A close friend just emailed me, wondering whether it's time to give President Obama credit for overseeing a well-executed raid to avenge a "mass-murderer of innocents." No problem, as I favor full retaliation against all well-fed, religious zealots who bomb innocent civilians to instill general terror (as distinct from historic, destructive attacks on military troops and resources). Just as I condemn the Obama-Bush-Pentagon brand of war-making -- with indiscriminate, murderous drone attacks on unarmed women, children and old people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya -- bin Laden's thugs deserve harsh penalties.
What I found disheartening wasn't Obama's unpersuasive, but predictable propaganda, all to defend shooting down the unarmed bin Laden: "we are safer because he's dead" and "justice has been done." Do you feel safer? Is justice achieved by commando bullets, or trial? Now we are relieved to know White House assassination programs freely cover both citizens and foreigners.
No, what offended Monday was Obama's sustained, Bush-like deceptions, such as, "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda." Really, are they instantly defeated in dozens of countries? Is this more significant than decimating the entire Taliban Afghan stranglehold when an entire country shielded countless terrorists? More important than blocking scores of dangerous operatives before they strike? Symbolism matters but so does reality: bin Laden and his fanatics are by and large invisible across the Arab Spring, his zealotry rejected by thousands of Muslim insurgents.
My persistent focus is describing explicit mindsets, the determinant of what a leader says and does, and how he spends billions of dollars and expends thousands of lives. What struck me like a club is how much of Obama's defense of empire echoed the hated, criminal, mentally-challenged W. To wit:
So [bin Laden's] demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens.
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.