel and Palestine, most of them would be flat out pointing to the right places on the map. Yet it seems that to move beyond your hate focus is mission impossible. There are a gazillion other threads that deal with your particular mindset perhaps…
    Indeed we all know you can trawl through and pull out various conversations on the issue rarely related to the thread in question which is just the point.

    Its not a matter of knowing or not knowing, its the fact that you are both off topic and frankly sad in your obsession.

    I notice you didn’t try and refute any of the other actual quotes and as I said no crocodile tears from me on the way OBL was dispatched. One it was quick, clean and merciful which far more than he and his ilk granted others. Second, it will make that much harder for the loony cons in the US to rally before the next election.

    Oh and seriously, you are now painting the Arab states as models of virtue and human dignity? No news casts where you are

    Oh and the point remains, frankly could not that interested in issues of Palestine and Israel but the effect or non effect the removal of OBL has had or will have on the associated groups of mindless thugs in this region.

  24. Oigal says:


    It would be a point if it wasn’t continually just a dubious link into his favorite obsession.
    I would disagree it was a morally and strategically dubious call.

    Strategically already proving to be very smart both at home and overseas. Morally? Due process? Well I think most would agree (even the OBL himself) he was guilty of the crimes the USA accused him of. Call it a trial by jury of millions. Sentence? Well capital punishment is pretty standard in most states of the USA.

    Only difference I can see is time frame no green mile here.

  25. Lairedion says:

    Good to know it’s almost midnight. Like the world and this blog revolves around your sleeping schedules and road trips.

    The problem is Steven Seagal, being the foremost Navy SEAL, was in that group and he’s taking no prisoners, certainly not OBL.

  26. BrotherMouzone says:

    @ Oigal

    Strategically already proving to be very smart both at home and overseas. Morally? Due process?

    Strategically for a few moments it has provided Obama and the US with an immediate boost in a way that protracted legal proceedings might not have. But long term, how much better would it have been to show the rest of the world that we not only talk the talk but also walk the walk when it comes to legal process.

    Let’s put it this way; if a suspected killer in the US (even one who openly admitted his guilt) was shot in the face by law enforcement while unarmed in his house, that would be a breach of due process under US law.

    Morally, the US had chance to take the moral high ground; Nuremberg style, and we blew it for political reasons. I would have expected better from a former editor of the Harvard Law Review.

  27. Oigal says:

    Mmmm.. Trouble is BM, OBL wasn’t in his house in the US, the soldiers aren’t police and OBL was not a murderer but in his own perverse way an enemy commander. I can see your point but suggest its debatable and in my opinion this was the best and a pretty brave option.

    Certainly, it adds a large touch of class that after making the decision (which took balls, no matter how you look at it, it could have been an absolute disaster). Obama then went to a dinner and make fun of the loon Trump about how Obama would have trouble making the big decisions on celebrity apprentice “those kind of decisions would keep me awake at night”.

    He got OBL and gelded Trump for good in the same weekend ..

  28. Arie Brand says:

    AB, Sport you have tried to hijack a thread on the death of OBL into yet another myopic anti Israel and US rant.

    In a reaction to what Stevo said I borrowed an example from Michael Neumann. Oigal, like your gossipy maiden aunt who wants to warn the neighbours against the disreputable acquaintances of that fellow Brand, is alerted by the name Neumann (that he has probably never heard of before) scouts around on the internet whether he can find anything incriminating against Neumann, comes with a full quote that has directly to do with Neumann’s views on the Palestinian cause and anti-semitism and then has the gall to call me off topic when I enter into that.

    The truth is of course that he knows next to nothing about these topics, has nevertheless ‘strong views’ on them l(like his enemy Ross which he resembles in many ways), and has as his only defence against people who know a bit more to call them anti-Israel shrills (as he did with Cockburn) or indulging in myopic anti-Israel rants (as he now does with me).

    Anyone who has followed this thread knows that it went considerably off topic in a disquisition about British colonial history (which I, for one, found interesting though it was off topic). Did Oigal protest against that? No, he came with fawning praise as he usually does with Timdog’s contributions.

    Lairedion said:

    Good to know it’s almost midnight. Like the world and this blog revolves around your sleeping schedules and road trips.

    Lairedion, dear, I say these things to explain in advance why my answer to any further contributions will be necessarily delayed – a bit of courtesy to the readers, see – courtesy you now fail to extend to me.

    Good to know that Steven Seagal takes no prisoners. Have you got any other comic book heroes?

  29. Arie Brand says:


    Indeed we all know you can trawl through and pull out various conversations on the issue rarely related to the thread in question which is just the point.

    As a matter of fact the bit of the earlier exchange between you and me that I ‘trawled’ occurred on an open thread that had no specific topic. Since you then could not claim that I was off topic you had another excuse: that there were more important things to talk about. How spurious your present ‘off topic’ objection is was shown, as I said above, by your reaction to Timdog.

  30. Arie Brand says:

    BrotherMouzone said:

    Strategically for a few moments it has provided Obama and the US with an immediate boost in a way that protracted legal proceedings might not have. But long term, how much better would it have been to show the rest of the world that we not only talk the talk but also walk the walk when it comes to legal process

    Exactly, and the key term is here ‘for a few moments’. I think the long term view will be quite different from those jubilant cheers ‘USA USA’.

    I think that ‘the Left’ has seen its doubts about this man (which Odinius earlier referred to) confirmed. I already quoted Glenn Greenwald’s reaction to the attempt to kill an American citizen who has not been formally charged with anything, let alone been sentenced, with an umanned drone.


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