The images of people celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden bothered me. I am aware of no evidence that bin Laden was not a bad guy. He seems to have willingly participated in multiple terror attacks and shown no remorse or willingness to negotiate. The world is probably a better place without him. Still, several people died in Operation Geronimo.

There is a primal exultation in emerging victorious from combat and one can not criticize the combatants for it. Nor can one criticize those who have been injured by or lost loved ones to the attacks for which he was responsible. I would expect a certain amount of relief and a feeling of vindication, that justice was finally served. But I suspect that the people shown celebrating fall into neither of those categories.

The fang and claw nature of life leads to zero-sum conflicts. In order for me to eat, plants and animals must die. Yet I would be very concerned about someone who enjoyed and celebrated those deaths. Those who assume the burden of taking life, whether in the slaughterhouse or in the battlefield, do what they believe needs to be done. That people only indirectly involved would celebrate the loss of life, no matter how justified, strikes me as shamefully barbaric.

The details of the operation show that, despite promises to the contrary, nothing has changed in government. The Obama administration authorized a military operation that violated the sovereignty of another nation, a behavior for which it heavily criticized the Bush administration. To my knowledge, bin Laden had only been indicted, not convicted, by U.S. and international courts. (So much for strengthening diplomacy and international cooperation.) That the government continues to take unilateral, military action gives me substantial pause.


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