Our President told us to examine our heads. I examined mine.
Anyone who questions whether the US should have killed Osama bin Laden needs to have their head examined, President Barack Obama has said.
( from the link above)
"As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn't lose sleep over was the possibility of taking Bin Laden out," Obama said.
( from the link above)
That's what our President said. His position is clear: US(!) killed a man. Get over it. He does not lose the sleep over this. Examine your head if you doubt the decision.
I am trying to examine my head. So far I had no reason to complain about the level of reasoning my head demonstrated but if the President says so.. I am trying. The best way to examine your head is to put yourself into the man's shoes. Here you are, a Commander-in-Chief and there's a sworn enemy of your country, seemingly accessible. You can order to take him out and it will be done. It will bring a closure to a lot of issues. It will be a huge political gain. You also will be able to monitor the killing on TV, so that there will be no doubt at all. All the people around you tell you that it is a good chance. The gun is loaded and ready; just pull the trigger, Mr. President. What would I have done? What would any of us had done? Can any of us honestly answer that he/she would have done something different? Such questions were always asked of those who judge after the fact and they seem the killer questions because they are Markovian. They presume that nothing was before that, that this particular event is independent from the past, that there are no connections, that it is only here and now. That assumption is truly wrong in politics where everything is connected and interconnected and where power is not only a manifestation of strength but also of wisdom. Now we see the light in the end of the tunnel; was it a wise decision or not? It depends on the criteria of wisdom in the head of the President or in the head of whoever presumes to be in his shoes. My head that is. So, in my head I am put in front of the dilemma of taking a human life. I can do that. Maybe even more than one life. Obviously, my first question would be if I could avoid that by taking a person into custody. All things considered, I am not a unilateral decider to kill and we have courts for that. If the sworn enemy is vulnerable so much that there is a chance to execute him ( not even by a sniper fire but by a shot to the head), can we take him alive? That would be even better politically, right? So many people are accused of collaborating with him, so many questions could be answered, so many issues resolved. Now they forever will remain unsolved. The operation information revealed to all the world that Navy Seals met no resistance whatsoever; why wasn't he taken alive? Where is wisdom here? And why doesn't our President explain to us whether that option was considered and under what conditions?
Now, there is another question too. Obviously, our President knew in advance that there were other people in the house. Did he order to kill them too? Did he order to kill the 19years' -old boy? See, that's an issue with those licenses to kill- you must be either very specific or very broad. Say, why not use a taser? They work wonders. Or why not hit a boy on the head, knock him down. That surely could be done if the President had adamantly stated in his order that only one person should be targeted for killing and that only if he resists. How was an order stated? Can we see a written text? If our President like a medieval king watched the execution of his enemy on the TV together with his staff it is only prudent for the public to see the text of that fateful order. That's what my head would ask first. I would like to follow the decision process step-by --step. I would like to see the wisdom, not vengeance or political posturing. In fact that's where I question the wisdom of our Chief Executive. Some people might say I don't know everything. But I am in his shoes, right? Tell me, I am ready to listen.
Mr. President, so far I had examined my head and saw nothing wrong with it except for an unfortunate decision to vote for you in Y2008. Not that I had much of a choice. I saw all that in you; you were a capable and ambitious man with a very diverse background, a real American, with a touch of high intelligence but also with one unfortunate feature- you did not seem to be a very educated man and your premises sounded rather shallow whether in your books or in your speeches. Still, you seemed much better than the alternatives although I had some suspicion even then. You were too eager to please.
You did not seem comfortable acting under the malicious scrutiny. Examine your head, Mr. President; maybe that's the real issue?
Mr. President, you will lose your sleep about the decision you have made. You already had confessed about it because if not, you would not have said the opposite. Yes, you will. You ordered a killing. Not the US (What an arrogance, really. To disseminate his personal responsibility over the whole population of the country- that is worthy of Louis the XIVth with his "I am the state'), neither that Navy Seal- you. You did it and that will haunt you at night. It would be wise to acknowledge that. Lincoln did. He took the responsibility for the war and expressed remorse together with perseverance. But when told that the dead would have voted for him, he replied (and here is Honest Abe in all his glory), " No, they would have voted against." Mr. President why didn't you express at least a human remorse about the death as it was? Whom did you want to please this time? I saw your face when you watched that TV and you certainly did not seem happy at all ( BTW, why did you have to watch it? Who told you to? Who told you to drag other people with you? What was a political pressure that even Hillary was to be there and after that she had to explain herself for a truly human gesture?) Mr. President, why did you humiliate yourself?
I can understand when a person in power exercises a controversial or even immoral decision. There are numerous examples. But it is for the first time as far as I know the person in power wants to play it both ways- he wants to take a responsibility and also avoid it by disseminating and playing down. The true leader does what he has to do or what he thinks he has to do but he does not command the rejoice and he is not afraid to say that the deed was dirty. It was dirty, Mr. President; you did a dirty job. Maybe for those who told you or for those whom you wanted to please or for those whom you don't like but have to follow, but you did a dirty job and you should acknowledge that; many rulers did the same thing in the past. They all lost their sleep, sorry, even the worst ones we know about. Your lack of education backfired, Mr. President. It continues to backfire again and again. What will be the consequences of that morbid rejoice we witnessed? You said you did it for us. We shall see.
I would like to speculate also about another aspect. History does not like the witnesses of the dirty deeds. Mr. President, you might face a perspective of becoming a politically inconvenient person. Those masters of yours, those whom you have been so eager to please, they know the drill. They know that after the time passes and the dust settles you will be remembered as the one who "did not lose the sleep about it.' That will be quoted, remembered, used by those other powerful people who deal with them. You may become a political liability in their eyes. No matter where you go and what you do from now on the shadow of those killed will follow you whether you want it or not. Of course, there were many like that before you, as I have mentioned, but you were the first one who openly gloated about it in a democratic environment. I question your wisdom, Mr. President and your political practices. I guess in the discussions you held the political advantages for you were one of the strongest arguments for the action. I would argue that it was a wrong perception. The horror from an open execution is not a driver anymore- it is a spiritual brake. Many people will think about it again and again, examine their heads, so to speak, and that uneasiness will not play in your favor at all. The execution of the Duke of Engyienne haunted Napoleon I up to his last years in exile and Napoleon was not a person who would avoid responsibility. But it was a blunder, a real blunder and he thought about it again and again.. Maybe you should think about it, Mr. President if you had not thought yet of drones you have sent and wars you have escalated. Maybe it is the time for some soul-searching. I know, Harry Truman sanctioned the nuclear bombardment and that decision is still being debated here. But 66 years had passed and if we still rejoice the way we do now, won't it tell you that there's something fundamentally wrong with our perceptions? Tell you what; maybe you will not lose your sleep about it. But I certainly had lost it after I read your interview because you broke my heart. Not for the first time, I must admit.
Mr. President in your book "The Audacity of Hope' you claimed to love this country. I daresay I love it too. It is a tough statement because there is no such thing as an unconditional love. But I love it and that love tells me to be careful in judgments, to check my perceptions again and again, to examine my head before telling others to do the same, to cut the slack and let it go sometimes. It also tells me that the only way to exhibit this love is to believe in myself and make my opinion heard or that may be too late. This country stands like a rock on the people's opinions -- E Pluribus Unum. So I examined my head and my message is this: it wasn't worth it to do what you did. It wasn't wise. You please, think about it.
The writer is 57 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.